Monkey Poet returns to Edfringe.
7th year in a row, new Artistic Director of Spoken Word at PBH FreeFringe and nominated to the fringe board.
why the blanket press release? dont you know you should email them out individually?
fuck that, not written my show yet...no time, timmy, no time.
what's the show?
there are 2. one called Greyhound-Journey thru' the dark heart of America, and another called space-age simian. both on daily (exc tues) at the banshee labyrinth, niddry st at 12.50 & 4.45pm, 8-30th august
a verbatim drama about getting on a greyhound bus, and being threatened with shooting, beheading, et cetera. it's a new form of theatre i've discovered, verbatim crossed with bullshit. i call it verbull theatre. it also ties into the black lives matter campaign.
seriously, its the most serious piece of theatre i've done. it's pretty fucking intense. whether audiences'll go for it - i dont know. but that's what edinburgh's for, hey! with it being verbatim, i havent written a script, just bullet points and i tell the story, improvising the style.
dunno, i found it disingenuous to write it down...so didnt. this happened in february this year when i was touring america. i improv'd it in front of the audience at bedford fringe on saturday. thats why my press release is late, i didnt know if it wuld work or not. if you'd not heard from me, you can guess it wuldnt have worked.
space age simian?
not written it yet. to be fair. i think its about the future, but it might not be. ask me after weds. i only finished greyhound last friday. performed it saturday at the bedford fringe. i have a preview on weds in manchester so am just gonna make it up. it worked for greyhound.
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Matt Panesh: I've been working on a project for a couple of years now, and ive just not got it right yet. I made the decision to shelve it again for this year in February, which left a big show sized hole in my fringe plans. Luckily, three days later I got on a Greyhound bus from Indianapolis to Columbus, got threatened with being shot, being beheaded and it unfurled before me. I was thinking if I survive I have my show.
How does this show fit with your usual productions?
Well, it's me and the audience like the rest. Very Lo-Fi. It follows Murder Mystery's pattern of me telling a story and then slipping into the other characters that inhabit the world.
LOVEhurtsACTUALLY and 300 to 1 were both plays in that there were multiple roles from the start. I love this style of solo theatre. Building a world with few props and no scenery. For me it's theatre at its purest and most basic.
What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
I hope they're moved. And moved enough. Its a lot more intense and less comical than I usually do, though there are some laughs. It ties into #blacklivesmatter in America. Or do they, is the question.
The Dramaturgy Questions
How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
It's been massively important in my previous theatre shows (Welcome to Afghanistan, Murder Mystery, LOVEhurtsACTUALLY & 300 to 1) and working with someone who you trust is fantastic. I've been lucky to work with Julia Nelson, Andy McQuade and Gareth Armstrong. It's been an education.
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?
Berkoff's Tell Tale Heart is what I would want to make, and I try, tho I bring a DIY punkish edge to it, because I'm nowhere near as good! Style wise the political satirical aspects of Brecht with the hard humour of Orton and Fo inspired and continue to inspire me, I see myself there.
Obviously not next to them, but down the road, in the pub. I take inspiration from everything. Comics, Bill Hicks, Richard Pryor was an astonishing performer, as was Robin Williams. The storyteller goes back to Homer, I bet The Iliad rocked.
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?
This show has been different as there's been no collaboration at all. It's just me and the audience. The routine for every show though has been book Edinburgh, procrastinate for 6 months, realise its July, start writing, tour until May after Edinburgh, start again.
The ideas come from anything, at Edinburgh i got mistaken for Gerard Butler, so I did 300 to 1, but with the anniversary of WWI, I wanted to have Wilfred Owen in there, so crossed them. It was developed in the rehearsal room, as were both LOVEhurtsACTUALLY & Murder Mystery and I owe a massive debt to the people I worked with. Their input was invaluable.
Welcome to Afghanistan was written and performed before a director came on board, so was tidied up really as I made some fairly basic errors. Julia Nelson gave me good building blocks. Everything else has been added by Andy, Gareth and stage time.
Each show has improved as I have improved as a performer and a writer through experience.
During Murder Mystery Andy went through the script with a butchers knife, asking and getting rewrites as we got the show together over 5 days culminating in a performance. LOVEhurtsACTUALLY was mainly all there, but Andy helped give it real shape over a 6 day period. To be fair both he and Gareth probably deserve writing credits. 300 to 1 was arrived at in the studio. writing a few pages, rehearsing them, deciding what happened next and writing them up for the day after. That was 9 days. This one has been without either director or dramaturg and I'm using what I've learnt and instinct.
The artistic reason is that as a happened-to-me story, I was telling people about the experience and I decided I wanted it to have that mate-down-the-pub feel, hence the loose nature of the script and the improv element. In 2008 as a one off I performed at second city in Toronto and so wanted to do it again, if not exactly making it up every night but having a freedom. So I wrote the story as bullet points and tried improv'ing it once to feel it out. Then did another pass. Then performed it at Bedford.
What do you feel the role of the critic is ?
To give an opinion is the short answer.
It depends on who the critic is writing for. If they're writing for potential audience, then a decent pull quote would be nice. If they're writing for industry, in the case of Edinburgh, forget the surroundings and see if it works as a piece of theatre or what have you. The critic must be truthful and they must also have knowledge of the genre. Opinionated pieces are fine. But they have to have an awareness.
By being a critic they're already stating that they are an authority. Two examples from Edinburgh; A critic reviewed my theatre show when they'd seen my stand up poetry show. As a rule of thumb the critic should know which show they're in. The other was a review of Afghanistan that was a top rating, and then listed improvements, including getting a director. The most constructive piece of criticism I've ever read and it really was useful and helped me. I now work with the reviewer on projects.
Are there any questions that you feel I have missed out that would help me to understand how dramaturgy works for you?
Erm, last thoughts. It's about form for me. The scripts outside eye. Which is why I like to develop things in rehearsal. Especially in solo work as the reason for the piece is there. But the telling hasn't been decided. It's like direction for the script.
you won an award?
3 weeks editors award last year, loved it. have won 7 awards now. good for a wank when feeling low.
artistic director pbh?
programmer really. no cash but shit tons of kudos. when i started spoken word with pbh, 2010, we had 10 ish shows. there was 86 this year. its like juggling cats that have been set on fire.
this year I have directed sophia walker's shows, cant care wont care & cult friction (bbc slam champion and a shit ton of other world slam awards) and antwerp by nick awde starring caroline cooke. its been a blast. its nice directing shows i'm proud of!!!!!
Ive also had a hand in james mckay's moomin show and dominic berry's (dommy b for fans of rhyme rocket) downfall of a noob.
you're not in the fringe programme?
300 quid? fuck 'em, i'm a poet.