Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Locus Dramaturgy: Atresbandes @ Edfringe 2017

ATRESBANDES theatre company

Locus Amoenus

Three strangers meet on a train. In one hour, the train will crash and they will all die.

Award winning Spanish company ATRESBANDES bring their critically acclaimed piece Locus Amoenus to Summerhall for Edinburgh Fringe 2017, exploring the idea of paradise through the meeting of three strangers on a train that’s about to crash.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The first inspiration was the place where we started to create the show and the title "Locus Amoenus" meaning pleasant place comes from there). It was in a beautiful arts centre in Birmingham, based in the middle of a gorgeous park, with a lake and trees. There was snow everywhere. So, that touched us and inspired us. It was a real artistic “locus amoenus” for us (we had all our time and space to do something) and for sure, that suggested us to think about the idea of "Paradise".
Also, there's a book called "Tunel" by F. Durrenmat that give us the idea of the theatrical game we propose in the show. And also, the film "Europa" by Lars Von Trier.

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

It has to be, for sure. After a very good show, not only beauty or enjoyment or even anger appears, also a waterfall of thoughts and emotions.
I think that's because a good performance is the point that is below a question mark symbol, but a question mark at the end on stage. That's what we try to do in our shows. After that, after see a "final" question mark, we hope or we would to like to open others questions in the audience.

How did you become interested in making performance?

In our case, was an organic and natural thing. We met each other at theatre school in Barcelona and we started working to try to make the theatre that we would like to see on stage.
As I said before, theatre helps us, not to answer the daily life, but at least, to do something with all these questions that we have.

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

No. Maybe the particular approach is that we don't have one, and in each of our different performances we start in a different way. We're very a chaotic and not methodical company, we don't know what we can do until do it, so we need lot of time to create.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

We work as a devising theatre Company, without a previous text. We start only with an idea. So, each show we made is relative to our "personal and artistic moment". When we premiered this show, we thought it was something very different to the previous one "Solfatara" but now, after a while, I realise that is an organic and very logical step, and even if the form is different, yes, I think it fits. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

That's difficult because I think you can't control that. For "Locus Amoenus" maybe we would like to investigate or taste the concept of time. What happens if the audience has more information than the performers on stage, and how that changes the perception of the action and of time.
And also, in this show, we wanted to "relax" the theatrical conventions. For example, there's no black out, we start on stage as performers waiting for the start and looking to the audience without hiding our nervousness and the excitement we have. We perform with all the technical things like very exposed, without hiding microphones or the cables. The lighting is always the same.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
I think, I answer that before!

LOCUS AMOENUS video promo from ATRESBANDES on Vimeo.

Locus Amoenus takes its title from a Latin term meaning “pleasant place”, characterised in literature and visual arts throughout history as a sunlit glade or meadow. Through a series of conversations and situations, efforts to understand and be understood, the show asks what paradise means to each person and, as the train speeds towards to its fatal conclusion, asks whether we pay enough attention on life’s journey.

Locus Amoenus is performed mostly in English with additional projected text that acts as a narrator and guide to the inner thoughts of the characters. Not knowing that they are about to die, the characters go about their lives, connecting to each other and isolating themselves, understanding and misunderstanding, getting hung up on trivialities and not saying what they most want to say. What new meaning does the hour have if it’s to be their last?

Company member Albert Pérez Hidalgo said, “The inspiration for our work comes from a number of sources, including everyday life and situations, sitting on a fine line between biography and fiction. In Locus Amoenus, the three characters partly represent ourselves and through the course of their final hour, we see their dreams, fears and hidden desires. We drew on a variety of source material including Freidrich Dürrenmatt's novel The Tunnel and films such as Lars von Trier's Europe. Some of the imagery was inspired by our travels around the UK on tour as well as the beautiful parkland at mac in Birmingham where we first began work on the piece.”

15th – 27th August, 2.50pm, Summerhall, Venue 26 

Tickets: 0131 560 1581 | 0131 226 0000

@ATRESBANDES | #locusamoenus | |

Running Time: 60 minutes | Suitable for ages 14+

ATRESBANDES are a company from Barcelona who have rapidly established a reputation as creators of sharp, perceptive work for international audiences. They have won numerous awards including First Prize and Audience Prize at BE Festival 2012 in Birmingham for Solfatara and Best Direction at Skena Up 2014 in Kosovo for Locus Amoenus. The company was formed in 2008 with the aim of creating devised work through a truly collaborative process.

