Saturday, 21 July 2018

Revenants Dramaturgy: Nichola McAuliffe @ Edfringe 2018


Pleasance Dome (King Dome), Potterow, Edinburgh, EH8 9AL
Wednesday 1st – Monday 27th August 2018 (not 8th and 15th), 17:00

What was the inspiration for this performance?
The play was inspired originally by my fascination with the lack of information about King George V and Queen Mary's feelings about the murders of the Romanovs for which they had been in part responsible.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Live interaction in the theatre - a coverall word for a performance space - is, for me, vital to a healthy society. The rigour of the electrical circuit formed by actors and audience in the space (the Crucible of creativity director Annie Castledine called it) can't be bettered as a launching pad for discussion, debate and further thought. The actor should be as stimulated by the audience and vice versa. Unless it's musical theatre, in which case servicing the audience is the job.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I don't understand the term 'making performance'. There is a world of difference in performing and acting. Between doing and being. I am really only interested in acting as a way of examining the truth. The performer wants the audience to look at them, the actor wants the audience to look at the character. Performance requires admiration, nothing wrong with that. Acting allows the observer to walk a mile in another person's shoes. You may not, as an audience member, like the character but hopefully at the end of the play you will understand them.

Is there any particular approach to the making
of the show?
This play has been rehearsed in the time-honoured manner: learn the lines and don't trip over the furniture.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
In that it is a play with a small cast who are required to turn comedy and tragedy on a sixpence - yes. I tend to write for older casts with one or two younger characters as the counterpoint of age and experience interests me more than generational ghettos.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
I hope they'll laugh a great deal while perhaps finding themselves walking 90 minutes in the shoes of four very disparate characters:  An actor who was openly Gay during World War One and who wrote the definitive book on embroidery, Queen Mary, widow of George V and grandmother of the present Queen, who was party to the abandonment of the Romanovs, her proudly British Jamaican chauffeur, Walcott, and a brutalised young black G.I Waverley Monk who is contemplating mass murder.

They'll also experience the diverse brilliance of actor Kevin Moore, legend Peter Straker, RADA graduate Tok Stephen and multi award winner me - the Pointless Celebrity winner's perspex block taking pride of place on the piano.


Pleasance Dome (King Dome), Potterow, Edinburgh, EH8 9AL
Wednesday 1st – Monday 27th August 2018 (not 8th and 15th), 17:00

Wired Dramaturgy: Lesley Wilson @ Edfringe 2018

WIRED is a story about the individuals behind the uniform. Told through the lives of three woman, WIRED is the story of a young soldier’s journey through post-traumatic stress; Joanna, the young soldier, her mother and an older soldier who represents the many voices of the military as experienced by the young Joanna.

Following training, Joanna is deployed to Afghanistan and believes that she is prepared for what lies ahead. What she is not prepared for is a visit from her past. As the realities of war close in around her, Joanna struggles to make sense of the voices, memories and flashbacks that wage war inside her head.

How do I define mental health?
My background prior to writing was in Social Work and Counselling, that along with personal experience strongly influenced my understanding of mental health. I see mental health as a spectrum, ranging from mental well-being to mental ill health, and I believe that we can all travel back and forth on that spectrum during our lives. The definition and cause of diagnosed mental illness has long been debated, this is not my area of expertise. Scientific and medical developments continue to improve our understanding of the brain and its functions and supports understanding, research and treatment.
As human beings we experience emotions because of life, how we understand and express those emotions and experiences is what supports, helps or hinders our mental health. Life is challenging and navigating our way through it can take its toll on our bodies and our minds. With our physical health we are taught what to eat and drink and what exercise we should do to support good health, we are less familiar with what supports our mental health and well-being. Everyday things like relationships, family, school, work etc can impact on our mental health, traumatic events like death, loss, abuse, accidents, war etc can, for some people, have a profound effect on their mental health but like our physical health, everyone is unique and how we respond is unique. For some an event is so traumatic that the ability to function in the world becomes impossible, for others it is simply something to be navigated and worked through.
How we are supported in our mental well health and how we self-support is, I believe, the crucial issue. Stigma around physical ill health is rare, we talk about health all the time, we share stories about being in hospital, going to the doctor, what remedies we are using, what the latest healthy eating fad is, but mental ill health is still a dirty secret, hidden from view and often experienced in silence.  

