Saturday, 21 July 2018

Dramaturgy to Remain: Ollie Harrington@ Edfringe 2018

  Leave. to Remain 

(An Aristophanic Brexit Tale)

  3-11 Aug 2018 @ The Argyll Theatre, theSpace on North Bridge, Edinburgh

Leave. to Remain imagines an alt-reality Brexit Britain, where crashing out of Europe with no deal has brought ridiculous consequences. The Government has outsourced democracy to TV voting show, pizza has been banned for its foreign origins, and a visa to France now costs €30 (£300).

Eventually Dick, the everyman protagonist, has had enough and rejoins the EU all on his own. The play follows him on his journey to Brussels and back, where Ol' Nige and the chorus of angry Brexiteers are desperate to shut down Dick and his makeshift 'single' market.

What was the inspiration for this

'Leave. To Remain' is based on an ancient Greek play called 'Acharnians' by the comic playwright Aristophanes. Aristophanes always had plenty to say about democracy in Athens, and I found that many of the issues he managed to make people laugh about - the rise of populists, polarised societies, incompetent governments - are once again problems for us living two millennia later. 

So in the chaotic days following the 2016 referendum result I looked to him for a story and found 'Acharnians', where one man gets so fed up of nationalists stoking enmities with a neighbouring state he negotiates himself an exemption from it all. It fit like a glove, and so our 'Brexit' tale began.

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

Absolutely, theatre was invented to bring communities together to consider the state of their society - Aristophanes and his ancient Greeks prove that this is especially true for comic performance. In a world where the most important ideas, particularly political ones, have to navigate the absurdities of reality we have to be able laugh along to understand them.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I've always had a wild imagination and enjoyed creative new worlds and stories in my mind, performance allowed me to articulate that and make myself more understood. I also loved how it brings people together even in the most testing circumstances, something I truly realised when putting on plays in ancient Greek when I studied at King's College London.

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

At Found In Translation we make sure the whole company gets to contribute creatively toward our shows. For 'Leave. To Remain' we would use improvisation workshops to help devise the script - whatever was funniest made it in and I built the script around those lines before going into rehearsals.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This was the very first show the Found In Translation produced, so in many ways it's the company's flagship, although since then we've development more work, including far more tragic material.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Ultimately it's a comedy, so I want them to experience lots of laughter! It would be nice to think the show might shake up peoples ideas about Brexit and get people of different opinions talking together in a constructive way, but more than anything I want everyone to have fun.

Based on The Acharnians by Aristophanes, director Ollie Harrington's "naturally funny and original" script (The Open Door) explores the contemporary political landscape with all the silliness and satire of Greek Comedy. Here the chaos of direct democracy in ancient Athens is "masterfully incorporated" (The New Satyrica) into an absurd near-future which explores the issues facing Britain today, from the rise of populism to the problem of patriarchal power. 

Brought to life by FIT Theatre's talented ensemble, Leave to Remain is packed with keenly drawn caricatures and (in)famous faces which reflect the personalities at the heart of British society in 2018.

Found In Translation Theatre Company was set up in 2016 with a mission to tell today's tales with adaptation and inspiration from our classical past. Leave. To Remain, the Company's flagship production, debuted at The Water Rats (London) as part of the 2017 Camden Fringe Festival and was reprised at the Etcetera Theatre (London) in January 2018. It will be performed on 16th July at Cheney School (Oxford) in collaboration with the Iris Project, which supports the teaching of classical subjects in the state sector, as part of the Company's educational outreach programme. 2018 will mark FIT Theatre's debut at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

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