Straight from an award-winning tour of Australia, inimitable theatremaker Stuart Bowden presents the première of his new solo work: Wilting In Reverse at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
EDINBURGH FESTIVAL FRINGE:
Time: 20:10 (21:10) Dates: 6th - 30th August (not 17th or 24th) Venue: Underbelly Cowgate Prices: £6-£11
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Stuart Bowden: Wilting In Reverse is the fifth in a series of portraits. This is a succession of solo storytelling shows that look at themes of loneliness, loss, existence and connection. This show specifically started with the title, blurb and image; which is often the case when making shows in a festival circuit context. The next thing to come along was the idea of using the theatrical moment to bring someone back to life.
So I started writing a script to be performed after I die. That's what the show is now. It is a fictional story of the rest of my life and the script that I left behind at the end when I die in (2084).
Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
I don't often get the opportunity to do a long season with such a diverse audience, so it's the perfect way to really run a show in. It is a great place to experiment and get feedback from a very wide range of artists and punters.
What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
Like most of my previous solo shows, there is a lot of humour in this show, but underneath that there is a tragic story that creeps in occasionally. It is playful and I hope inclusive. I hope that audiences leave feeling like they have been in a room where something has been created with them rather than just in front of them.
The Dramaturgy Questions
How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
Because my shows are always evolving and being re-worked I often consider the audience a dramaturg. My shows always place the audience in the action.
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 recently went to see An Oak Tree by Tim Crouch, I had seen this show in Melbourne around 8 years ago but saw it again in London this year. I'm inspired by the way that show includes and invites the audience to, very actively, invest their imaginations in the creation of the piece. I'm interested in asking the audience to suspend disbelief in a very upfront way, in the same way that children do when they play.
An Oak Tree is quite an emotionally heavy piece, I am interested in inviting and including the audience in the creation in a lighter more playful way. Wilting in Reverse is a storytelling show but there are some elements of clown - it's not a clown show but some of the playfulness is inspired by clowning.
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?
I make the majority of my work in solitude, in little studios where I write and talk to myself a lot. I think this process often makes me really crave being with other people, it makes me really want to share it, but it also informs the themes of my shows. I do often talk to people throughout the process, bouncing ideas around, but I usually don't show much of it until the piece is fairly established, which is pretty nerve-racking because by the time it gets in front of an audience often it's too late to go back!
That said I did completely re-write last years show, Before Us about a week before Edinburgh. I am also always changing my shows, they are never a fixed thing.
What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
I see the audience as both a flock and a collaborator and my job is to guide and listen. There is no forth wall in this show.
Bowden has previously won hearts with his off-beat, touchingly beautiful productions She Was Probably Not A Robot, The Beast, The World Holds Everyone Apart (Apart From Us) and his acclaimed collaborations Dr Brown and His Singing Tiger and The Lounge Room Confabulators.
He has received a host of awards around the world including the Underbelly Award and has received nominations for Best Theatre Show at Adelaide Fringe, Best Independent Theatre Writing and Best Independent Theatre Performer at the Melbourne Green Room Awards. Bowden’s most recent show Before Us was the five star hit of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe and has since played to sold out audiences in London, Oslo, Perth, Adelaide and Melbourne.