Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Locus Dramaturgy: Atresbandes @ Edfringe 2017

ATRESBANDES theatre company

Locus Amoenus

Three strangers meet on a train. In one hour, the train will crash and they will all die.

Award winning Spanish company ATRESBANDES bring their critically acclaimed piece Locus Amoenus to Summerhall for Edinburgh Fringe 2017, exploring the idea of paradise through the meeting of three strangers on a train that’s about to crash.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The first inspiration was the place where we started to create the show and the title "Locus Amoenus" meaning pleasant place comes from there). It was in a beautiful arts centre in Birmingham, based in the middle of a gorgeous park, with a lake and trees. There was snow everywhere. So, that touched us and inspired us. It was a real artistic “locus amoenus” for us (we had all our time and space to do something) and for sure, that suggested us to think about the idea of "Paradise".
Also, there's a book called "Tunel" by F. Durrenmat that give us the idea of the theatrical game we propose in the show. And also, the film "Europa" by Lars Von Trier.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

It has to be, for sure. After a very good show, not only beauty or enjoyment or even anger appears, also a waterfall of thoughts and emotions.
I think that's because a good performance is the point that is below a question mark symbol, but a question mark at the end on stage. That's what we try to do in our shows. After that, after see a "final" question mark, we hope or we would to like to open others questions in the audience.

How did you become interested in making performance?

In our case, was an organic and natural thing. We met each other at theatre school in Barcelona and we started working to try to make the theatre that we would like to see on stage.
As I said before, theatre helps us, not to answer the daily life, but at least, to do something with all these questions that we have.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

No. Maybe the particular approach is that we don't have one, and in each of our different performances we start in a different way. We're very a chaotic and not methodical company, we don't know what we can do until do it, so we need lot of time to create.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

We work as a devising theatre Company, without a previous text. We start only with an idea. So, each show we made is relative to our "personal and artistic moment". When we premiered this show, we thought it was something very different to the previous one "Solfatara" but now, after a while, I realise that is an organic and very logical step, and even if the form is different, yes, I think it fits. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

That's difficult because I think you can't control that. For "Locus Amoenus" maybe we would like to investigate or taste the concept of time. What happens if the audience has more information than the performers on stage, and how that changes the perception of the action and of time.
And also, in this show, we wanted to "relax" the theatrical conventions. For example, there's no black out, we start on stage as performers waiting for the start and looking to the audience without hiding our nervousness and the excitement we have. We perform with all the technical things like very exposed, without hiding microphones or the cables. The lighting is always the same.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
I think, I answer that before!

LOCUS AMOENUS video promo from ATRESBANDES on Vimeo.

Locus Amoenus takes its title from a Latin term meaning “pleasant place”, characterised in literature and visual arts throughout history as a sunlit glade or meadow. Through a series of conversations and situations, efforts to understand and be understood, the show asks what paradise means to each person and, as the train speeds towards to its fatal conclusion, asks whether we pay enough attention on life’s journey.

Locus Amoenus is performed mostly in English with additional projected text that acts as a narrator and guide to the inner thoughts of the characters. Not knowing that they are about to die, the characters go about their lives, connecting to each other and isolating themselves, understanding and misunderstanding, getting hung up on trivialities and not saying what they most want to say. What new meaning does the hour have if it’s to be their last?

Company member Albert Pérez Hidalgo said, “The inspiration for our work comes from a number of sources, including everyday life and situations, sitting on a fine line between biography and fiction. In Locus Amoenus, the three characters partly represent ourselves and through the course of their final hour, we see their dreams, fears and hidden desires. We drew on a variety of source material including Freidrich Dürrenmatt's novel The Tunnel and films such as Lars von Trier's Europe. Some of the imagery was inspired by our travels around the UK on tour as well as the beautiful parkland at mac in Birmingham where we first began work on the piece.”

