Monday, 7 August 2017

Dead People Don't have Dramaturgy: Byteback @ Edfringe 2017

This August, the critically acclaimed Byteback Theatre returns to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival for their 6th consecutive year to premiere their new production: Dead People Don’t Have Secrets. Devised by a diverse and talented cast of 7 young emerging actors from Burnley, this production looks to be their best yet.

Everyone has secrets - even the dead. So when a group of people suddenly end their lives, grief turns to anger and shame as secrets of loved ones come to light.

Dead People Don’t Have Secrets follows the lives of four young people as they go into adulthood carrying a dark secret. Rumours, dares, and lies get out of hand and friendships turn sour. The lives of people around them are affected, and they must work through their guilt and shame to find justice, peace, or truth once their secrets come to a head.

Dead People Don’t Have Secrets will be showing from the 7th - 10th August 2017 at 12:45 (45 mins) at Lime Studio at Greenside @Nicolson Square  (Venue 209). 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The show was originally inspired by the title of a Death, Sex and Money podcast of the same name and we were fascinated about the secrets that people carry with them through their lives that may only come to light once they are dead. We also looked at recent trends of suicide clusters and what would drive a group of people to end their lives. 

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

I believe so. As a theatre maker and theatre go-er, I am interested in shows that provoke conversation and bring relevant issues into our every day discussions. I like to walk out of theatre with questions, ready to talk with friends and colleagues about what we have seen and shared together. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I first directed a show at University and made plenty of devised work as a student. The work I make now as the Artistic Director of Burnley Youth Theatre feeds my passion for making theatre which challenges audiences, explores taboo subject matters and gives young people an opportunity to make work that is important to them. 

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

Dead People Don't Have Secrets is a devised piece and so the approach and process has been quite organic and has evolved on a daily basis - especially over the past 2 weeks of more intensive rehearsals. We began to devise the show without the actors being given set parts so we could develop characters and story arch as a group. This was an interesting and powerful process because it gave all performers ownership of each character's journey and how they all fitted together within the narrative. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This show is real departure from Byteback Theatre's usual quirky and creative devised theatre. It is gritty, thought provoking and much more adult focused from before. This has been a new challenge for the cast of 17 year olds but they have handled all themes with maturity and thoughtfulness. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We want the audience to have their perceptions of people challenged, to be moved and to be gripped by the storyline. The show was described at our preview show as thought provoking by numerous audience members so we hope our Edinburgh audiences will leave with conversations ready to be had with their friends and colleagues!  

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

We played around with how far we could push our audience in some of the more serious scenes. There is a sexual assault scene and we want the audience to feel uncomfortable but we didn't want people too distressed so we had to find the right balance for that scene. The play builds in tension as it goes on and the gripping effect we want the audience to feel really does capture people from about 20 minutes in. 

Dead People Don’t Have Secrets explores death, consequences, and lies through physical theatre, spoken word, and new writing. Themes of sexual assault and suicide are brought to life with stylised choreography and a harrowing soundtrack. In a departure from their usual quirky and playful style, Byteback Theatre approach complex and hard-hitting issues with sensitivity and understanding.

Byteback Theatre was established in 2009 and first performed at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012 with Three Words, a subtle and superb mix of the silly, the surreal, and the sinister presented through movement and words. Since their debut, they have gone from strength to strength, last year taking a cast of 14 to perform The Curious Sole of Luna Cobbler, a quirky piece of visual theatre which will prove a sharp contrast to this year’s performance.

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