Wednesday, 17 January 2018

Dramaturgy in a Nutshell: Ragnarok @ manipulate 2018

Tortoise in a Nutshell/Scotland
The world is breaking. Years of frozen winters and endless nights have been followed by raging fires and infernal wars. Small huddles of humanity live in fear of the next attach from the skies. This is the Ragnarök. A glimpse of a new piece in development by multi-award winning company, Tortoise in a Nutshell.

What was the inspiration for this performance?  

The piece draws heavily on the Ragnarok. This is part of Norse mythology and describes the end of times. It features huge battles between gods and giants, ferocious wolves and serpents  big enough to cover the entire world.  

What we became interested in, though was how this might relate to humans on the ground.What would it be like to be living as the world is ending. When you feel so helpless against these huge scale events. 

Do you have any ability to choose your path and make a change or are events so big that your fate is inevitable?

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

Our work is visually led and we focus heavily on creating an atmosphere, a feeling of a world first before entering into the psychology of a story. We draw upon archetypes which hopefully allows the audience to fill in story blanks and project their own emotions onto the stage. 

I think, this is what Manipulate is all about. Work that ignite imaginations before language. 

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

I think so. It asks people to watch closely, to listen hard for a concentrated period of time and collectively come together and feel empathy. Place yourself in someone else's shoes.  The best performance is not a didactic argument, it reaches somewhere deeper and more emotional. It is important to be reminded of this. 

Also the world itself is hugely performative, we arguably perform gender, perform social class, perform roles expected of us from our family, our work place, the society we find ourselves in. Now with social media, we have a whole new place to perform. 

The stage is one of the few places though where we publicly acknowledge this performance and is therefore very honest. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

 As a company we all had different routes in but essentially through either youth theatre or classes in school. We all became inspired when we were young and ended up studying theatre at university. This is where we realised we had similar tastes and desire to make visual work. It made sense for us to come together and make the company and produce work that we wanted to see on stage.  

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

This is the first time we are drawing so heavily on a known story so we are concisely unpicking it and trying to find what it means to us. Stripping it down to its building blocks, finding out why the myth resonates for us and then reconstructing it.  So for instance you wont hear the names of Odin or Thor but their presence is rooted into the show. 

The feeling of huge mythic forces out of balance and a world in chaos is our building blocks. 

From there on we experiment. We know we want to play with scale, seeing huge cataclysmic events and then focusing in on its affect at a personal level. So we are playing constantly with theatrically zooming in and out, changing scales of our playing space and the audience's focus. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

 Yes and no. It draws heavily upon techniques we have used in previous shows. So for instance we are working with the small scale puppetry and video work seen in Feral and the large scale style puppets we used a little in The Lost Things and Dundee Rep's The BFG.   But this show feels hugely ambitious as we are smashing all these forms together to see what gels and what doesn't. 

You can definitely find threads of techniques and themes that run throughout our work. But we always want to experiment and ty something new so hopefully this will feel like a completely new approach to past subjects. 
Right now as we are making our work in progress, this show feels like we will be taking everything and turning it up to 11. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

An atmospheric shock to the system that leaves you wanting more. Or at least the feeling that the seeds are there for this to happen in the final show. 

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