Saturday, 21 July 2018

Prehistoric Dramaturgy: Elbow Room @ Edfringe 2018

Elbow Room presents
Part theatre show, part punk gig, this raucous, energetic four-hander explores nationalism, corruption and the pivotal moment that created Brisbane bands The Saints and The Go-Betweens
Directed by Marcel Dorney | Performed by Grace Cummings, Sahil Saluja, Brigid Gallacher and Zachary Pidd
Demonstration Room, Summerhall, 3 - 26 August (not 6, 13 or 20), 21:15 (22:30), 14+
This charged, award-winning Australian play - being performed internationally for the first time - is about social solidarity, cultural experimentation and discovering our capacity to resist, with an original live soundtrack played by the performers.

how would define the political content of your work?
are there ways in which your work can engage the audience beyond the immediate emotional rush of the content, and move forward towards further action?

For us, these are really the same question. Being in a room with strangers and becoming a community is an immensely powerful experience. It's also very easy for this experience to induce boredom, ennui and despair at the possibility of political change: and sometimes it's deliberately subsidised to do exactly that.

What we want to share with our audiences is that it's not just possible, but also exciting, to talk in public about power, and how it's used, and why. It's exciting to ask questions about why things are the way they are. It's exciting to be in a strange room listening and watching actors work, and feel that you and a room full of people you haven't met share their curiosity about those questions. 

We don't tell you how to vote, or what to throw at whom: we remind you that your attention is vital, and that power is furiously engaged with where your attention is focused, and how it's scattered.

how far do the material conditions of the Fringe impact on the process by which you make theatre for it?

'Prehistoric' is set in 1979, at the crest of the punk wave in Australia, in the notoriously authoritarian state of Queensland (a.k.a. Australia's 'Deep North'). More than chaos, or displays of rebellion, the deep inspiration of punk is in the maximum impact of available resources; grab what's to hand. For a show like this, the material conditions of the Fringe aren't the challenge: the challenge is to really make the most of everything that's available, to throw the focus on what's really important - the people in the room.

Set in Brisbane, Australia in 1979, Prehistoric, follows Deb, Nick, Pete and Rachel as they meet at a gig, start a band, and find out the hard way why their town stays so quiet and boring. Based on first-hand accounts of playing music and making history under the notoriously corrupt and brutal Bjelke-Petersen government, Pre- historic beams you straight to the beating heart of ‘Pig City’ (as Brisbane was dubbed) to remind you that while the fight is never over, it’s never futile.
Co-Artistic directors Marcel Dorney and Emily Tomlins said: “We grew up in Brisbane in the 1990s, and expe- rienced the social and cultural effects of the Bjelke-Petersen administration, which only ended in 1989. A number of our friends and colleagues still have scars from this period, some physical.
“Prehistoric’s central question of how culture - what we do together - can resist the pull of authoritarian nation- alism remains all too relevant today. Edinburgh and Glasgow, like Brisbane, have great and distinctive music scenes that really came to life in the late 1970s. In Prehistoric, we see an Australian cousin of that same spirit of cultural experimentation and social solidarity that resisted Thatcher in the 1980s.
“This story of a diverse group of dissident young people finding themselves in a fight against an ethnocentric, backward-looking nationalism will resonate with many young people in Britain, many of whom were and are finding out that they are profoundly at odds not only with Brexit, but the views that gave rise to and carried it.”

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