Tuesday, 4 August 2015

Acts of Dramaturgy: James Wren at Edfringe 2015

Acts of Redemption
6th - 30th Aug 2015, 3.20pm

An uptown girl waits in a pub for a man who's shirt she's ruined; a man teaches his son to stand up to bullies; a woman can't let go of her ailing father; a man finds the courage to admit who he really is; a drunk man bares his soul in the street, and a woman wins the lottery. 

Unrestricted View present a series of funny, bittersweet and deeply moving monologues about loss, self-discovery, loneliness and not being able to get in to your house. Written by New York Times editor Ken Jaworowski. Directed by James Wren.

The Fringe

What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
James Wren: This production was definitely script inspired. I first became aware of Ken's monologue Never Smile, Never Wave a few years back. It was only last year when I contacted him for permission to use the piece in a week of American shorts that I was producing at The Hen & Chickens that I became aware that Never Smile was one of 10 monologues he had. When I read them, I knew we had a show.

Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
Edinburgh is the biggest and best arts festival in the world. You are surrounded by inspirational actors, writers and directors and you have access to an enthusiastic, knowledgeable and discerning audience. If you are serious about a show, you should take it to Edinburgh.  

What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
What they will see is simplicity itself. I wanted the monologues to speak for themselves so we only have 4 pieces of furniture. We want the audience to invest in the characters and their worlds. They will see beautiful writing and wonderful acting and be taken through these character's worlds. So I hope they take away the feeling that they have been on a journey and been witness to intimate moments in these characters lives.

The Dramaturgy Questions

How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
Using Acts of Redemption as an example, it is very relevant. The characters are telling stories about a seminal moments in their lives, whilst reliving them at the same time. This never happens in real life. They are not talking directly to an audience (in their world), so it has to played so that the audience is both a confidant and voyeur.

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 remember being quite influenced by Peter Brook's The Empty Space: “I can take any empty space and call it a bare stage. A man walks across this empty space whist someone else is watching him, and this is all that is needed for an act of theatre to be engaged". I've always loved the simplicity of that idea.

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?
Whether I'm acting, directing, writing or producing, I am very much a collaborator. Everyone brings something interesting to the table and this can only make for better work. When I'm directing, it is all about coaxing the character out of the actor. It's an intimate relationship and the actor has to have complete trust for it to work. But when the character arrives, it's theirs.

What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work? 
The audience pictures the world the characters live in, much in the same way someone does when reading a book. This was one of the reasons for choosing not to have a 'set' as such, we see parts of ourselves in each of these characters and I wanted the audience to picture the world as they want to see it.

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