Tuesday, 30 May 2017

RashDramaturgy: Two Man Show @ Edfringe 2017

A RashDash and Northern Stage co-production in association with Soho Theatre: 

RashDash: Two Man Show 

Two women play two women playing two men - RashDash return with their Fringe First winning show about gender and language 
Devised by RashDash | Music by Becky Wilkie Part of Northern Stage at Summerhall // Tech Cube, 21 – 26 August 2017, 22:15 (23:25), 14+

Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen are women playing women playing men in a show about how patriarchy is bad for everyone, and how being a man can be a dangerous, difficult and confusing business. A female punk/pop band predict a non-binary future in a show that embraces the feminine, masculine and everything in between. It’s about broadening the discussion on gender. It’s about masculinity, what two women think of masculinity but also what men think of women. It’s about feminism and men and feminism and masculinity.
What was the inspiration for this performance? RashDash exists to make radical, feminist theatre. We think about how our sex and our gender interact and how gender affects who and how we are. So far all of our shows have been about women, because feminism is about women, we thought. And it is about women!

Of course it is! It’s about equality and empowerment – but it’s also about men. It’s about men moving over. Which is hard, because when you’ve been in a position of privilege, equality can feel like oppression. But it’s also about how Patriarchy, which is most definitely bad for women, is bad for men too. Because Patriarchy places unhelpful expectations and stereotypes on men and women, but when we can be fully ourselves – masculine, feminine, anywhere in between or outside those categories – we can be happier and freer.
We wanted to make a show that was about making more space for more people to be more themselves. Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? Yes. Which is one of the reasons I find interviews and articles difficult. Writing the essay of the show or talking about the story of the show can’t get close to what the show is.

It is essay, it is story, it is being in a room with other people – watching and feeling them react to the same thing in front of them as you are. It’s wondering whether that thing that performer just said is true or made up or somewhere in between.

It’s seeing that woman’s muscles up close, it’s smelling her sweat – the sweat that tells you that what she’s saying (with her body, with her words), she really, really means. She really thinks and feels these things.
In performance you are captive for a short while. In our show, there isn’t really space to talk back or discuss with us or each other until it’s over – so I can start the show by shouting at you about the origins of patriarchy and I can finish the show half naked in a tutu telling you my biggest secrets and in the middle I can dance the history of fine art and sculpture – and unless you leave – you sit with the ideas/images/words/sounds I’ve put together and you think and you feel and – hopefully – they add up to more of the sum of their parts, and then you can go away and do what you will with it.

Never think about it again, think about it again, come and see it again… But ideally, you finish it all before you process it. And that’s different from dipping in and out or pausing, or being in your living room surrounded by your life, or objecting in the middle, or asking for clarification before I’m ready to give it. It’s not a dialogue until afterwards. It makes you respond differently. And also – it’s 3D. Like life. More dimensions in which to experience it. So it can go in deeper and to more bits of you. Ideas aren’t just for brains, they are for bodies too. How did you become interested in making performance? I am a performer, that’s what makes me feel good (sometimes) and it’s what I’m good at. I am also a very political person. I’ve realised that unless I really care about what the show is saying, what it’s for, I find it very hard to be a good performer. So I make theatre. Because I am a performer who wants to make positive offers. Helen and I met at University and started working together because we wanted to make shows with singing, dancing and acting, but that weren’t musicals. We wanted to work out what that was and in order to do that, had to decide to make a show about something. It was in those weeks in which we thought about how to decide what it was about, that we realised it also had to be for something. It had to explore something that might be good/useful/difficult to think about. Make more space for people.
Is there any particular approach to the making of the show? We are always searching for ‘the right’ process. This one has been very playful. We did 3 weeks of research, 4 weeks of making a first draft and then 3 weeks of rehearsing, all with good chunks of time in between, doing other projects. It’s allowed us time to think and change our minds and find creative ways to express all the essay writing we did in the research phase. Does the show fit with your usual productions? There is no ‘usual’ I think. There’s live music, dance and story. That’s usual. It’s feminist – that’s usual. But I think it’s better than our previous shows. More wild and less conventional and more honest and more nuanced. What do you hope that the audience will experience? I hope the audience will be moved and provoked. I hope they will see some of their own experience of being a human in the show and also have a window into very different ways of being. I hope they are entertained. I expect they will be confused at points, but it becomes clearer if you stick with it.
I hope they will feel a bit like they know us by the end of it. What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience? Making a show that I would want to see. Trying to make beautiful images that delight and make movement that gets your mirror neurons firing. The show is in traverse, so the audience watch each other watch the show – this has a big effect on the experience.
We also try not to think about audience sometimes, so that we can be brave enough to go deeply into the material and to make ourselves as vulnerable as that show makes us, at points. I like it when I feel like I’m watching something I’m not sure if I should be watching. So sometimes we have to imagine no one will watch.

Performers Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen said, “This is an exciting time to be a woman. This could be the beginning of the end of patriarchy. We’re alive and we want to be part of the change. This show is an invitation to men to be part of it too. If you’re not already. It’s an invitation to create a new language that will allow us to think new thoughts. It’s an invitation to create more space for the people we really are. The show is live music, movement and women playing men and it’s a mass of contradictions. Like the world. Expect to be moved and confused and gently provoked.”
RashDash are theatre makers and performers Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen. They make theatre combining movement, music and text. Their work is a combination of radical feminist ideas explored through an articulate physical style in a form that they continue to reinvent. RashDash has won three Fringe First Awards (in 2016, 2010 and 2011), The Tods Murray Awards for Best Book and Innovation in Musical Theatre, and have received nominations for Total Theatre and Off West End Awards. Shows include: The Darkest Corners (Transform Festival, Leeds) Snow White and Rose Red (Cambridge Junction), We Want You to Watch (National Theatre/National Tour), Oh, I Can’t Be Bothered (Finland, Soho Theatre/Tour), The Ugly Sisters (Edinburgh Fringe/National Tour), Scary Gorgeous (Edinburgh Fringe), Another Someone (Edinburgh Fringe/National Tour), and SET FIRE TO EVERYTHING!!! and The FRENZY, both outdoor shows commissioned by Lyric Hammersmith, Watford Imagine, Greenwich Docklands International Festival and Latitude Festival.
Becky Wilkie is a composer and musician and a regular collaborator with RashDash having worked on Another Someone and The Frenzy. Becky has toured internationally with Fear of Men and Bright Light Bright Light and is a regular composer and performer on the Manchester music scene.
Northern Stage in Newcastle has a reputation for breathing new life into classic texts, curating ambitious and sometimes daring contemporary theatre and working with thousands of people every year in a strong participation programme. This is the sixth year that Northern Stage has hosted a programme at the Edinburgh Fringe, presenting some of the most interesting theatre from across the north of England and beyond, in partnership with Royal Exchange Theatre, West Yorkshire Playhouse and Hull Truck Theatre.

Rash Dash: Two Man Show Part of Northern Stage at Summerhall Summerhall Place, Edinburgh EH9 1PL 21 –26 August 2017 (except Wednesdays) | 22:15 (23:25) £12 / £10 concs Tickets: 0131 560 1581|
Company information:
Devised and performed by Abbi Greenland and Helen Goalen Music by Becky Wilkie Designed by Oliver Townsend Lighting Design by Katharine Williams
Supported by Arts Council England and Golsoncott Foundation

Press Contact: Sharon McHendry at SM Publicity on sharon@smpublicity.co.uk or 07970 178643 or @smpublicity OR Helen Fussell PR & Communications on helen.fussell@gmail.com or 07801 369778 or @hellfuss

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