What areas of mental health are you looking at in the performance?
WIRED is the story of a young woman soldier’s journey through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. Although this is a story about the impact of war on the young soldier, it is also a story about a family, loss, silence and secrets. During deployment to Afghanistan, Joanna, witnesses a traumatic incident and struggles to deal with the memories, flashbacks and voices that wage war inside her head. As with many people who experience trauma, this incident triggers an earlier unresolved and forgotten trauma and Joanna begins to re live both events, struggling at times to know the difference between past and present.

Suicide is also explored in this play as an unspoken issue, but it plays a crucial role in the story on many levels; during war, because of war, as an act of war, deliberate, accidental and as a result of mental illness. It is something that affects characters both present on stage and in the background. (I don’t want to give too much away at this stage!)

In what ways do you hope that your play can help the audience to move forward in their understanding and actions towards a greater sense of mental good health?

WIRED is described as a ‘journey through’ Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. In the play Joanna tries to continue to work by ‘pushing it down’, when she returns home she does the same by using drink and drugs to suppress her thoughts and feelings. When things reach a critical point, she is introduced to a service that supports her to explore her story and unravel the complexities of the multiple traumas experienced. 

The issues raised in WIRED affect everyone. Although it is a story about a young woman soldier’s journey through Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, it is also a story about love, loss and relationships which impact on everyone’s mental health in both positive and negative ways.
Throughout the play Joanna mirrors a view that that is often held. ‘Push it down’ is a phrase that I picked up from interviews with soldiers, but it is a well-rehearsed way of being across society, ‘push it down’, ‘keep it to yourself’, ‘pull yourself together’, ‘cheer up’ are all phrases used with the best intentions but with the worst consequences. As can be seen in the play, when Joanna tries to push it down she becomes more and more unwell.

The structure of WIRED is deliberately developed to show the young woman telling her story. Being seen, heard and understood in the world that we live in is how we experience being valued, and supports our mental health. In the play the young woman gets the chance to tell her story and has the opportunity not only to be seen, heard and understood but also to change the way that she understands it and herself.

And given the high-pressure nature of the Fringe, do you have any ideas about positive self-care during August in Edinburgh.

Last year was my first Fringe and despite my well-rehearsed self-care package in place I still got to the end of August exhausted both physically and emotionally, vowing never again! I often hear experienced Fringe people saying, ‘It’s a marathon not a sprint’, which I think is good advice. The amount of work it takes to get a show to the Fringe is grossly under estimated and under-valued and most people work long hours for no pay. I’ve learned that it is important to make sure that you have a good team around you who are not only pulling their weight but supporting each other. 

The Fringe is a hotbed of expectation and disappointment, where emotions run high and low and best friends can become sworn enemies overnight when reviews come in. I think what I learned last year and am holding close to my heart this year is to keep my feet on the ground and remember that the Fringe comes and goes but life, love and relationships go on beyond August. This year I intend to keep my expectations at a reasonable level, pace myself and above all enjoy being part of the greatest festival in the world.

Award-winning Playwright, Lesley Wilson, undertook extensive research with serving, reservist and veteran soldiers and spent time with both military and civilian mental health professionals whilst writing WIRED. 

WIRED was originally developed with support from Playwrights’ Studio Scotland and Tron Theatre Creative.

10-25 August 2018 (except 13/20 August), 2.30pm Army @The Fringe, Hepburn House, East Claremont Street.

Following its Fringe run WIRED will be touring Arts venues and Army Barracks across Scotland. 


WIRED is being developed for the Fringe 2018 by Director Stasi Schaeffer. BAFTA nominated actor Jasmine Main will be returning to play the role of Joanna, Una McDade who appeared in Outlander and In Plain Sight will return to play the Voice and Caroline Lewis will play Joanna’s Mother. 

Friday, 20 July 2018

Henry's Dramaturgy: Mark Down @ Edfrige 2018

Award winning Blind Summit return to Edinburgh with Extreme Puppetry
Multi-award winning puppetry innovators Blind Summit present the UK premiere of their brand new show HENRY, a 3 person, 1 puppet theatrical memoire from beyond the grave, at the 2018 Edinburgh Festival FringeHenry will be staged at the Pleasance Dome (venue 23) from Saturday 11 to Sunday 26 August 2018; and follows the huge Edinburgh Fringe successes of Citizen Puppet (2015) and The Table (2011), both Scotsman Fringe First Award winners.
Henry is set within a puppetry Master Class on the subject of 'puppetry possession', hosted by master puppeteer Mark Down.  Mark brings to life a puppet made of bin bags which begins to take on the character of his father, celebrated actor and old ham of the title, Henry Chessel.  
With the help of two slightly sinister, hooded puppeteers (Fiona Clift and Tom Espiner) masquerading as students, Mark tells the story of Henry's rise to fame, fall from grace and the last week of his father's life.  Haunted by his father's recent death and a neglected childhood Mark explores the relationships between father and son, acting and puppetry, form and function, life and death.

