Tuesday 23 January 2018

Dramaturgy in a Clinch: Clara Bloomfield @ Manipulate 2018

CLINCH/Clara Bloomfield
Sarah, a fifteen year old girl, lives with her grandfather in a touch ex-mining town in Fife. She suffers with bad anxiety. Joining the local boxing club is an act that is laced with significant challenges and tensions for them both.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Collision creates performance for young adult audiences. Through our work we aim to encourage a greater dialogue surrounding what it is to be a young adult in todays society.

Anxiety amongst young adults is at a record high due to pressures from the pace of life, expectation, education, work, body image and social media to name but a few. 

Clinch’ was a seed of an idea that was in reaction to this and coupled with my own personal interest in the role sport, particularly boxing, plays in small communities and villages. I serendipitously met with a young female boxer who shared her relationship with the sport and the lack of equal opportunities and at times how she felt she was a joke. I knew this was a subject area that would be relevant to so many people.

How do you feel your work fits within the remit of the manipulate festival?

Collision was selected as one of four companies for Testroom, a creative development opportunity for Scottish-based artists. Puppet Animation Scotland, supported by the National Theatre of Scotland based in Rockvilla, Glasgow, and facilitated by leading puppeteer Gavin Glover, Testroom offers artists of any discipline the opportunity to explore initial creative ideas which aim to place, at their heart, elements of live puppet or object manipulation.  ‘Clinch’ is a result of this development opportunity.

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

I would argue it still is.  Theatre should be a place for social
commentary, a space to explore another’s views on the world, that can be in agreement or opposing to your own.  A space that can be immediate and responsive in it’s discussion of current world events.  That said, is theatre achieving this? Is theatre a space that is accessible to the wider public…I don’t think so…this is an area that needs to be addressed.

How did you become interested in making performance?

From a young age I had the great fortune of working with strong inspiring female directors and performance makers; Annie Wood (a former Artistic Director Polka Theatre) and Nancy Reilly (The Wooster Group)who set me on a path to create experiences that blurred the line between life and art, reality and fiction. Environments where people could confidently explore their position in the world and reflect it back through performance.

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

There are three main components to our scratch performance of ‘Clinch’; storytelling, puppetry and sound.  Each element is integral in the development and advancement of our ‘story’. 
Each element had to feel like it was part of the same world, sharing a similar tone and intention.  With each of these three aspects being so interconnected, if changes to one occurred, the same refocus had to apply to the others to ensure a consistent flow and aesthetic.

This at points was time consuming when revisiting music timings, script rewrites, edits and re-rehearsals but as the director this results in a satisfying culmination of artistic processes, producing an accomplished collaborative presentation.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
In one sense no. Testroom provided Collision a development opportunity to experiment with puppetry in 'Clinch’ which is a new mode of performance for us.  

In this context as a writer / director the platform provided me the space to interrogate my approach to storytelling and to explore my relationship with text and visual performance.

In the other sense yes – as a company Collision is interested in creating sociopolitical performance surrounding what it is to be a young adult in todays society.  We feel ‘Clinch’ contributes to this broader discussion through a topical subject matter.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

The seeds of what we hope to develop into a full production.  We hope to gain feedback from the audience that can support the next stage in our development progress.  From this short sharing we hope for the audience to feel a connection with Sarah and want them  to champion her to overcome the challenges she is battling. 

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