15th – 27th August, 2.50pm, Summerhall, Venue 26 

Tickets: 0131 560 1581 | 0131 226 0000

@ATRESBANDES | #locusamoenus | |

Running Time: 60 minutes | Suitable for ages 14+

ATRESBANDES are a company from Barcelona who have rapidly established a reputation as creators of sharp, perceptive work for international audiences. They have won numerous awards including First Prize and Audience Prize at BE Festival 2012 in Birmingham for Solfatara and Best Direction at Skena Up 2014 in Kosovo for Locus Amoenus. The company was formed in 2008 with the aim of creating devised work through a truly collaborative process.

Company and creatives:
Devised and performed by: Mònica Almirall Batet, Miquel Segovia Garrell, Albert Pérez Hidalgo
Voice recordings: Iara Solano Arana, Sammy Metcalfe
Lighting design: Alberto Rodríguez
Sound design: Joan Solé
Producers: Sarah-Jane Watkinson (UK), Nùria Segovia Garrell (Spain)

Fan Dramaturgy: Rik Carranza @ Edfringe 2017

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I’ve been a stand up comedian for the last 8 years and I wanted to try something new. So, with support form the Arts Council England, and some great script editors, I have written a more storytelling comedy show which explores the ideas of acceptance, fandom and touches on mental health issues. It is inspired by events of my own life, my love of Star Trek and my own battles with bullying and depression.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Absolutely. In a performance you are free to find new and interesting ways to explore complex ideas, as well as challenge established ones. It is also an interesting exercise to try to make your work is as accessible as possible.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Since I was a child I’ve always wanted to be a performer, or more accurately, the centre of attention. I’d always make jokes and act out but it wasn’t until about 2009, on the back of a £1 bet, that I started performing stand up comedy properly.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

It was just a lot of writing! Breaking down the show into sections to work on it, lots of practice and filling up a whiteboard with new ideas every day. Oh, and coffee. Lots and lots of coffee.
Does the show fit with your usual productions?

I’m a stand up comedian so this show is a lot more honest and personal than what I would do in a stand up set. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

Lots of laughs mainly! However, I hope to take them on a journey and have them realise at the end that it’s ok to be you.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I did look into having more sound cues, making it more interactive and having props and set. However, after writing and previews, it became apparent that keeping the show as simple as possible made for a more rewarding and immersive experience for the audience

Dramaturgy Cherry: Loose Cannon @ Edfringe 2017

Cherry draws on over three hundred real testimonials from ordinary people that have been collected by Loose Cannon Theatre over the last year and distilled into six voices each exploring a different aspect of this 21st Century taboo. 

After a sell-out run in London earlier this month, our actors have been privileged to gain access to so many individual accounts of virginity and far too many began with phrases such as: “I’ve never told anyone this before”. It’s time to start talking about virginity and that’s what we intend to do.

Using voices from within the LGBTQ+ and disabled communities, from online forums, and from people with radically different cultural and religious backgrounds, the show weaves a myriad of perspectives together using innovative and highly physical staging to explore the rich tapestry of society’s attitudes to this sexual inauguration.

Cherry can be seen at The Space @ Venue 45 on 63 Jeffrey Street, Edinburgh EH1 1DH. It can be seen every night between Wednesday August 9th and Saturday August 26th (times: August 9-13 22.25pm; August 14-19 23.25pm; and August 20-26 22.25pm)

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Cutbacks in state funded sexual education have meant that many young people are finding out about sex for the first time from online porn and Chinese whispers. Cherry aims to address this dearth of discussion by speaking plainly and openly about sex and sexuality on stage. These are deeply personal performances. The theatre group has been privileged to gain access to so many individual accounts of virginity and far too many began with phrases such as: “I’ve never told anyone this before”. It’s time to start talking about virginity and that’s what we intend to do.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?
The Edinburgh Fringe Festival is an epicentre of candidness. People from around the world from a wide variety of backgrounds come together to discuss the ‘un-discussable’ through theatre, and what better place to bring Cherry! Performing verbatim theatre literally brings voices to the unheard, and publicly and unabashedly brings the discussion of taboo subjects such as virginity to the forefront. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

Myself (Anna Wyn, the Producer) and the three other creators of Loose Cannon Theatre, met at The University of Bristol. Two English Students, one Psychology students and one Liberal Arts student. Having performed at The Fringe over many years with other companies, we decided to come together as a collective. We all became fascinating with Verbatim Theatre, and realised that it was the best way to speak plainly through performance about Virginity. 