Mark Down, Blind Summit’s Artistic Director and Master Puppeteer, who performs in and directs their new production Henry answers the Dramaturgy questions.

Blind Summit will present the UK premiere of their brand new show HENRY at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2018. It follows the huge Edinburgh Fringe successes of Citizen Puppet (2015) and The Table (2011), both Scotsman Fringe First Award winners, amongst many other awards when touring internationally.

Set within a Master Class on 'puppetry possession' Henry is a one man, three-man show with puppetry. It’s narrated by puppeteer, director and “control freak” Mark Down who explores the mystical power of puppetry, assisted by two, slightly sinister, masked puppeteers. Things get out of control when the spirit of “Henry” enters the puppet. Who is “Henry”? What does he want? And is he dangerous?

What was the inspiration for this performance?

We usually begin with a puppet and in this case with an old puppet that I wanted to revisit called “the tramp". He was made as a tramp character out of bin bags and sitting on a shopping trolley. I took him apart and started to remake him, and slowly he morphed into an "old hammy actor" and then "my late father”, and became someone called “Henry”.  It a tortuous and sometimes torturous process. The show develops from finding a way to use him on stage. 

Where The Table was about being a puppet, Henry is about being a puppeteer. Specifically a furious, fifty year old puppeteer.

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

That’s such a difficult question. I want to say it is, and I want it to be. The mixture of intellectual argument and empathic engagement is potentially very powerful and should be, in theory, the perfect way to debate. But on the other hand Trump is a great performer, and indeed all the so called “populist" politicians, so I think we should be very wary of performance per se.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I went to see Romeo and Juliet at the RSC in 1986 and I understood the play in a way that I really didn’t when I read it. That was revelatory for me. I wanted to do that for other people.

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

I "follow the puppet". And I get lots of help. Everyone involved is invited to share their opinions. Honesty is encouraged and has to be accepted in return. I work with some performers I’ve known a long time and like and trust. We have a shared ambition for puppetry. And we try it out on audiences before we are ready and get them to tell us what they think too. And we keep asking the question - why do we need a puppet to do this? What does a puppet bring to the story?

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

It is experimental. It’s for grown ups. I don’t know if it’s any good. I like it. I hope it is funny and will move people. I hope it will make people think. And I hope it will fill people with wonder. And I will only know when we show it to audiences. So in those senses, yes.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

See above! I hope they will come with open minds and tell us what it is. The Table became The Table in front of Edinburgh audiences. I hope they will help us bring Henry to life...