Company and creatives:
Devised and performed by: Mònica Almirall Batet, Miquel Segovia Garrell, Albert Pérez Hidalgo
Voice recordings: Iara Solano Arana, Sammy Metcalfe
Lighting design: Alberto Rodríguez
Sound design: Joan Solé
Producers: Sarah-Jane Watkinson (UK), Nùria Segovia Garrell (Spain)

Fan Dramaturgy: Rik Carranza @ Edfringe 2017

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I’ve been a stand up comedian for the last 8 years and I wanted to try something new. So, with support form the Arts Council England, and some great script editors, I have written a more storytelling comedy show which explores the ideas of acceptance, fandom and touches on mental health issues. It is inspired by events of my own life, my love of Star Trek and my own battles with bullying and depression.

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

Absolutely. In a performance you are free to find new and interesting ways to explore complex ideas, as well as challenge established ones. It is also an interesting exercise to try to make your work is as accessible as possible.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Since I was a child I’ve always wanted to be a performer, or more accurately, the centre of attention. I’d always make jokes and act out but it wasn’t until about 2009, on the back of a £1 bet, that I started performing stand up comedy properly.

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

It was just a lot of writing! Breaking down the show into sections to work on it, lots of practice and filling up a whiteboard with new ideas every day. Oh, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
Does the show fit with your usual productions?

I’m a stand up comedian so this show is a lot more honest and personal than what I would do in a stand up set. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Lots of laughs mainly! However, I hope to take them on a journey and have them realise at the end that it’s ok to be you.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I did look into having more sound cues, making it more interactive and having props and set. However, after writing and previews, it became apparent that keeping the show as simple as possible made for a more rewarding and immersive experience for the audience

Dramaturgy Cherry: Loose Cannon @ Edfringe 2017

Cherry draws on over three hundred real testimonials from ordinary people that have been collected by Loose Cannon Theatre over the last year and distilled into six voices each exploring a different aspect of this 21st Century taboo. 

After a sell-out run in London earlier this month, our actors have been privileged to gain access to so many individual accounts of virginity and far too many began with phrases such as: “I’ve never told anyone this before”. It’s time to start talking about virginity and that’s what we intend to do.

Using voices from within the LGBTQ+ and disabled communities, from online forums, and from people with radically different cultural and religious backgrounds, the show weaves a myriad of perspectives together using innovative and highly physical staging to explore the rich tapestry of society’s attitudes to this sexual inauguration.

Cherry can be seen at The Space @ Venue 45 on 63 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DH. It can be seen every night between Wednesday August 9th and Saturday August 26th (times: August 9-13 22.25pm; August 14-19 23.25pm; and August 20-26 22.25pm)

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Cutbacks in state funded sexual education have meant that many young people are finding out about sex for the first time from online porn and Chinese whispers. Cherry aims to address this dearth of discussion by speaking plainly and openly about sex and sexuality on stage. These are deeply personal performances. The theatre group has been privileged to gain access to so many individual accounts of virginity and far too many began with phrases such as: “I’ve never told anyone this before”. It’s time to start talking about virginity and that’s what we intend to do.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an epicentre of candidness. People from around the world from a wide variety of backgrounds come together to discuss the ‘un-discussable’ through theatre, and what better place to bring Cherry! Performing verbatim theatre literally brings voices to the unheard, and publicly and unabashedly brings the discussion of taboo subjects such as virginity to the forefront. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

Myself (Anna Wyn, the Producer) and the three other creators of Loose Cannon Theatre, met at The University of Bristol. Two English Students, one Psychology students and one Liberal Arts student. Having performed at The Fringe over many years with other companies, we decided to come together as a collective. We all became fascinating with Verbatim Theatre, and realised that it was the best way to speak plainly through performance about Virginity. 