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

Drawing from over 300 anonymous written submissions and verbatim interviews as well as material from popular media and online forums, ‘Cherry’ explores how "losing your virginity" has become so much more than simply having sex for the first time. In its retelling of real experiences both shocking and hilarious, 'Cherry' takes an honest look at a social construct that needs some serious rethinking. 
Does the show fit with your usual productions?

This is our premier show! We came together last year with one aim in mind, to put on a verbatim show about virginity. To go down to the nitty gritty  We had a sell-out run in London in July, and the feedback was incredible. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope to hear people in the audience honestly talking about their first times, honestly talking about their experiences upon waling out. We hope to hear people feel that their thoughts, grievances, worries  have been voiced on stage. We hope for them to submit their stories at the beginning of our show, and hope that they find a relief in writing their experiences down on paper for them to be heard in our next show. We well and truly want our audience to find solace in the fact that we’re all thinking the same thing, why does nobody talk about it? 

If Dramaturgy: Lynn Pegler @ Edfringe 2017


An exciting new one act play about Jungle Book author Rudyard Kipling will be on stage at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for five performances, 23-25 August.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

I was invited to write a play about an author for a festival of writers in Liverpool. Deciding which writer to choose was difficult but my starting point was the nation’s favourite poem ’If’ by Rudyard Kipling. I then investigated Kipling’s life and discovered he was very well travelled and had suffered all sorts of personal difficulties and regrets. This all made great material for a play.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?

I think performance is an excellent place for presenting ideas and information. Many view Kipling as a two dimensional, unfashionable, out of date writer. I hope my play helps to present a much more complex character and show how he was an immensely gifted product of his time and background. It’s good to start a debate.

How did you become interested in making performance?

I enjoy writing and performing so it’s great to combine the two.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

I wanted it to be lively, with plenty of movement. America, Britain, India and Japan are represented on stage and Kipling moves around the world with a suitcase – always travelling and searching.

I also wanted to feature his most popular poems and stories, plus some surprises, woven into the dialogue.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Every production is different.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We hope to delight, entertain and provide an exciting insight into a great man’s extraordinary life.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Audiences have talked of laughing and crying during the preview shows which is exactly what we were hoping for. The show contains humour and intense sadness.

‘If Only: An Audience with Rudyard Kipling’, by Lynn Pegler, explores his extraordinary life and devastating personal consequences of World War One. The Nobel Literature Prize winner is famous for writing the nation’s favourite poem ‘If’ – which will feature along with other popular poems and stories woven into the one hour stage show.

Lynn said: “We are particularly thrilled to bring this production to the Arthur Conan Doyle Centre as the two authors were apparently good friends. Kipling invited Conan Doyle to stay with him in America when he was living in Vermont. It appears that Conan Doyle taught him to play golf in the snow – by painting the golf balls red!

“I was inspired to write the show for a festival of authors in Liverpool. The more I delved into Kipling’s fascinating itinerant life, the more it became apparent that he suffered a series of major regrets – hence the title.

“I am delighted to say the previews have gone down a storm and we are very much looking forward to premiering the show in this beautiful Victorian building which has so many associations for both great writers.”

‘If Only: An Audience with Rudyard Kipling’, performed in costume by Matt Jones and Lynn Pegler, will be on stage at 12 noon daily from Wednesday 23 to Sunday 27 August, at the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre, 25 Palmerston Place, EH12 5AP. Venue 290, near Haymarket.

Tickets are priced £8 (£7) and are available from the Fringe Box Office tel 0131 226 0000.