In an absurd twist all is not as it seems. As Henry tells his actor’s tales, Mark reveals that he never actually knew his father and the entire basis of the relationship between father and son, actor and puppeteer, puppeteer and puppet, narrative and truth are drawn into question.  Is Mark making it all up? Is his father? Does it matter?
Henry is an entertaining but thought provoking show that ultimately acknowledges that everything is invention and the greatest truth is found in the biggest lie.
With their brand new show Blind Summit tear up the puppetry rule book again, employing their own unique performance style - 'Extreme Puppetry' - a character led, improvisational reinvention of traditional Japanese Bunraku puppetry - together with their trademark irreverent humour. 
Blind Summit Artistic Director and Master Puppeteer, Mark Down, performs in and directs Henry.  The incredibly accomplished puppeteers Fiona Clift (The Table, Citizen Puppet) and Tom Espiner (The Table, Madam Butterfly) play the hooded students.  Julian Spooner, Co-Artistic director of Rhum and Clay Theatre Company, and Freelance Theatre Director Alex Crampton are collaborators and assistant directors of Henry.  The production was devised by Blind Summit and written by Mark Down.
Blind Summit is a London based, internationally touring producer of puppet-based theatre under the artistic vision of Mark Down.  The company was founded by Mark in 1997 and is considered one of the world’s leading puppet theatre companies. 
Blind Summit are an Arts Council England NPO and Henry was made in association with Il Funaro, Pistoia. 
Henry Listings Information:
Venue: Pleasance King Dome, Pleasance Dome, 1 Bristo Square, EH8 9AL
EdFringe Venue Number: Venue 23
Dates: 11 - Sunday 26 August 2018 – No days off
Time: 15.30 - 16.30 / Running Time: 60 mins (no interval)
Ticket Prices: £9.00 - £12.00
Box Office:  0131 556 6550 
The Blind Summit Team for Henry:
Cast (alphabetical):                          Fiona Clift, Mark Down, Tom Espiner       
Writer & Director:                              Mark Down
Assistant Directors:                          Julian Spooner and Alex Crampton
Design:                                                                        Ruth Paton
Lighting:                                                    Hansjorg Schmidt
Technical Manger:                             Greg Cebula
General Manager/Producer:      Ellie Simpson
Devised by Blind Summit Theatre
Mark Down and Blind Summit Theatre
Blind Summit is a London based, internationally touring producer of puppet-based theatre under the vision of Artistic Director, Mark Down, one of the world's leading puppeteers.
It was founded in 1997 by Mark Down and is considered one of the world’s leading puppet theatre companies.  Since then Mark and the company have been pioneering their own style of “Extreme Puppetry", a character led, improvisational reinvention of traditional Japanese Bunraku puppetry, provocative, funny, political, outrageous, accessible theatre that pushes the boundaries of puppetry. 
Their shows such as Low Life (2005), 1984 (2009), and The Table (2011), have toured the world in theatre and puppet festivals.  Mark’s work as Director and Master Puppeteer has drawn plaudits in a series of landmark opera and theatre productions all over the world.  He has collaborated to create the breath-taking puppetry in large scale productions such as Anthony Minghella’s Madam Butterfly, for the English National Opera, and Danny Boyle’s Olympic Opening Ceremony. In 2014 Mark directed his first full scale puppet opera staging of Stravinsky’s Le Rossignol for the Bregenz Festival, since voted the Best Festival at the International Opera Awards 2014. 
Mark’s work as Director and Master Puppeteer has drawn plaudits in a series of landmark opera and theatre productions all over the world, including commissions for the Spoleto and Bregenz Festivals and, in Anthony Minghella’s production of Madame Butterfly, for the English National Opera and, currently, the Met Opera in New York.
Their shows are devised and directed by Mark Down in collaboration with a cohort of exceptional trained puppeteers, makers, designers and lighting designers, who have also contributed to the creation of some of the most extraordinary spectacles of recent years, including War Horse and Pinocchio at the Royal National Theatre, Boris & Sergey by Flabbergast Theatre and The Lorax at the Old Vic.
Past productions include: The Table (2011-present); Madam Butterfly (ENO, Met Opera, LNOBT, 2005-present); Citizen Puppet (2015); Le Rossignol (Bregenz Festival, 2014); The Magic Flute (Bregenz Festival, 2013-14); A Dog’s Heart (Complicite, ENO, DNO, La Scala, 2010-14); The Heads (2013); London 2012 Olympic Opening Ceremony (2012); 1984 (2009-10); The Call of the Wild (2010), Low Life (2005 – 2009), Kommilitonen! (Royal Academy of Music & Julliard, New York, 2011); Faeries (ROH2, 2008-10); El Gato Con Botas (Broadway: Gotham Chamber Opera, Tectonic Theatre Project, 2010-14); Shun-kin (Complicite, Setagaya Theatre Tokyo, Barbican, 2008-13); Angus, Thongs and Even More Snogging (West Yorkshire Playhouse, 2012); On Emotion (Soho Theatre, 2009); His Dark Materials (Birmingham Rep & West Yorkshire Playhouse, 2009); Pirate Puppetry, Martin’s Wedding, The Spaceman, Mr. China’s Son and Tramping the Boards.

Baby Dramaturgy: Katy Dye @ Edfringe 2018

The Vile Blog – Interview with Katy Dye

What was the inspiration for this performance?

There were a few different inspirations I had for making the piece. A couple of years ago, I read Blake Morrison's As If, which is a journalistic account of the James Bulger trial. In this book Morrison discusses the meaning of childhood innocence in our world today. I was thinking a lot about power dynamics and moral boundaries surrounding this area.

At the same time as this I reassessed how my body is viewed, and as I have childlike attributes to my body, I realised that I can often be infantilised without realising this is happening. I started to think about the implications of this on a bigger scale, what is it that attracts us to innocence/the infantile, and what does this mean in terms of our moral codes in society?  

