Tuesday, 23 January 2018

Macbeth Dramaturgy: Mark Bruce @ Wilton's Music Hall

Winner of the 2014 South Bank Sky Arts Award for Best Dance Production (Dracula)

A striking dance/theatre re-imagining of Shakespeare’s tragic tale of power, corruption, murder
UK tour: January 25th-May 12th
including 3 weeks at Wilton’s Music Hall

The multi-award-winning MARK BRUCE COMPANY will tour their haunting new dance/theatre re-imagining of Shakespeare’s Macbeth’ in 2018. 

With direction and choreography by visionary artistic
director Mark Bruce, a cast of nine outstanding performers and dramatic design by the same creative team behind Dracula and The Odyssey, Mark Bruce Company’s Macbeth’ will realise a beautifully harrowing vision of an internal wasteland formed from the pursuit of power through ruthless means. 
Drama, dance and film audiences will be drawn to Bruce's imaginative vision of the treacherous Macbeths' (Jonathan Goddard, Eleanor Duval left, photo by Nicole Guarino) toxic world of jealousy, ambition and corruption. Set in a supernatural and brutal underworld, both tragic and beautiful, with a horror film atmosphere of menace and murder ... all of this will be packed into Bruce's new production.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
Everything in the play - how it confronts us with the demons inherent in our nature. Its tragic beauty, symbolism, the supernatural ‘in-between’ world it evokes and sets its story in.

How did you become interested in making performance?
It just happened, I don’t remember a catalyst or a moment, it just bled out of creativity and ways of communication

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
I use an amalgamation of approaches - possibly hybrid - I started a company so I could build work with no rules or dividing lines between mediums and approaches.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
Every show is a progression and a tangent.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
It should creep inside them and shift things around.

MACBETH’ tour dates:
January 25th-27th           Frome, Merlin Theatre         www.merlintheatre.co.uk
Jan 31st-Feb 1st                     Winchester, Theatre Royal     www.theatreroyalwinchester.co.uk
February 8th, 9th            Birmingham, DanceXchange        www.dancexchange.org.uk
February 23rd to March 17th      London, Wilton’s Music Hall    www.wiltons.org.uk
March 23rd 24th             Ipswich, Dance East            www.danceeast.co.uk
April 17th, 18th                      Blackpool, The Grand         www.blackpoolgrand.co.uk
May 1st, 2nd                   Exeter, Northcott Theatre        www.exeternorthcott.co.uk
May 10th-12th                Salisbury Playhouse            www.salisburyplayhouse.com
May 17th 18th                Milton Keynes, Stantonbury Theatre www.stantonburytheatre.co.uk
Publicity:                      judy.lipsey@premiercomms.com

Performers:  Eleanor Duval, Jonathan Goddard, Jordi Calpe-Serrats, Christopher Thomas, Daisy West, Dominic Rocca, Hannah McGlashon, Steven Berkeley-White, Carina Howard.

Choreographer/director:           Mark Bruce
Set design:    
Philip Eddolls
Lighting design:                         Guy Hoare
Costume design:                
Dorothée Brodrück

Artistic Director Mark Bruce: 
Macbeth hits you fast, cuts through to the bone, and for me it is the least ambiguous of Shakespeare's plays. Its darkness opens our nightmares; we recognise fundamental traits inside ourselves and the consequences of acting upon them. The vicious pursuit of power to fill a void will always be relevant - the Macbeths are everywhere in every age, because they are a part of us.

“I first read Macbeth as a teenager and returning to it now the images, atmosphere it evokes have not changed. Its power lies in a relentless tale of supernatural horror told with a beauty and symbolism that reaches to the tragic state of the ‘other’.   The supernatural is always present in Macbeth, bending our own thoughts and perceptions as well as those of the protagonists. It infects us, always one step ahead, and Macbeth’s decisions are made in the world of a nightmare as if there is no separation between thought and action. Murder is done and descent is rapid.