Monday, 14 August 2017

Previously Published in The Skinny: The Wau Wau Sisters

The last time I saw a burlesque routine dealing with religion, it featured a simpering girl dressed up as a nun, unable to inhabit the power of the character and pandering to a cheering audience. If the Wau Wau Sisters don't offer a complete critique of Christianity in , their burlesque acrobatics scatter bullets at teenage chastity and its inherent pornographic fantasy, New Age paganism and the idea of burlesque itself.

In just under an hour, the Sisters terrify the audience, swing on a trapeze, sing country songs while balancing on each other, dress two audience members as satyrs, end up fully naked - as they point out, no commodification of the body in this show - and make the link between rough hewn live art and cabaret.

The Wau Waus refuse to bow to any sort of theatrical courtesy. Their aesthetic is immediate, ragged and vigorous. They are utterly fearles, whether engaging directly with the audience or tackling taboos. Unlike most burlesque, their talk of gender is no insipid fig-leaf for self-aggrandisement. Even better, they have a talent that doesn't just involve undressing and smiling at the audience.

Despite the mayhem and apparent aggression, The Last Supper is a funny, feel good show. The serious message, about embracing change and fearlessness, is expressed not through rhetoric but the ferocious pace. This might be a long way from the vaudeville tradition, and anyone hoping for cheap thrills will be disappointed when complacency receives a sharp slap.

Lady Dramaturgy: Carol Cates @ Edfringe 2017

The Venerable Dramaturgy: Artocrite @ Edfringe 2017

Inspired by The Venerable Bede’s Dark Age description comparing human life to the flight of a sparrow on a wintry night. Artocrite Theatre invite you to follow their brief overview of desire, yearning and the daily grind, as they encounter work, sex, love, death, and clothes.

In that short time, three birds try to make sense of the world around them. Two decide to become a woman and a man. They begin to learn to follow the lifestyle expected of them, although they do not find it easy. The third bird chooses to follow its own light rather than limit its identity to one gender or the other.

The Venerable Bird’s Eye View 

“If you like weirdness, you would found us beautiful”
The ‘man’ and the ‘woman’ meet and fall in love, but soon get into difficulties as they try to perform their roles and suppress unacceptable parts of their identity.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The inspiration from the Venerable Bede's poem,

“The present life of man upon earth, O King, seems to me in comparison with that time which is unknown to us like the swift flight of a sparrow through the mead-hall where you sit at supper in winter, with your Ealdormen and thanes, while the fire blazes in the midst and the hall is warmed, but the wintry storms of rain or snow are raging abroad. The sparrow, flying in at one door and immediately out at another, whilst he is within, is safe from the wintry tempest, but after a short space of fair weather, he immediately vanishes out of your sight, passing from winter to winter again. So this life of man appears for a little while, but of what is to follow or what went before we know nothing at all.”
We based on that poem to create what we think about human existence and gender identity.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Yes, we are using movement, physical theatre to discuss above issues. We gave a open-end for audience to think. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I think theatre is a place for making dialogue with society and community. If I have a belief or statement which I want to share, theatre is good platform to communicate with others in an interesting and creative ways.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

We use dance, movement to discuss such issues but without any words. It makes things fun, comedic and interesting.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Well.....actually, we usually do the show in text-based style in chinese....but that show is tailor made for fringe... no language but only impressive movement. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

I hope they will think about how the social norms to shaped or limited our gender identity and think more about gender stereotype in our society.  

Then one day they meet the third bird, who has transformed into a crazy old grey-bearded man with long flowing hair and an even longer white dress. He pushes a pram, plays the ukulele and sings to the birds. He also behaves in a bizarre way that shocks the couple. However, this chance encounter causes them to examine what is missing in their lives. They try to find solutions, but career towards violent conflict.
We then see the crazy old man’s past, how he came to be who he is and how he assumed his unique identity through a mixture of personal tragedy and profound love.
The ‘man’ and the ‘woman’ lose control of themselves, desperately trying to find themselves buried under all the veils of civilization, until the crazy old bird takes them back into the night. 