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

Drawing from over 300 anonymous written submissions and verbatim interviews as well as material from popular media and online forums, ‘Cherry’ explores how "losing your virginity" has become so much more than simply having sex for the first time. In its retelling of real experiences both shocking and hilarious, 'Cherry' takes an honest look at a social construct that needs some serious rethinking. 
Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is our premier show! We came together last year with one aim in mind, to put on a verbatim show about virginity. To go down to the nitty gritty  We had a sell-out run in London in July, and the feedback was incredible. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope to hear people in the audience honestly talking about their first times, honestly talking about their experiences upon waling out. We hope to hear people feel that their thoughts, grievances, worries  have been voiced on stage. We hope for them to submit their stories at the beginning of our show, and hope that they find a relief in writing their experiences down on paper for them to be heard in our next show. We well and truly want our audience to find solace in the fact that we’re all thinking the same thing, why does nobody talk about it? 

If Dramaturgy: Lynn Pegler @ Edfringe 2017


An exciting new one act play about Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling will be on stage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for five performances, 23-25 August.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I was invited to write a play about an author for a festival of writers in Liverpool. Deciding which writer to choose was difficult but my starting point was the nation’s favourite poem ’If’ by Rudyard Kipling. I then investigated Kipling’s life and discovered he was very well travelled and had suffered all sorts of personal difficulties and regrets. This all made great material for a play.

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

I think performance is an excellent place for presenting ideas and information. Many view Kipling as a two dimensional, unfashionable, out of date writer. I hope my play helps to present a much more complex character and show how he was an immensely gifted product of his time and background. It’s good to start a debate.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I enjoy writing and performing so it’s great to combine the two.

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

I wanted it to be lively, with plenty of movement. America, Britain, India and Japan are represented on stage and Kipling moves around the world with a suitcase – always travelling and searching.

I also wanted to feature his most popular poems and stories, plus some surprises, woven into the dialogue.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Every production is different.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope to delight, entertain and provide an exciting insight into a great man’s extraordinary life.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Audiences have talked of laughing and crying during the preview shows which is exactly what we were hoping for. The show contains humour and intense sadness.

‘If Only: An Audience with Rudyard Kipling’, by Lynn Pegler, explores his extraordinary life and devastating personal consequences of World War One. The Nobel Literature Prize winner is famous for writing the nation’s favourite poem ‘If’ – which will feature along with other popular poems and stories woven into the one hour stage show.

Lynn said: “We are particularly thrilled to bring this production to the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre as the two authors were apparently good friends. Kipling invited Conan Doyle to stay with him in America when he was living in Vermont. It appears that Conan Doyle taught him to play golf in the snow – by painting the golf balls red!

“I was inspired to write the show for a festival of authors in Liverpool. The more I delved into Kipling’s fascinating itinerant life, the more it became apparent that he suffered a series of major regrets – hence the title.

“I am delighted to say the previews have gone down a storm and we are very much looking forward to premiering the show in this beautiful Victorian building which has so many associations for both great writers.”

‘If Only: An Audience with Rudyard Kipling’, performed in costume by Matt Jones and Lynn Pegler, will be on stage at 12 noon daily from Wednesday 23 to Sunday 27 August, at the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre, 25 Palmerston Place, EH12 5AP. Venue 290, near Haymarket.

Tickets are priced £8 (£7) and are available from the Fringe Box Office tel 0131 226 0000.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Previously Published in The Skinny: The Wau Wau Sisters

The last time I saw a burlesque routine dealing with religion, it featured a simpering girl dressed up as a nun, unable to inhabit the power of the character and pandering to a cheering audience. If the Wau Wau Sisters don't offer a complete critique of Christianity in , their burlesque acrobatics scatter bullets at teenage chastity and its inherent pornographic fantasy, New Age paganism and the idea of burlesque itself.

In just under an hour, the Sisters terrify the audience, swing on a trapeze, sing country songs while balancing on each other, dress two audience members as satyrs, end up fully naked - as they point out, no commodification of the body in this show - and make the link between rough hewn live art and cabaret.

The Wau Waus refuse to bow to any sort of theatrical courtesy. Their aesthetic is immediate, ragged and vigorous. They are utterly fearles, whether engaging directly with the audience or tackling taboos. Unlike most burlesque, their talk of gender is no insipid fig-leaf for self-aggrandisement. Even better, they have a talent that doesn't just involve undressing and smiling at the audience.

Despite the mayhem and apparent aggression, The Last Supper is a funny, feel good show. The serious message, about embracing change and fearlessness, is expressed not through rhetoric but the ferocious pace. This might be a long way from the vaudeville tradition, and anyone hoping for cheap thrills will be disappointed when complacency receives a sharp slap.