“The Macbeths are mere playthings of the evil they set free, and in the madness and emptiness that ensues they become but walking shadows, or, as in my adaptation, simply clowns of sound and fury.”

Mark Bruce Company has built up a formidable reputation for uncompromising dance-theatre work.  Early MBC productions include Moonlight Drive (1991), Lovesick (1995), Helen, Angel (1996), Horse (1998), Dive (1999) and At Louse Point (1997) with Polly Jean Harvey and John Parish. Mark Bruce has made work for other companies including Fever to Tell (2005) and The Sky or a Bird (2008) for Probe, Stars for Dance South West, Green Apples for the ROH’s Clore Studio Summer Collection, Bad History for the Place Prize 2006, Crimes of Passion (2010) and Medea (2011) for Bern Ballet.  MBC’s more recent productions include Sea of Bones (2007), Love and War (2010) which opened at the Bristol Tobacco Factory, Made In Heaven (2012), the award-winning Dracula (2013, 2014), and The Odyssey (2016). 

In 2014 Dracula scooped four major awards:

South Bank Sky Arts Award for Best Dance Production
        Critics’ Circle Award Dance Section for Best Independent Company
        Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dancer (Modern) – Jonathan Goddard for ‘Dracula’
        Dancing Times Award for Best Male Dance – Jonathan Goddard for Mark Bruce Company

Mark co-devised Skellig (2008), an opera based on the book by David Almond, for the Sage Gateshead; the Royal Exchange Theatre’s productions of The Bacchae, Antigone, The Glass Menagerie, The Revenger’s Tragedy, Antony & Cleopatra, Peer Gynt, As You Like It, Fast Food, Still Time and The Way of the World. He directed Rick Bland’s award-winning Thick which toured the UK, US and Canada and in 2015 worked with Singapore Repertory Theatre on their production of The Tempest.  Mark has also worked in a variety of new media, screen and interactive stage productions with Ruth Gibson & Bruno Martelli of Igloo. He has written music for his own work and for art installations and is published by Mute Song. His book of short stories, Blackout Zones was released in May 2010. Mark is currently completing his book on Choreography and Making Dance Theatre.

Strangers on a Train: a study in genre

There's plenty of academic study that defines the genres of theatre: sometimes it concentrates on the historical context, using the times as an explanation for the script, or a production as evidence of contemporary social values; sometimes it is concerned with the aesthetics, the way that a work of art has a self-contained cohesion and logic. In the case of melodrama, the historical perspective sees the genre as a result of the upheavals of the nineteenth century, inspired by the growth of technology but also terrified by the collapse of values that appear to have lasted for hundreds of years. The aesthetic, or formal approach assesses it in terms of the stock characters, the wild plots and the powerful moments of reversal - heroines tied to the railway tracks, exploding firework factories. 

The problem with genre studies is that it often reduces a play to a single, simple format: the popular plays of the nineteenth century are explained away as mere manifestations of the melodramatic spirit, whether that's a nautical drama trying to put a positive spin on the mutinies in the English fleet or the working out of a cosmic battle between good and evil symbolised by a nasty landlord twirling his mustache and a blonde, handsome hero who loves his virtuous lover with his huge pure heart. Nobody really respects genre fiction - it tends to have fandoms, people who love the trappings of the art, who are connoisseurs of its detail, but it's not serious, is it?

These days, genre is out of fashion - not for academics, who roam across time and space looking for arguments - but for artists, who aren't bound to any set of rules when they create. Back in the seventeenth century - in France at least, which is where European theatre was at its most happening - playwrights had to follow the tragic rules of Aristotle. The rise of melodrama in Paris around 1800 was probably a reaction to this censorship of structure. But then somebody invented post-modernism and rather than being a set of laws, genre became a thing to play about with. 