I am also interested in the pop culture references that infantilisation brings up, and the commercialised and consumable version of infantilisation that most people might be familiar/which on a deeper level could easily be seen as paedophilia. I am interested in exploring where we draw the moral boundaries between these things being acceptable or being reprehensible. 

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

I think performance is a better place than ever before for the public discussion of ideas. In the age of social media, we are overloaded with thoughts and opinions on a daily basis, and instead of having discussions we more often regress to voicing a wall of opinions with little room for real debate.

What is refreshing about performance is that we are sharing a real space together, witnessing live action, and having the patience (mostly) to see it through to the end. Because someone is communicating to us live there is ripe opportunity for debate and discussion (with fellow audience members - or even just internally with ourselves) that goes a bit deeper than our media saturated age often allows.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I became interested in making performance
through visual art. I have always explored drawing, and the more I got involved with art and the physical sensation of making - I felt a need to take the making of art further towards the body itself, which led me to performance. 

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

I have performed this show a couple of times before, and each time it has been a different incarnation of the piece. On revisiting the show this time round, I realised that much of my life had changed from the original point of creating it, which called for a radical re-shift in the whole atmosphere of the performance.  Right now, I am exploring a more choreographic approach, with a real emphasis on the sound and music I use in the show.

I am also exploring the form and atmosphere of the piece being more abstract and taking the audience on a strange journey to explore infantilisation of women. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

I don't think I have a 'usual' style that I try to go for, and I like to approach each project a new. I have been involved in such a broad range of performances, from public processions to pub quiz events, to dance pieces in nightclubs - and the more and more I make, the less interested I am in creating work that feels similar to past things I have done - or follows a predictable pattern. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I want the audience to have a very physical experience. The sound and music in the piece (designed by Zac Scott) features both bubblegum pop and metal drone, and the physical movement in the piece is quite challenging for myself as a performer as it is fast and furious! I want the audience to feel entertained, whilst being taken on a journey to the morally reprehensible. 

Baby Face
Summerhall (Demonstration Room), Summerhall Place, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL
Wednesday 1st – Sunday 26th August 2018 (not 5th, 13th, 20th), 13:30

South Bend Dramaturgy: Ben Harrison @ Edfringe 2018

South Bend 
By Martin McCormick
Directed by Ben Harrison
Foley Artistry by David Pollock
Video Design by Lewis den Hertog
Set & Costume Design by Claire Halleran
Cast: Martin McCormick and Jess Chanliau

South Bend
By Martin McCormick
Presented by Grid Iron in association with Platform
Directed by Ben Harrison
Foley Artistry by David Pollock
Video Design by Lewis den Hertog
Set & Costume Design by Claire Halleran
Cast: Martin McCormick and Jess Chanliau

In 2006 Martin McCormick flew across the Atlantic to be reunited with a woman he had fallen passionately in love with. But in the four months of their absence she had changed. Changed her hair colour. Her body shape, her address. And almost as soon as he’s arrived he’s on the road again, penniless and hallucinating.
South Bend muses on journeys, on the dusty road, on long-distance love dissolving into the pixilated blur of Skype, on the vast distances of the Atlantic Ocean and the American continent and of men and women separated by a common language.
 “Strangers would buy you drinks in bars because, ‘Hey, are you Scottish?  This guy’s Scottish!  Everyone!  EVERYONE! LISTEN UP!  This guy is Scottish.  That’s awesome, man. Lemme buy you a drink dude.  My last name is McDonnell!!”
“That’s actually Irish, but I’ll have a bottle of Corona thanks…”
Performed by Martin McCormick and Jess Chanliau, who plays all the other parts, and underscored by the live foley artist David Pollock, South Bend is a road movie for the stage - of hope, of love, of Eddie Izzard and an AIDS blanket. Of a small country and a vast one…of a good Samaritan and a relationship gone bad…

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The inspiration was Martin McCormick's own true story of falling in love with an American, and with America, when he was a drama student from Glasgow on an exchange programme with California Institute of the Arts in LA in 2006. I first worked with Martin ten years ago when he was in the Grid Iron/Dundee Rep co-production Yarn. We went for a drink at the end of the first week and he told me his incredible story.

