Monday, 23 July 2018

Dramaturgy Returns: Dan Coleman @ Edfringe 2018

Edinburgh Fringe 2018
Dawn State Presents
Written and directed by Dan Coleman (after Jonathan Swift)
August 2 – 26
14.00 (60 mins)
Underbelly – Big Belly
So I’ll bring him out. I think this is going to be quite... Lem isn’t really used to company so please bear with us. But it was important for him to say what he has to say, and I know you’ll keep an open mind.

Lil and Lem’s world has been torn apart by loss. In an attempt to escape his grief Lem has retreated into the imaginary world of Gulliver’s Travels. 

Now he believes he’s adventurer and author Lemuel Gulliver; a man on a mission to save humanity from itself. As a result, Lil has her own mission of mercy to perform. No matter what the cost, she must find a way to drag this broken man out of his fantasy. She must find a way to bring him home.

First of all, how do you define mental health? What does the term mean to you - do you have a social model of sanity, for example, or is it concerned with neural atypical conditions? 

I honestly don’t know if there’s a simple way of defining mental health. I know from experience that my own mental health is largely defined by the external factors impacting on it. Other people I’m close to have far more complex relationships with their mental health. For them to be in ‘good’ health requires them to negotiate a lot of internal, as well as external, challenges. The great irony of living with those internal challenges – those neural atypicality’s that you mention - is that the game is essentially rigged. Great misfortune probably will bring great turmoil. But great fortune often doesn’t equal great joy. 

What areas of mental health are you looking at in the performance?
Gulliver Returns is about the strange places our mind goes to when our world is split apart. Ultimately, it’s about grief. It uses the idea of a person becoming lost in a book to explore the dis-locating effect that grief has on your sense of self; your sense of the world; and your relationship with others. The couple in this play are grief-stricken, and that trauma has turned the world around them into a strange and savage place; just like the lands that Gulliver visits on his travels. They’re now adrift in that world and the play is about what it might take for them to find a way back.

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? 

I don’t know that the play is attempting to educate particularly, but I do hope it’s a cathartic experience for an audience. If there’s a message there it’s probably that you can’t run away from yourself. You can’t run away from the things that haunt you. So ultimately you have to turn around and face them. It’s also about what it means to come home. Home might be a place, or it might be a person, but returning to it is probably your best bet at overcoming the things that you’ve been running from.

And given the high pressure nature of the Fringe, do you have any ideas about positive self-care during August in Edinburgh. 
I think having your own space is really important. Keeping in contact with the outside world is really important. Getting some sleep is really important. The occasional fried Mars bar helps as well.

Inspired by Jonathan Swift’s savage masterpiece Gulliver’s TravelsGulliver Returns is a ​haunting new play about broken dreams and enduring love. Raging, tragic and magical, it digs deep into the heart of Swift’s sweeping epic to reveal the story of a grieving couple trying to put themselves back together in a world that’s tearing itself apart.

First published in 1726, Swift’s ground-breaking epic has never been out of print. In 2013 it was voted number three in the Guardian’s list of the hundred greatest novels ever written, and its profound influence on modern fiction looms large over many of the great dystopian novels of the 19th and 20th centuries, including Orwell’s 1984.

Dawn State makes dynamic new work inspired by classic texts and forgotten stories. Its productions connect the most important questions of today with the shared narratives of our past to create theatre that is urgent, passionate and timeless. The company was formed in 2012 through an R&D Project supported by the Royal Shakespeare Company called A Fever Longing Still. Their full debut production The Man Who Would Be King began at the Edinburgh Festival in 2014 before transferring to Oxford Playhouse Studio and VAULT Festival London in 2015. Their other productions include The Wonderful Discovery of Witches (Edinburgh and London) and The Man Who Would Be King(UK tour).  Dawn State is led by director and producer Dan Coleman and supported by English Touring Theatre through their ETT Forge development programme.

Dan Coleman’s recent work for Dawn State includes The Wonderful Discovery of Witches in the County of Lancaster (New Diorama & Greenwich Theatre 2016; Oxford Playhouse & Edinburgh Festival 2015) and The Man Who Would Be King (UK Tour 2016; New Diorama & Edinburgh Festival 2014) which he also adapted. Recent freelance work as director includes Paradoxy (Pegasus Theatre & Trafalgar Studios); Philistines and A Month in the Country(both Oxford School of Drama); The Merchant of Venice (RSC workshop production); Hedda Gabler (Drama Centre London) and Skittles (BAC & Edinburgh Festival). Recent work as dramaturg includes Years of Sunlight(Theatre503) and Dirty Great Love Story (Arts Theatre, UK Tour, 59E59 New York & Edinburgh). Recent producing credits include Child of the Divide for Bhuchar Boulevard (Polka & UK Tour) and My Name Is for Tamasha (Edinburgh & Scottish Tour). He was the joint programming director at Theatre503 in 2009, the resident assistant director at Sheffield Crucible in 2010, and the recipient of the TDA emerging producer bursary at Tamasha Theatre Company in 2015. He trained at Birkbeck College

Edinburgh Fringe
GULLIVER RETURNSWritten and directed by Dan Coleman
August 2 – 26

14.00 (60mins)

Underbelly Big Belly

August 2 to 3
 £7 (previews)

August 8-9, 14-16, 20-23
£10.00 (£9.00)
August 4-7, 10-12, 17-19, 24-26,
 £11.00 (£10.00)
Day off August 13

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