Friday, 11 August 2017

From Today, Dramaturgy Changes: Philip R Holden @ Edfringe 2017

Widower, 60s, seeks younger man for love, laughs and hopefully more – please don't mind that I have a daughter.

From Today. Everything Changes by
Ian Tucker-Bell at theSpace on North Bridge (V36) Aug21-16 4pm daily

From Today Everything Changes is a new play taking a fond look at the experience of coming out in later life.

After thirty years of marriage, Chris faces the rest of his life with a big decision to make.  Should he be true to himself or continue to live a lie?   How will his grown up daughter react to him being gay?  And how will she feel about his new boyfriend?

The play started life three years ago when it was part of the Oast Theatre’s New Writers programme, before being taken to drama festivals in the South East of England.  

What was the inspiration for this performance?
Ian wrote this script to explore the experience of several friends of his that had similar experiences. They were men growing up through the 60s where being gay wasn't even acknowledged and many ended up getting married, having families and feeling trapped.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Yes, absolutely. The great thing about theatre is that no member of the audience knows exactly what s/he is getting. They have an idea and the publicity or word of mouth has made an offer to them of some sort. Once they are in their seat however, they are committed to travelling through the experience. It could be a comedy that makes them cry or an expected light entertainment that challenges their preconceptions.  As the audience is together (and so safe) and separate (so self contained) the audience never has to admit their views have changed as a result. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I grew up in a family that was engrossed in theatre and performance. Ian, by contrast, didn't realise his love of theatre until after he'd left school and taken some wrong turns. i think, for him, coming out as gay and expressing himself through music and theatre went hand-in-hand. For me, it was just an unquestioned part of my life. For Ian I think (though you'd have to ask him) it was about liberation and being able to be true to oneself - very much a theme of this play.

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

An earlier version of this play was produced for a competitive festival. I saw that version and enjoyed it hugely. However when ian asked me about taking it to Edinburgh I knew it had to be stripped back somewhat and the emotional conflict at the heart of the story should be heightened.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Yes and no. We're part of a theatre in Kent called the Oast Theatre. Although everyone is unpaid, it's a little powerhouse of production. We do a play a month and have a very strong youth theatre and a group for children. We have a fairly traditional  audience, but we push them a bit and we're increasingly  doing more experimental work and we have an open invitation for new one act plays to be read and performed.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

That's an interesting question. I don't think we're in the business of telling the audience what to think or feel. Having said that, the story is simple and truthful. It's a love story and, as people have been remarking on social media, love is love is love.  So people will empathise with the characters.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?
The strategy was just to tell the story. Chris, the main character, is essentially taking the audience with him as he recollects the key events that led to now. The audience is right there, face to face with him, so that was our major principle - no separation between him and them.  Beyond that then, the challenge was to bring the recollection to life - the script does this - but the audience is transported, effectively seeing a 'playback' of Chris' recollections.

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