Comedy (comedy, solo show)
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33)
17:45 Aug 5-16, 18-30 1 hour
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?
Damien Slash: I began this project with a series of YouTube videos. These were simple videos of characters talking about their lives or hosting highly formatted review shows. The characters are inspired by observed qualities in myself that I find shocking, repugnant, shameful or hilarious.
My gambling addict character Joe is the embodiment of my own experiences gambling on horses and the madness I saw in myself. My mineral water critic character is the embodiment of my own pretensions about mineral water that I find utterly ridiculous and yet genuinely believe. These strains of my personality, once unchained, give way to complete characters, and the presentation of these characters makes my show.
Why bring your work to Edinburgh?
Edinburgh is where live performance is king. There is something about the setting and the passion of it all that electrifies every day. Everything else in your life is stripped away except for Edinburgh and ‘the show’. The festival offers a kind of sustained ,creative purpose and an emotional voyage that no other human experience can provide.
It’s creative and it’s destructive and it’s absurd, just like life. I want to bring my work here to be held to account for who and what I am, in real time, in the flesh, by people I don’t know. That is scary to me and I believe in doing the thing that scares you the most, whatever that might be.
What can the audience expect to see and feel - or even think - of your production?
Audiences can expect to see me dressed to the hilt portraying my character creations including, Mineral Water Critics, Mythical Shamans, Hardcore Gamers, Garage MCs, Gambling Addicts and Corporate Creatives. Hopefully these characters will make an audience laugh but I also hope they identify with them, love them, hate them and feel sorry for them. I hope the audience sees some of themselves in these characters just as I do, otherwise I’m trouble.
The Dramaturgy Questions
How would you explain the relevance - or otherwise - of dramaturgy within your work?
I perform characters in a highly naturalistic fashion with my aim being to embody my vision of the person from the voice outward. I’d assume this style falls within the Stanislavskian school of naturalism, whereby I disappear where the character emerges. I do try to apply some concentration methods by Stanislavski that I learnt at school to maintain my characters and remove myself.
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?
British and American character comedians and actors make up my main influences. These would be comic actors like Steve Coogan, Jim Carey, Paul Whitehouse etc. I have always been fascinated and exhilarated by seeing people being funny by being someone else.
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?
My process usually involves devising on my own, in front of a rolling camera and talking as a character for up to an hour. The idea for the character usually spawns from seeing myself in a certain way, or from a certain angle. Sometimes a character is someone I fear becoming or being seen as by the world.
Once I’ve got some improvised chat down, I then look through that content for the funny elements and the key stories that make the character whole. I then go back and do this again with the good stuff in mind. Once I have two or three hours of performance, I edit the footage to make a coherent monologue. This monologue becomes the outline of said character. From here, I will usually write a script for anything else I do with them. When it comes to doing this live, I start by asking, where is the character , who is the audience and why are they all here? The more heavily written the character is, the easier this is to answer. I like to keep my show open source so I take feedback from anybody and give it a test drive. This often results in catastrophic errors but it helps to find out what definitely does not work.
What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
My relationship with the audience is strange, in that they are watching me being someone else watching them. It’s our shared belief in these masks I present that ignites the play time between audience and performer. When I break character or corpse or purposefully shatter the mask, it is usually the funniest bit of the show. In that sense, I see the role of the audience as the other child signed up to the same fantasy game, and it’s my job as the guy on stage to set out a play world and it’s logic. Without an audience to live within, with my characters mean very little.