Monday 5 February 2018

We Have Dramaturgy: Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir @ Formation

Formation Festival

Formation is a new festival showcasing the talents of the Annexe Repertory Theatre company in four new shows: Chapel Street, Those Worrisome Sleeps, We Got Now and White Rabbit Red Rabbit.

They will also be Joined by Some Kind of Theatre and RFT with their most recent shows The Grandmothers Grimm and Vichy Goings-On along with a special one off performances from Tandem Writers Collective, Loud Poets and The Performadores.

Annexe Repertory Theatre (A.R.T.) are the product of Black Dingo's new youth theatre initiative in the Annexe Arts Hub on Merchant Street. The company have received workshops with directors Tyler Mortimer, Sofia Nakou and Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir plus founder David McFarlane this autumn and winter, before being split into four smaller companies to work on their respective performances at the Assembly Roxy 3-8th of February.

We Got Now
by the company

We Got Now is a new devised work made by the company. Five remarkable individuals take stock of where they are now. The past has not been easy, but they can either let it define them or they can embrace who it's made them. Beyond stigma, beyond shame, beyond self. Full of humour, poetry and raw truth, We Got Now invites you to embrace this moment in time.

This is the show's world premiere.

February 4th, 5th and 6th

Tickets £10/£8 concessions

Directed by Kolbrún Björt Sigfúsdóttir

Edie Goodwin
Georgia Knox
Heather Milne
Johanna Stewart
Sarah Schlesinger

What was the inspiration for this performance?

When deciding we wanted to do a festival of new work to showcase the Annexe Repertory Theatre company myself, founder David McFarlane, directors Tyler Mortimer and Sofia Nakou met up to discuss a theme. We wanted the work to have a red thread running through it. We all wanted to make work that was tackling the now in some way and that represented the reality we find ourselves in in 2018. 

So the theme we chose was We Here Now and all the work we chose to make as part of the festival fits into that, Chapel Street and Those Worrisome Sleeps are pieces of new writing that are in strong dialogue with modern living, White Rabbit Red Rabbit happens in a now that feels more present than in most performances and We Got Now is an exploration of the self in a space and time.

Our initial questions was who were the 'we' in the devising group? This lead us down a path of defining a 'self' based on experiences, hopes and habits. 'Here' was more obvious and less important, apart from in the fact that the audience will encounter these stories together with us in a specific time and place, and we remain aware of that throughout. The 'now', on top of being the time spent with the audience, needed the contrast of what came before and what might come after to be defined.

So I brought in Kate Tempest's Hold Your Own as a means to start a devising journey. To me it is an extraordinary piece of work on shaping a self, discovering aspects of yourself and coming to terms with who you are as a young individual. From there the group started really diving into the material their collective past and present experiences brought up. And so the initial theme inspired initial material that inspired the texts that inspired the devised work you will see at the festival.

How do you feel your work fits within the remit of the Formation Festival?

This show fits in really well with the other work as it was made alongside a lot of it. It isn't traditionally scripted, unlike all the other work at the festival, which makes it unique in this line up, but thematically, as I've said, it links right in. There's a lot of new writing on by local writers that bring their unique voices to the table, we are bringing our voices too but We Got Now is not a 'play' – it's a show and the movement is as much part of the 'text' as the rest. The cast are creators and no one else could perform this but them, so in that sense it stands apart.

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

I think performance has a unique position in discussing the things we are discussing as we are tackling some very heavy hitting, verging on taboo, subjects in this show. These are five young performers bringing into light some serious issues in a way that is not easily done outside of performance. In a different setting it would need to be discussed differently and that would take the agency away from them. It would make their stories a part of a narrative they might not want to associate with.

But theatre is their form. Their medium. And so they chose how to tell these stories and what to leave out, what to say and how to say it. There is space for fragmented voice delivering a universal experience on stage. There is space for incredible candour and the wonderfully silly to step side by side on stage. I can't think of a platform that would allow these particular stories to be told with the amount of raw poetry this show offers that wasn't performance.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I became interested at the age of 14/15. I joined a youth theatre in my school and suddenly I had friends. I had a creative output and I really enjoyed being part of the group. But I didn't like acting and for the longest time I stayed away from theatre because I thought that was the only route to making it, by being an actor, playing parts. When I discovered a theatre makers' course at the Academy of the Arts in Reykjavik that focused on creation rather than interpretation I was hooked.

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

Yes, the method to making this show is very much based on work I've been exposed to by companies like Forced Entertainment, Gob Squad, She She Pop, Hotel Pro Forma and Frantic Assembly. The art of devising is something these companies have perfected and I draw a lot of inspiration from them. I also used Viewpoints as a starting point for this work. But each devising process is different and each group that devises brings their own methods.

This one was about fifty fifty physical and scripted, but a lot of the scripted work we made in the creative stage we then cut, reshaped or mixed in with other text in the 'putting the show together stage'. So firstly we just made a lot of material in response to prompts (textual, idealogical, abstract), then we gathered all of that material and chose what bits we liked. Then we re-staged that material all over again, devising new scenes from them. And that's the show.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This being a new company there's no 'usual' yet, which is very exciting. We all have made shows 'like this' but we've all also never made a show exactly like this because we've not worked together before.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope they are moved, either to laughter or to tears. Maybe both. It's a frank piece about what it means to be alive despite whatever challenges that state poses and I think it's an examination of how we come to terms with who we are and learn to live. 

It sounds soppy but no one gives out a guide book on how to survive being alive. They teach you maths and geography but very little about what can happen to a person and how to deal with our demons. When you've gone to the edge of things, be it health or loss or identity, you have a different perspective. It's unique and it's also very relatable to. It's a show about being a person. So I hope people relate!

Kolbrun Bjort Sigfusdottir, director of We Got Now by Annexe Repertory Theatre (A.R.T)

Assembly Roxy 4th, 5th and 6th of February at 7.30

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