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

Live performance is more important than ever. It is the best means for disseminating truth, which we need now more than before in this era of fake news. You can't edit a performer who is standing in front of you, you can't exaggerate the numbers in the audience, or create a different impression from what is actually happening with a zoom or a top shot.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I thought I was the best actor in the country when I was 16. I was going to be the new Kenneth Branagh. I didn't like the idea of directors so I formed an ensemble of actors including myself when I was 17. But I became the director by default. I kept trying to get into Central and Bristol Old Vic theatre schools as an actor and eventually Maggie Kinloch, who ran the postgraduate programme at Central, suggested that I apply the following year as a director. 

I got in immediately and have been working as a professional theatre director ever since. On July 21st I will have been directing for 30 years. 

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

I always approach rehearsals in the same spirit: to be open, to be playful, to create a safe space for the actors to take risks, make mistakes and be foolish if they need to be. I take a strongly physical approach, with a yoga style warm up each morning and a notorious exercise where we all throw sticks at each other. The particularity of this show is that we have the author performing in it so that's an amazing resource. The content of the show also chimes with my recent personal history so that's a bonus. I have an additional insight into the subject matter.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Grid Iron are best known for our site-based work. When we began in 1995 we were the only Scottish site-based theatre company and were regarded as pioneers in the form. Now, with site work being much more ubiquitous, it is just as interesting for us to work in theatres, as we are with South Bend

The recipe is always the same for us, to find the perfect match of site and subject. And sometimes that site is a theatre. At the Gilded Balloon we are in a lecture theatre-style space which fits with our grungy TED talk aesthetic for this show.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope they will laugh, reflect on the differences between the States and Scotland, revel in the exoticism of foreign travel and experience the glory and pain of young love.

Martin McCormick has previously worked with Grid Iron as an actor, first in 2008 in Yarn, its co-production with Dundee Rep and again in 2010 when his performance in its 10th anniversary remount of Decky Does a Bronco gained him a Best Actor nomination in The Stage awards. He has since become one of Scotland’s most exciting emerging playwrights and winner of Best New Play (CATS 2015 for Squash).
Grid Iron has a long track record of producing excellent and popular work at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe and is excited about performing in an actual venue for only the second time in its twenty-year Fringe history. While the script does not demand a site-specific presentation, the production style will resemble a TED talk, making the most of the lecture theatre feel of the Auditorium in the Museum and keeping a gentle sense of site-response while being very adaptable to other venues
Following its preview in Platform and run at the Fringe, South Bend will tour to The Byre, St Andrews; Paisley Arts Centre; Eden Court, Inverness; The Lemon Tree, Aberdeen finishing up in The Tron, Glasgow at the end of September. 
Previews      27 & 28 July  Platform, Easterhouse
1 – 27 Aug               Gilded Balloon at the Museum -
31 Aug & 1 Sept     Byre Theatre, St Andrews –
4 Sept                       Paisley Arts Centre –
7 – 8 Sept                Eden Court Theatre, Inverness –
11 – 12 Sept             Lemon Tree, Aberdeen –
14 – 15 Sept            Cumbernauld Theatre –
19 – 22 Sept            Tron Theatre, Glasgow –

To Have Done with the Dramaturgy of God: Fear No Colous @ Edfringe 2018

Fear No Colours
To Have Done With the Judgement of God
by Antonin Artaud

‘Remake his anatomy. Man is sick because he is badly constructed’

How many pounds of flesh does it take to feed a god? The Earth Mother Gaia is in chains, a flesh mechanic tasked with breeding men in infinite numbers to feed a war machine in the name of the modern gods. 

The battle between god and earth is unending, and in the barren wastelands between them, wretched bodies crawl across the ground in a savage howl from birth to decay. Helpless flesh is taught to move, to stand and walk and become the children of civilization, as the wheel of time continue its endless and torturous revolution.

Commemorating the 70th anniversary of the death of Antonin Artaud, and his invaluable contribution to modern performance practices, Fear No Colours are proud to present a new physical adaptation of his final, staggering masterpiece. The text was originally written as a radio play, but censored from broadcast due to its content being deemed blasphemous.

Julia Midtgard, director of To Have Done With the Judgement of God - Fear No Colours Theatre

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The text itself was, actually. This year marks the 70th anniversary of Artaud’s death, he completed the play shortly before passing, and while it’s been that long since he wrote Judgement, it sounds terrifyingly current. I say terrifying, as his vision of that time truly is harrowingly bleak. 

