One for My Baby is an exciting original play, backed by live jazz music, telling of the passionately wild marriage of Frank Sinatra and Ava Gardner.
This play doesn't show the glitz and glamour of the man, but portrays the sad and chaotic private life of fame, and that behind those Ol' Blue Eyes lived the real Sinatra. Written and directed by Anthony Orme and starring a cast comprising of Royal Central School of Speech and Drama students, One for My Baby promises to transport audiences back to the 1950s, telling the story of the deeply loving, but ultimately doomed partnership of two of the era’s biggest stars.
The audience meets Joe, the bartender immortalised in Sinatra’s hit One for My Baby, who lends an ear to Frank as he reminisces about his tumultuous relationship with Gardner. Told through his own recollections of the past, the play explores the many and various ups and downs of their love affair, and questions whether anything worth having – be it youth, love, or fame – can last forever?
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
I was sat, chilled, listening to some swing, which I have always been a fan of and One For My Baby – Frank Sinatra, came one. I proceeded to listen to it on repeat about 10 times just listening to the words and thinking about the story it was telling.
Then it got me thinking, what is this all about? It’s so deep and truthful this isn’t just a song its life and after hours of research into the small hours, the show was born.
Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
Edinburgh is the fruit and veg market of theatre. Everything there is good quality but affordable and made by passionate people who work with their hands and sold to people who are looking for that perfect pear.
If you want to go to Tesco (or as I like to think of it, The Palladium) and see the same old food that is vastly overpriced, I would never condemn it, I do myself every now and again. But where the real heart of theatre is, is with the masses in Edinburgh. Passionate, creative, electrifying people who are just striving to make and see good theatre.
What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
What they will feel is humbled. The show is very raw and very real; it doesn’t pull any punches but is also very beautiful. The production lets people in, very close; to the side of two people that most never knew even existed. There are parts when they will feel uncomfortable or bruised, but as with life, you need to be hurt a little to truly experience the highs of life. This is what I have tried to create.
The Dramaturgy Questions
How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
Extremely relevant. If you don’t treat the dramaturgy with respect in this production you lose everything. Both Frank Sinatra & Ava Gardner were products of their time. The world they lived in molded and shaped their outer persona, from which their deep rooted and crushing problems were born.
It speaks a lot of our time with current social media and celebrity status; nothing is secret anymore the world knows every time Zane from One Direction eats Wheetos for breakfast. Where as, Frank and Ava lived in a different time, where the world saw what their producers wanted them too and they were forced to keep parts of what made them human for private eyes only. This kills the soul, that what makes the play so heartbreaking, your watching two souls die.
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?
I think it goes without saying that Frank is a big influence, the life and soul he brings into he later songs really reflect what he never got a chance to say in his youth which is something I want the chance to show.
But also that era of stars is a big influence to me, these are people that live and breath their art, they wake up in the morning humming, or see all of their life in cut shots, that’s why I wanted live jazz music throughout, to show the audience how much something so simple and generic as music can seep into someone and effect their minds.
But if I’m honest, the main ‘tradition’ I have strived to withhold to in the show, is life. I am sick of seeing theatre that doesn’t speak, it shouts, it tells me what I should believe or who is right. No. Theatre is a mirror to life. As my acting teacher once told me ‘Why say 50 words when everything can be summed up with ‘I see’’
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?
Usually I start with research, especially with a piece like this, a lot of writers just right and hope it all makes sense but I don’t see why. This is a real story; it’s real people so why should I make it up? So instead I spent 7 hours researching the whole story, none stop, in fact I still am now finding new things, and then my job is to revive these and fill in the gaps to make a play.
There is definitely some collaboration though, more so with this than any because of the music aspect, I don’t profess to be Mozart, so therefore when I bring musicians in I trust them to tell me, that wont work there, lets try that and low and behold they are always right. But even as actors, people say ‘there are no such things as bad scripts only bad actors’…LIE…there are bad scripts, but not because the story doesn’t work, usually because the lines just don’t fit with the actor playing the part, therefore the actor should have freedom to (within reason) adapt a line so that it can be truthful for them, because if they believe it, we will.
What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
Oh they play a massive role. A lot of this piece is directed to the audience in a very Brechtian style, but this isn’t even the reason. My aim is to make the audience feel isolated and allowed to think for themselves. If there isn’t an audience then the piece dies.
I imagine it like you have accidentally stumbled into someone’s living room, if the audience weren’t there it would just be another day at home for the characters, but with them there, its elevates it and lets it live.
I think of the old proverb, ‘If a tree falls, but no one is there to hear, does it make a sound?’ and transpose ‘If there is no audience, is it theatre?’
Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
I think the one thing I would have asked is, how does every aspect of the world of the play affect the dramaturgy? For example, how does the TV of the time, how does the Music of the time, how does the THEATRE of the time affect the piece. It’s quite easy to forget that characters in a play are real humans who enjoyed listening to jazz or watch a film every Friday night. This is why I have included music to show that every single moment of time can have an effect on your entire life and to ignore it, is to ignore half of life itself.
The action is undercut by live jazz music which plays from the ‘jukebox’ of the bar, which is made up of a group of actor-musicians. The characters of the story are brought to life when these actors step into the action of the play, and they provide the music which creates much of the play’s poignant and nostalgic atmosphere.
Coinciding with Sinatra’s Centenary year, this piece of new writing aims to present a little explored period of the music legend’s life, and gives a stage to the woman who inspired and assisted his rise to fame.
theSpace on the Mile (Space 2),
Radisson Blu, The Royal Mile, EH1 1TH
Previews: 7-8 Aug 2015
Dates: 10-29 Aug 2015 (not 16 or 23)
Time: 19:40 (45 mins)