C primo (studio) venue 41 19 Hill Street, Edinburgh EH2 3JP
2-15 Aug at 22:10 (1hr00)
Tickets £9.50-£11.50 / concessions £7.50-£9.50

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Dramaturgy Triptych:Emily Dickinson @ Edfringe 2017

Born under the train tracks in New York City, The Emily Triptych is an original solo performance piece dedicated to the mind and art of Emily Dickinson. This summer, we bring America’s greatest poet and most famous recluse to the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Our project meets her at three points in her day. In Part 1 (Morning), we meet a younger Emily, embroiled in the eternal conflict between the artist and her Creator. Part 2 (Noon) explores the literal blossoming of her inner life after many years of solitude. Part 3 (Night) transports us to present day New York, where the actress playing Emily treads the boundary between living and dead. 

What was the inspiration for this performance?

The inspiration for our piece was a coffee-table book called The Gorgeous Nothings, put together by a textual scholar and a visual artist, which displays photographs of Emily Dickinson's envelope writings alongside transcripts of them. This marriage of physical object and language struck me as very theatrical. Especially as the objects concerned, often cut-out sections of used envelopes, are both fragile and surprisingly tenacious. They are objects in flight, whose flight has now been stopped. I think that performance often shares these qualities - fragile, yet tenacious. A flight of thought that must, according to the nature of performance, be fixed.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 

Yes. In my home town of New York, I have just spent a month ushering a controversial production of Julius Caesar in Central Park, where Caesar was a Trump lookalike. The media went crazy. And I have never had a stronger feeling of being in the right place at the right time as I did in that theatre, in the centre of New York, in the centre of... some conception of the world. I do not, however, seek to 'discuss ideas' in my own work. I think performance should be allowed to breathe. Whatever audiences take from it should be personal rather than political.

How did you become interested in making performance?

Performance is the form of storytelling that involves as many means of expression as can be crammed into it. It makes the most of human bodies and voices and souls. And also non-human things, like light and physical space and textures and colours. I could not now imagine trying to say anything without all of those elements to work with!

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?

Yes. The show was developed as a result of intense collaboration between Miranda McCauley, the performer, and me. We developed it over the course of about six months, rehearsing once or twice a week, at the beginning, and more often towards the end. Our first rehearsal took place during a snowstorm in January, and... here we are now in sunny Edinburgh. The show indeed has always been responsive to conditions in the world outside. We perform in a room with windows using natural light, so the character of the piece changed from winter to summer, as birds started appearing outside our windows, and the light changed from leaden to golden.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

It does fit in the sense that Slava (my co-artistic director) and I both take the literary basis for our work very seriously. So no matter whether we are working with Shakespeare or Daniil Kharms, or in this case Emily Dickinson, getting as intimate with the author as possible is our first goal. And then, I have been fortunate enough to work with Miranda on two productions now. Such that her virtuosity and physical creativity are becoming 'usual' for us. For which I couldn't be more grateful.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

If they hold their collective breath for only a moment, we will be happy. One of our audience members in New York said that he felt as if his soul had been looked into. That, I would say, is the ideal experience.

Though a full cycle of the Triptych lasts an entire day, audience members are free to attend as many or as few segments as they wish, in any order.
Dickinson (1830-1886) spent most of her adult life in extreme isolation. Yet this isolation gave birth to over a thousand poems, many of them the best our language has to offer. 

From the bedroom, kitchen, corridors of her Amherst house, she loved, and philosophised, and questioned God with a voice that is both familiar and alienating. Domestic and cosmic. Feminine, rebellious, and strange.
Over the six months of its development, this piece has become a translation into dramatic form of something drama often overlooks: the stillness and silence from which great thoughts proceed, and with them, great words. 

It is an opening up of deep introspection – its language, its patterns, its idiosyncratic beauty – to the external eye. It is an effort to create an atmosphere in which Emily’s thought, and her poems, can live.
Performed by Miranda McCauley, directed by Charlotte Day, adapted from the poetry and prose of Emily Dickinson.

The Emily Triptych
Quaker Meeting House/Venue 40
August 12th & 19th – 13:30, 16:00, 20:00

August 15th-16th, 18th – 13:30, 17:00