While it’s originally a play for radio, his language is so visceral that it seemed rather necessary to perform the text as physical theatre. There’re also echoes of radio in there, sonic spaces and sections in darkness, but the visual is absolutely key as well. I wanted to use his text to create a piece that could echo its own time as much as our time and the challenges faced in the scope of 70 years, while trying not to be didactic about it. 

Also, on a purely self-indulgent level, as a director you hardly get more exciting challenges than lines like ‘body without organs’ and ‘dance the wrong side out’. It’s so rarely performed, which I think is a shame, but that also adds to the desire to produce it.

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

Oh, I’d say absolutely yes. I think in a way theatre can be the very best space; even if the performance is preaching to the converted, as it were, a visceral experience can very easily heighten the stakes for the spectator and allow us to speculate as to why we feel so strongly about the issues raised. 

Theatre as an artform is unique in the way that it necessitates an exchange between the performer and spectator – the experience of the performance only exists in the spectator’s memory once the curtain falls, where it is filtered through their own frame of reference, influenced by their own thoughts and ideas, and thus emerges as something new as soon as we begin talking about it. That quality of liveness and ephemerality is hard to find anywhere else.

How did you become interested in making performance?

From mass consuming theatre, both as live performance and reading playtexts as a teenager, I was hugely fascinated by what theatre could do and particularly the ‘impossible’ theatre. Inevitably I realised that the only way to fully explore the possibilities and boundaries of performance was to start making it myself, so off the back of my MA degree I started Fear No Colours as a way to explore ideas and work with other artists with similar interests. 

I’ve been incredibly fortunate to work with some amazing performers and practitioners over the past four years, and have received wonderful support from the network around us, which I believe has been essential in bringing FNC where it is at the moment – bold, risk-taking practice exploring the forms of theatre we’re most passionate about.

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

Several! As difficult as it is at times, we’re aiming to take a step out of Artaud’s Theatre of Cruelty and move more towards Catastrophism and the neo-brutalist. While Artaud was quite keen on a shared audience experience, I’m more fascinated by the fractured and isolated experience of the individual as a means to free imagination. 

It’s challenging, as the text for the most part is so clear in intent – it’s quite overtly political – but we’re working to find spaces of open speculation, to not make it a matter of USA against the world, or searching for the individual truth in a world of lies, it’s far bigger than that. In addition we’re working from a wide range of physical practice, taking inspiration from everything from Laban to contemporary physical practice inspired by for instance Frantic Assembly and Gecko. 

And of course there are traces of Cruelty present as well – we’re aiming for a truly visceral experience and have spent a fair bit of time exploring rituals, dreams, ideographs and the tension between the individual’s inner and outer boundaries.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Very much so, our previous work has been largely based in contemporary British drama (Kane, Ridley, Ravenhill, Neilson) and Artaud is in a lot of ways part of the origins of that. At the same time, viscerality and individual experience has always been a very important factor in our work, so it’s almost a bit of an obvious choice to go with Artaud, to be honest. Hopefully our loyal audiences from the past will enjoy it as well.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I want our audiences to experience the performance entirely as their own, private moment. There’s no message really, there’s nothing specific we’re trying to say, but ideally it might be a space for people to speculate, to feel and to engage with their own thoughts on the world and how we interact with it. Ideally I’d love for every single spectator to come out with a completely unique idea of what they’ve just seen – something just for them. This is always my aim, and if we achieve that with Judgement, I couldn’t ask for anything more.

The text savagely tears into its time, its future and the very flesh of its creator, asking what it will take for humanity to free itself from perceived judgement, in order to finally ‘dance the wrong side out’.

Fear No Colours is a Glasgow-based theatre company committed to visceral and affective performance practice across disciplines. Following their critically acclaimed productions of Cleansed by Sarah Kane at the 2015 Edinburgh Festival Fringe, Mercury Fur and Dark Vanilla Jungle by Philip Ridley at the 2016 Festival, and the Scottish Arts Club Theatre Award nominated Penetrator by Anthony Neilson at the 2017 Festival, the company returns again with their most ambitious material to date.

The company are also performing Bucket Men by Samuel Skoog at C Royale 

Listings Information
Venue: C too, St Columba's by the Castle, Johnston Terrace, EH1 2PW, venue 4
Dates: 2-27 Aug (not 13)
Time: 20:15 (0hr50)
Ticket prices: £9.50-£11.50 / concessions £7.50-£9.50 / under 18s £5.50-£7.50
C venues box office: 0131 581 5555 /
Fringe box office: 0131 226 0000 /