This brings me to Strangers on a Train. Once a novel by Patricia Highsmith, then a film by Alfred Hitchcock, it's been adapted into a play. Influenced by Edward Hopper's painting, and with a huge set that sets each scene in its own panel, it follows the adventures of two men who, having met at random, agree to murder each other's enemies. Unfortunately, one of the guys, Charlie, takes it a bit too seriously, offs the other one's wife and pestered him to return the compliment.

So a dad gets splattered over the wall, the two men are caught in a struggle of wills and are pursued by a detective (who, disappointingly, works out their conspiracy but just gives up when he could bring them to justice). Given the late 1940s' setting, there's plenty of chat about the importance of architecture - the hero Guy has an ambition to build a big white bridge - sexual repression (it's pretty clear that Charlie both fancies Guy and hasn't managed to come out even to himself) and of course the resolution for all of these criminal antics is the love of a good woman.

It is so easy to pin this one on the historical period: this is the USA as it starts to get paranoia, and its repressions destroy lives. A rather dubious way of interpreting Strangers is to say it's an essay in how homosexuality is dangerous, what with Charlie getting obsessive about a love that dare not speak its name and following Guy about in a creepy way, even turning up at his wedding and throwing up everywhere (he's got a drink problem, too). This is dubious because it does give the play a homophobic edge, and reduces it to a moral homily, when it is a bit more complex than that.

The plot might read a bit like a straight-forward melodrama, only it doesn't have the stock characters: Charlie's not far off being a pure villain, only the obvious conflict he goes through stops him being a caricature; Guy might be a good chap, but he's not innocent enough and way too divided to work as the shining champion of morality. The pair of them are like tragic protagonists - it would only take a slight twist and Charlie would be a great tragic hero, his fatal flaw leading to his inevitable downfall (but let's not get into how the gay characters are always dead by the end of the film). The only really melodramatic stock character is Guy's (second) wife, who is less developed than the two main men, and stands for love - unconditional love, she doesn't mind that Guy shot someone in the head - marriage and fertility (she gets pregnant as soon as they are married). 

Because the big issue of the plot are invested in the two men, Anne doesn't get enough time on stage to be a rounded personality, so she ends up a symbol. Yes, that's typical, isn't it? The men get to have adventures and be full of angst, she gets to giggle, be threatened by Charlie and hold out her hand at the end of the show to forgive and 'build a bridge' (Guy is literally going to build one with a span 'like an angel's wing'). 

The plot and the female heroine seem to point to melodrama, but there's little of the over-acting, the emotionalism or the moments of wild excitement that mark out the classic shape of the form. There is one bit where Ann points to a room in a gesture that looks so stilted, so deliberate, that is almost funny against the naturalistic acting from Christopher Harper and Jack Ashton (Charlie and Guy), but mostly the performances are understated and elegant. And Harper and Ashton are ace: Harper keeps a tight lease on Charlie's outbursts, but the sudden camp temper-tantrums are hilarious and terrifying by turn, and Ashton expresses his character's moral constipation through a suggestive grumpiness. Ashton is always wrestling with guilt, and seems to want to be a tragic victim. He almost longs to be caught... but not quite enough to actually confess to the police.

The genre, then, becomes a hybrid of tragic and melodramatic trope: but who wins? In the end, it's melodrama, because the shallow, simplistic character can offer forgiveness to the tormented protagonist. When she holds out her hand to Guy (Charlie has just shot himself, so that's handy), it's a bridge that reflects the bridge he's going to build, and a bridge back to safety and virtue. And it's the very sketchiness of her character that makes her able to offer forgiveness: any complexity would render her merely human, rather than a symbol.

It gets better. Tragedy, expressed in Guy's despair and guilt, is rejected for melodramatic redemption. It's as if Ann is inviting Guy to leave behind tragedy, which is revealed as immature and self-indulgent. She's also offering a heterosexual alternative to Charlie's repression and hatred, but I'm trying to ignore the latent homophobia in that.

