Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Paper Hearted Dramaturgy: Liam O'Rafferty @ Edfringe 2016

Underbelly: Iron Belly
13.30 (14.30) 4-28 Aug (Not 16)

World premiere of uplifting new British musical set in a high street bookshop. Aspiring writer Atticus Smith lives avidly through his novel's characters until the arrival of the spirited Lilly Sprocket. 

With a contemporary pop-folk score performed by a company of actor-musicians, Paper Hearts is about passion and finding you place in the world, among books!  Directed by Daily Mail Award-winner Tania Azevedo


What was the inspiration for this performance?
I love bookshops and the fact that you can lose yourself in them, and its a pretty cool space on different levels to perform.

So I thought, why not set a musical in a bookshop?

How did you go about gathering the team for it?
I contacted theatre director Tania Azevedo who has taken several shows to the fringe. She has a network of contacts, including MD Daniel Jarvis and set designer Anna Driftmier. As a writer, this is my first musical and with no formal training it was difficult to break into the theatre world. Tania has been a fantastic collaborator and the team, now fully formed are passionate about the show and taking it to the fringe

How did you become interested in making performance?
My wife Denise was a member of a local am-dram society and after seeing their performance of Chess I was so impressed that I got the bug.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?
As this is my first musical I can't really answer that question. I would imagine that everyones journey is different

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Some thrilling songs and a great story, and I'm hoping that they will leave singing the musicals finale; Paper Hearts

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
Paper Hearts is set in two worlds, the bookshop and the imaginary world created by the protagonist Atticus.

He is writing a novel set in 1942 Russia. The music from both worlds merge gradually together as we understand the characters
Think Nottinghill meets War and Peace with humour!

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?
There is a nod to some of the classics, such as My Fair Lady (which I love) and Once has also been an influence.

the idea of the performance as a gig: what qualities do you think make this the case? what do they share?
The actors and musicians are playing in many  scenes where a band would be appropriate and not out of place, for instance a Wedding and bar scene. They use body parts, bottles and feet/hands to make percussive expressions and this  makes for an exhilarating performance to watch

what is it about musicals that... they seem to be all over the fringe... and how they differ from a 'non-musical' form in terms of engaging audiences - and performers?
As well as comedians, there’s quite a lot of heavy/serious shows at the Fringe. Its nice to have a bit of light, and that’s where musicals fit in! They aren’t everyone’s cup of tea but we are trying to make our musical assessable to everyone, to be fun, engaging but also to shock. We have a Russian roulette scene that’s not expected.  We are lucky that we have fantastic musicians that are fabulous singers, and they make the show

are there any musicians you'd point to as an influence - or a pleasure that may not influence but gives some sense of your approach to music?
Jason Robert Brown has been a big influence, I love the contemporary feel and closeness in his work. More recently I’ve become a big fan of Lin-Manuel Miranda, the guy is a genius. Its re-thinking the way we look at musicals. Paper Hearts draws from different styles, from Motown through to folk pop and modern classical but each song is tied in with the character. Having different style of music for the sake of it can confuse an audience, or worse, turn it into a duke-box musical!

what is gained by live musicians on stage?
Musicianship, seeing them play. I love a  string section with a band and fusing the music. 
You can feel their passion and it’s good to see them on occasion, ands not in a pit

and is anything lost?

If the musicians are not an integral part of the show then the audience could get distracted. At the fringe, you are tight for space so you need to be inventive.

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