Tuesday, 16 January 2018

In the Dramaturgy's Name: Gunshow @ Manipulate


In the Devil’s Name in development with Puppet Animation Scotland's Testroom 2017/2018

Gunshow is delighted to announce that our new production in development In Devil's Name has been selected for Puppet Animation Scotland's Testroom. 

Puppet Animation Scotland, supported by the National Theatre of Scotland, created Testroom in 2016 as a creative development opportunity for Scottish-based artists.

​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. For more information on the programme and the artists involved click here.

​We will experiment with initial creative ideas about a highly interesting 17th century Scottish historical figure, Isobel Gowdie, a young housewife from Aldearn in Narinshire who is remembered not just for being tried as a witch, but for her detailed confession.

What makes her trial in 1662 so interesting, apart for the detail, is that it was taken without the use of torture. Was this confession a result of psychosis or was it all really in the Devil’s name? 


What was the inspiration for this performance?

Growing up in the Highlands the story of Isobel is relatively well known, however it is rarely adapted in the arts (excluding McMillian’s Symphony; ‘The Confessions of Isobel Gowdie’).

What really set her story apart from any other witch trial in history was the detailed confession, which was supposedly freely given and without torture. However this is impossible to assume or prove. 

It was this astounding confession and the confidence it was told in that really inspired me. Everything in the confessions was aimed, I believe, to shock, annoy, and offend the religious male patriarchy accusing her. 

She knew that once branded as a witch it would be impossible for an innocent verdict, at least she could enjoy a little revenge before facing her own demise. For her, hell, very much, hath no fury.

She antagonised her accusers to such a gloriously boiling limit; she proudly admits to not only making a pact with the devil himself but making love to him in the graveyard of the church. Her bravery (or madness) in the face of an unrighteous, religious male patriarchy is the main inspiration for the work.




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

Isobel Gowdie claims to have flown through the air on a corn stalk, transformed into an animal, feasted in the fairy hills, performed magic in the company of fairy monarchs and made love with the Devil.

This combination of characters and mythical
creatures lends itself naturally to the use of puppetry. There is an unlimited amount of potential with puppet sizes, materials and puppet architecture. Furthermore, by singling out the main character as a non puppet make her seem unusual and subhuman, amplifying the point of the trial.

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

Of course. As we ebb ever further from reality and into virtual. Live performance can remind us of who we are, what we are and how we relate to each other as human beings.No matter if we enjoy a production or loathe it, we will always have something to say on a live performance, there will always be a discussion.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I am probably a bit of a cliche as I have always wanted to make shows. My earliest memory into the industry was seeing shows with my dad at Edinburgh Festival back in the early 1990s, we would save up and see as many as possible in a week. We camped in a van in the Zoo carpark as we would rather spend money on shows! Since then I never wanted to work in any other industry.

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

Strangely it was the soundtrack that came first. The succulent, raspy tones of the musician Patti Plinko lent itself perfectly, in my opinion, to the production. From there we worked on the script and the main puppet. With being a participant in Testroom we met with the other Restroom participants and mentor Gavin Glover roughly every second week to share ideas and give feedback.

Does the show fit with your usual productions? 

Gunshow Prides itself on creating original productions. Each show is completely different. Our first production was about modern day mummification, the second was about game-keepering and now witches. 



What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope they will relate to the character. That they put themselves in her shoes and think about what they would have done. Hopefully from there have a great discussion in the bar after!


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