Saturday, 28 July 2018

Dramaturgy things happen here: Lila and Eric @ Edfringe 2018


What was the inspiration for this performance?

Eric: The piece began when I was reading about the Dirty War in Argentina. In particular, I was drawing from this book Lexicon of Terror by Marguerite Feitlowitz which, in part, discusses how everyday language got corrupted during the Dirty War. Innocent words and phrases became oblique references to state violence. From there, I began writing a play about a fictional country grappling with a new, totalitarian government.

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

Lila & Eric: On some days I’m deeply suspicious of what theatre actually accomplishes. It always feels funny to say that my artistic discipline just happens to be the most important discipline. That said, I think the value of theatre is that it is the most social of the art forms. It lives at the perimeter of civic activity and artistic practice. It cannot exist without collaboration. Because of all of this, perhaps naively, theatre feels to me like one of the few collective experiences left in the world,  and therefore a place for social and public discourse on ideas and events.

How did you become interested in making performance?

EricL When I was four years old a touring production for Beauty and the Beast came through town. I was hooked from that point on. It wasn’t until college that I really figured out I didn’t want to act (and that I was a bad actor), and wanted to write instead.

Lila: My story is exactly the same, except that it was middle school and I was auditioning for Seussical the Musical, and in college I figured out I wanted to direct.

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

Lila: bad things happen here is rhythm-driven, meaning that the stagecraft and technical elements are designed to ensure that nothing disrupts the quick pace and accumulation of the play. Eric is very intentional about when information is released to the audience, so paradoxically, the design is abstract so that you're not getting a ton of detail about place, time, world, etc. from the set and costumes. All of the information comes through the dialogue and relationship between the characters. There's very little blocking and gesture, the costumes might be something one might wear today, and the original music communicates tone and mood rather than location and setting. Each design element acquires specific meaning only later in the play. (And we don't want to give too much away!) The design team and actors have done an extraordinary job painting with an extremely limited palette.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Eric: Yes and no. I always try to work from a place of not-knowing when I approach each new show. I’m at my worst when I work with rules from previous projects to make the next one. That said, I think bad things happens here shares certain common interests that run through my work - issues of political corruption, class, and misogyny; a structural playfulness; a resistance to easy catharsis or resolution; a certain minimalist aesthetic.

Lila: I tend to approach my work through a lens of power: who has it and who doesn't? How is it functioning in the world of the play? In that sense, bad things happen here fits very neatly with the rest of my work. Aesthetically, it's the most strictly minimalist production I've ever directed. I almost always think less is more onstage, but with bad things happen here we really took that to an extreme, which was very exciting.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Eric: The play asks how we challenge or become complicit in systems of oppression. By presenting the play through the eyes of over forty characters, my hope is it eschews any easy answers or feelings that one character is the “correct one.” Hopefully, the play leaves spaces for a multiplicity of points of view. There’s also lot of surprises throughout,, and we hope people enjoy the mystery of the piece.

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