Using genre as an aesthetic approach rather than historical allows this kind of reading, a reading that escapes the limitations of cultural context and gives Strangers a more abstract relevance. It presents a timeless morality play, explaining evil but, fortunately, proving that it can be beaten. 

Yet Strangers in production is far from a typical melodrama. There's no hysterics (apart from a few scenes with Charlie and his mother), there's no action sequence (and the melodrama of the early twentieth century went mad for set-pieces, usually involving some amazing scenography, like steam powered hammers or, my favourite, a race between a train, two cars and a bicycle). There's a bit of a cliff-hanger at the end of the first half (Guy's going up the stairs to shoot the dad). But it's far from a parade of stereotypes, and, at times, is a sensitive, if heavily Freudian, study of personality. It doesn't look like a melodrama, but it becomes a morality tale that affirms the value of living in a melodrama. 

Dramaturgical Egg: Paper Doll Militia @ Manipulate 2018



Highlighting themes of choice, chance, science and mortality, an autobiographical tale about a young woman who gave her eggs. With live music and aerial choreography on plastics, Egg explores the physical distortion and discomfort of the effects of hormones on the body, and the complexity created through the use of science to make a family.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
Sarah Bebe Holmes: This is an autobiographical piece which took 10 years to get from living in my brain to the page and eventually to stage. It is about egg donation and use of modern fertility methods such as IVF and most specifically about my experience in giving my eggs to a friend to have a child. It hits on themes of 'genetic validity' 'parenting as a form ownership' and 'modern family structures;

How do you feel your work fits within the remit of the manipulate festival?
This is a highly visual piece of aerial theatre, using clear plastics throughout the set and as aerial apparatus, projected animation, live music with odd instrumentation, physical theatre and acrobatic movement. Manipulate is all about theatre and film which pushes at complex visuals. I'm happy to yet again me involved in this incredible festival. 

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Absolutely without question. Performance is a form which NEEDS to tap into social, ethical, moral, political and other relevant issues. Being in a room together in REAL life is so important. Live performance, unlike online entertainment, brings people together in one space. The point is to start new thinking and start new dialogue, and to make people FEEL things. And so good to feel things together within close proximity of other humans, sat in seat next to each other, actually PRESENT with the art. 

How did you become interested in making performance?
Existential crises. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?'
Paper Doll Militia creates both verbal and non-verbal shows, however, it is been 6 years since we have created a scripted, verbal show. But I would say this piece is the most specifically issue-based piece we have made.  

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
I hope that some aspect of this show hits every audience member. There are different elements and issues presented and though this is quite a specific story, there are broader themes that I am hoping will evoke an emotional response in the audiences.

Freckled Dramaturgy: Ali Anderson-Dyer @ Dumfries

World Premier Drama and New Poetry Explore the Limits of Love
Bunbury Banter and Dumfries Theatre Royal are gearing up for Freckle, the third groundbreaking Play, Poet & Pastry event.

A Perthshire playwright and Dumfries poet are joining forces for a groundbreaking performing arts initiative at Scotland’s oldest working theatre.

Giles Conisbee, from Pitlochry, and police officer turned poet JoAnne McKay have been selected for the third of four Play, Poet and Pastry (PPP) evenings that offer world premier drama, brand new poetry and a live post-performance discussion.
Taking place for one night only at the Theatre Royal, on Friday 26 January, the event will centre on Giles’ newly written play called Freckle which explores the limits of love.
A Play, A Poet and A Pastry has been devised by Dumfries and Galloway-based Bunbury Banter Theatre Company to bring high quality theatre and poetry to audiences in south-west Scotland.
It’s also designed to generate a genuine sense of spontaneity throughout. The poet’s task is to respond to the play – and have a strictly limited time in which to work.
The two-person cast faces an even stricter challenge, having just a fortnight and two rehearsals before going on stage.
Freckle introduces the audience to Stevie and Aoife, a couple whose lives are engulfed by a horror from their past.
Married, mortgaged, model parents – they were just like the rest of their suburban neighbourhood. They are now back together after an enforced separation and trying to put their lives back together in a world awash with guilt, pain and regret; recriminations as much a part of the household as taking the bins out and making the school run.
As the gulf between them widens, reaching out to each other and bridging the chasm seems harder than simply slipping into the abyss.
The performances will be followed by a discussion involving the cast, playwright and poet in the theatre’s studio over pastries.
Bunbury Banter are specialists in new and experimental theatre and have recently produced Blackout to much acclaim, worked with the National Theatre of Scotland on the Five-Minute Festival, and a web-based audio production called Mortar which starred Timothy West, Prunella Scales and Nichola McAuliffe.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

