Monday, 27 July 2015

Institutional Dramaturgy: Gecko @ Edfringe 2015

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After the fire at Battersea Arts Centre, over 500 people supported Gecko in re-building Missing through a Kickstarter fund, which saw it tour Mexico in May.

Gecko returns to the UK stage for the first time since the fire with INSTITUTE, its 2014 success, playing at the Pleasance Grand this Edinburgh Festival Fringe.


Wednesday 5 – Saturday 29 August, 1.00pm (except 8th at 2.30pm, not 12th or 18th) Pleasance Grand.

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
I always began with a feeling.  In the case of INSTITUTE it’s about what it feels like to care for each other as human beings.  Why might we stop caring for each other and the complexities around care in our society.  
What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
My hope is that they see themselves in the piece, that they uncover and investigate some of their own ideas relating to care; personal experiences of caring for someone or being cared for etc. But we work hard to allow our audience to fall into the world in which these ideas and characters exists, hopefully then they can re-imagine the world in which they live.  I want them to laugh and wince at the ridiculous situations related to care and be moved by the depth of care possible in all of us.  

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
The dramaturgy is crucial and critical to the process of making the show and to all the potential voyages the audience might go on.  It is a very delicate thing in a Gecko show. The shape of the work is constantly in flux, settling and re-settling. The making of a Gecko show is a very organic process. The difficulty is that the dramaturgy must be strong, clear and simple but also open, transformative and poetic if it is going to be a successful experience! Clear and strong so that the audience feel safe and included and so that the company have conviction and clear intensions - but suggestive and transformative to invite the audience to invent and see themselves woven into the fabric of the show or the ideas of the show.  If you create the right environment and invite the audience in the right way, they will write the most extraordinary stories in and around the dramaturgy of the show!
 What particular traditions and influences would you acknowledge on your work -  have any particular artists, or genres inspired you and do you see yourself within their tradition?
David Glass
Lindsay Kemp
Charlie Chaplin
My name is Asha Lev by Chiam Potok
Tony Bennett
David Lynch
Das Boot
Perugia, Hanoi, Bogata, Jaffa, Buenos Aires
Villa Villa by De la Guarda
Oyster by Inbal Pinto
Seven Samurai
Red Rabbit, White Rabbit - Nassim Soleimanpour
John Lennon
Bruno Shultz
The Street of Crocodiles by Complicite
Balanescu Quartet
Josephine Baker
Le Mystère Des Voix Bulgares
Do you have a particular process of making that you could describe - where it begins, how you develop it, and whether there is any collaboration in the process?
It always seems to start with a seed idea.
I let it germinate in my head for about 6 months, it’s amazing how very quickly everything I see and do is seen through the lens of that idea. Then I start tentatively testing out potential ideas through workshops.

I then throw everything at the idea. Then I begin to hone in on the language and theatrical world of the piece. I start detailing and choreographing small scenes whilst attempting as much technical discovery and invention possible. I organise and assemble the best version through simple storyboarding. And once I have an overall shape in mind, I start constructing the show. 

Then… I step away from the show for a month or so and scrap 60% - 75% of the work.

I begin again with a much stronger sense of the potential of the piece. I reassess the seed idea. I try to re-establish the rules of the world. I then assess how I can improve the quality of the journey and the arch of the drama.  I go through the same process again, bring in the technical and choreographic elements together to create another version of the show. I step away from the show for a while and then scrap 20% - 30% of the work. This process repeats, each time the amount of content I change reduces until we have the version you see today… but that process is still ongoing, I am always looking to improve the show.
What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
There are six narrative authors that make a Gecko show work every night;
The choreography
The Lights
The Sound
The Design
The Acting Performances
And most importantly the audiences imagination
I would judge those six to be equally important in terms of the narrative journey of the show and the potential of the show to be a special experience.  Before an audience has seen any version of a Gecko show, I have only a sense of what the show is - it’s only once you add that final author that we all begin to understand what it is we have made.  It is the individual and personal interpretations of the show that are ultimately important - everything else we’re doing is to assist that final version playing out in the hearts and minds of the audience.  

Critically acclaimed physical theatre company Gecko returns to Edinburgh with an intimate, funny and moving exploration of what it means to care.

Welcome to Gecko’s INSTITUTE. Set in a warped world of emotional compartmentalisation and treatment, where memories are filed and relationships scrutinised, patient becomes carer and vice versa. Four people undergo a series of extraordinary physical ‘treatments’ as they struggle to prepare themselves for the outside world.

Stuck in this beguiling maze of officialdom the all male cast of four explore the fragility and the strength of modern masculinity as they lurch from one outrageous task to another.

INSTITUTE is driven by Geckoʼs desire to explore complexities in human nature; our impulse to care and our complete reliance on one another. We are entering a time in which we are potentially more fractured and disconnected than ever before - when the time comes, will anyone really care?

But a Gecko world is never as it first appears...INSTITUTE is a spectacularly inventive and surprising journey. It is a fast-paced visual theatre spectacle which is epic in scale but intimate in emotion.

Gecko has a reputation for generating unique worlds, exquisite stage craft and breath-taking choreography. Founded in 2001 it has become an award winning, internationally acclaimed company. It has taken its five critically acclaimed productions to over 20 countries and has been seen by over 100,000 spectators.

Wednesday 5 – Saturday 29 August, 1.00pm (except 8th at 2.30pm, not 12th or 18th)

Pleasance Grand, Edinburgh Festival Fringe
Running Time: 80mins (no interval)

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