Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Welcome My Dramaturgy: Phil Hardy on tour

Spotted Stripes, Truffle Pig and The Kitten Has Claws present: Welcome My Son by Phil Hardie 

Welcome My Son is a unique interpretation of Frankenstein; as told through the monsters' eyes. The piece explores themes of isolation, loneliness, conformity and prejudice, themes that are just as culturally and politically relevant as they were 200 years ago. 

Seamlessly melding the disciplines of Chinese Pole and Physical Theatre with storytelling in this exciting rendition of the classic story, Phil explores the Mary Shelley Classic in a new an exciting way, adding tangible depth and contemporary relevance to the Monster's situation and abandonment by his father. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I wanted to create a full length solo show specifically for theatre which would utilise my experience and skills as a circus performer as a fundamental tool for forming the character and narrative. I wanted to demonstrate that the physical technique of performing circus acrobatics can effectively create these things. 

I also wanted to present circus in a different light than the comic/family friendly/cabaret space that it so often occupies. Frankenstein seemed a brilliant story to present in a solo format and of course deals with the darker side of the human condition it therefore became a perfect choice of story to tell.   

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

The arts have an ability to inspire emotional responses towards subject matter that debate and discussion often fall short of. Performance in particular brings the audience very close to the reality of a given circumstance and the emotions that accompany it as it is acted out for them in their own physical space. 

So YES I believe it is a brilliant platform for the presentation of ideas which hopefully inspires public discussion. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I began making my own performances while studying sculpture and as an exploration of performance as another form of expression. At the same time I was offered the opportunity to perform with a small professional circus troupe.

Over the years I've been slowly pulling the 2 forms of performance together to this point where I hope I'm creating a true piece of performance art.  

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

With this show the importance of the circus technique actually forming character and narrative was core to my process. I began with character studies of Frankenstein and his creature which were purely physical pieces both on the apparatus and the floor in order to understand how each moved and held themselves. 

I would then choreograph a piece which formed part of the narrative and place that characters' own physicality to that sequence. In terms of the story I never wanted to or tried to tell the story either in its entirety or as a literal translation of the text. I wanted to focus on the issue of neglect present in the text and how it destroys both parties in the relationship. How in the absence of love a human will turn to hate perhaps as the only possible alternative but also how our apparent obsession to master control over the natural world can lead to our own isolation and ultimately our demise.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is the first full length piece I have made for theatre presentation so the entire process is new. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

The honest truth is that I have set out to make my audience uncomfortable. Frankenstein is the archetypal horror story and to do it any sort of justice I hope that my performance inspires a little terror/dread and some of the emotional turmoil and isolation felt by both the protagonists.    

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

The physical work was the starting point for the
entire design of the show. I hope that my performance brings the characters and their situation to life. 

I then engaged composer Stuart MacPherson to create a sound design that helps to create an uncomfortable atmosphere and does not allow the audience to relax. Kate Bonney's lighting design supports some of the technical elements of the show and the story telling wonderfully and literally made some of the ideas I had in my head possible. 

Lastly Al Seed and Malcolm Rogan both provided enormous creative input and support in bringing the vision in my head onto the stage and into being. I feel blessed to have had the chance to work with such a talented and professional team. 

“Extraordinarily moving and intensely skilled" A multi-disciplined performer, skilled in tight wire, unicycle, acrobatics and Chinese Pole, Phil Hardie has over 16 years experience in performance including at such prestigious events as The Queen's Opening Ceremony of Parliament in Edinburgh, Princess Anne’s Opening Ceremony, An Cridhe on the Isle of Coll and The Grand Opening of BBC TV Scotland in Glasgow. “Great music and creation of mood” 

Working in collaboration with the hugely talented lighting designer Kate Bonney, sound designer Stuart MacPherson, costume designer Jesse Brettle and Ben Harrison (Grid Iron) and with creative consultation by the reknowned Al Seed (Conflux), Welcome My Son has been fully-funded for a Scottish tour by Creative Scotland with support from Assembly Roxy and is an exciting and artistically ambitious piece to emerge from the Scottish Circus and Physical Theatre performance Scene. 

"Totally compelling from start to finish" Welcome My Son is touring across Scotland in October 2017 at the following: 

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