It’s a play in development called ‘Freckle’ which follows the story of a couple’s struggle to live with the ramifications of a past mistake made my one of them, and how they both attempt to prevent this destroying their future. Freckle questions whether there is a limit to love and if there should be. Although not his own, our playwright tells me the script is inspired by a true story. 
The concept of our performance comes from the question of how we might visualise the psychological response to trauma from an emotive point of view and if we can find a way of commenting on this, allowing our audience to be immersed in the world, whilst keeping them safe. 

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

Absolutely. I believe that live performance can touch us perhaps more than any other medium, as it’s living, breathing and unfolding right in front of you. You experience the story with all of your senses, and being within the action (often literally) encourages a response which is first immediate and then allows us time for this to develop, and perhaps even change, whilst discussing with others.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I always wanted to act, ever since I was little but after drama school I discovered, alongside a healthy dose of stage fright, that my passion actually lay in the collaborative creation and subsequent staging, of stories and worlds, rather than just being in them. When working as an actor, whilst many of the productions I was in utilised this, I quickly realised that those which didn’t left me unfulfilled and frustrated… leading to one friend of mine (who was also a director whom I’d worked with many times) asking me whether I had considered directing theatre. 

As these things go, for some reason in that moment and at that precise time in my life, I heard his suggestion and it truly resonated with me. It resulted in my embarking on an MA and immediately (after 24 years of acting, this was within days!) realising where my love of theatre really came from and that it was the creation of what I was imagining - the experience an audience might have and the pictures I could see on the stage - which really excited me. Since then I have been making theatre of all kinds. Although I might venture onto the stage again for the right project, becoming a director has allowed me to use all my talent, experience and even my oddities, for something which I love so much more.

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

As a director I am like a magpie; picking and choosing different elements and processes depending on the project we are working on; a site specific piece’s needs are different from a classical piece of theatre, for example. However, all my work comes from the understanding that we are storytellers and that each story/play we create lives for only a brief second and then can never be recreated the same again; similar but not completely the same. This means we always spend time working together to generate an ensemble within the company, researching and learning about themes and/or subjects relevant to the play and then, move onto analysing the script, exploring the structure of the play and sharing our own responses and relevant experience. This brings us all onto the same page, ensuring we are telling the same story, with the same shared knowledge -  together. All this happens before or alongside the ‘usual’ areas of rehearsal such as blocking and working through sections of the play.

There are other things which we might also explore, these could include improvisation and physicality and movement, music and voice work, stage combat and circus skills (to name a few!) but of course, all these are completely production dependent. 

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

In a way it does, since every show I make comes through the same structural process and all our work is focused on encouraging the audience to think and question themselves in some way. Plus, it has the same detailed aesthetic, strong use of audio and rigorous approach to creating character and worlds authentic to the creatives involved.

It is of course different in its being a semi-staged reading and having come from a script which works within this platform (the evening teams a play with poetry and is rounded off by pastry eating!) rather than the company’s wider artistic aims or ambitions. That is not to say we might not have looked to work on something similar, it’s just the structure of the event demands very different things from our usual creation/production process. 

All that said, and with reflection, I tend to think that we are continually evolving as people and creatives - and the company is no different. I hope that none of our future projects will be classed as ‘usual’ and that we always find ways of developing the direction we are taking. Plus, as a company our aim is always to present high quality work for our audiences and because they (like the world around us) are forever changing, the need and type of work, in my opinion, should reflect this and remain fluid and flexible to the climate around us.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

It is a moving play suggesting that everything in our lives can change in an instant; how one decision or mistake often has a ripple effect which reaches far beyond that moment or the people immediately involved. I hope it encourages the audience to reflect on this as an idea and perhaps pause before making future decisions in their own lives, such as those featured in the play.

The story also encourages all of us to ask what we might do or how we might react personally in such a situation; reminding us that no one is untouchable by trauma and maybe even challenging us to imagine the worst. Perhaps by doing so, it also gives us the freedom to reinvestigate the blessings we have in our own lives, offering us the chance to value the important bits just that little bit more.

Philip Anderson-Dyer, Producer and co-founder of Bunbury Banter, said: “Live art is always challenging, but we have designed PPP to push this much further in order to get the freshest possible performances – and it’s proving a great success.
“The first two events went down a storm with the audiences and Freckle will hopefully build on this as it involves another exciting playwright, and a highly accomplished poet, and focuses on compelling emotional themes.”

Nightmares in Dramaturgy: Danse Macabre @ The Red Lion



29TH JAN. 7.30PM £8/£6

What was the inspiration for the performance?

The inspiration for the performance came initially from us, the collective, constantly seeing the words ‘based on a true story’ on various films, plays and books and wondering just how accurate a statement this was. For when an audience member goes to see a show, watch a film, or read a book, they puts a large amount of innate trust in it, often taking what the author has presented to them at face value. 

Thus, if they are told the show is based on a true story, it is quite unlikely they will question it. Even in more abstract shows, when an actor takes a chair and tells you it’s a frog, the audience may be perplexed but is still quite likely to go along with this concept. 

Therefore, this trust and the possibilities it created made us wonder just how this could be then turned on its head and used to terrify an audience (our parents would be so proud). For example, if you tell an audience member that there is nothing to fear, they are unlikely to bother to turn around and check for the monster, that is definitely not sat there. 

Thus, our show ‘Nightmares in Progress’ takes this trust as its premise and presents two tales of horror which dissect and examine the gap between an audience’s perception and their reality when watching entertainment (in other words, be wary of sitting in the front row). 

For example, our first tale ‘Every Breath You Take’ examines the warped perception of a writer trying to finish their difficult second novel and allows an audience member to question what exactly is real and what isn’t. 

Our second tale ‘The Sandman’, also examines these themes by following the story of an insomniac looking to cure their ailment at a sensory deprivation tank. However, this second tale goes one step further by dissecting how an audience member perceives a show by performing it in the form of an extra-sensory theatrical experience where the audience can touch, taste and smell what the character does, or at least think they do.

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

Yes, very much so. Good theatre should always engage and provoke, creating questions and responses in the audience member’s head that they had previously not paid attention to; whether that be as simple as ‘should I be nicer to strangers on public transport? (Answer: Yes) or more complicated matters like ‘if I get into a position of governmental power should I not be corrupt and give all my friends handouts? (Answer: Take a guess.) 

As well as that, good theatre can use the power of metaphor to make something complicated understandable and accessible to aid discussion. Lucy Prebble’s Enron for example, is a brilliant example of turning hard to grasp financial terms into beautiful visual metaphors of velociraptors and blind mice. Our performances, aim to fulfil both aspects but through the medium of horror, as whilst our shows are there primarily to frighten and entertain, we also want to dissect just why certain aspects of life scare us more than others.

How did you become interested in making performance?

As a collective, we all became interested in performance at different levels, some of us fell in love when we went to see shows in the West End as a child, others from writing and performing their own shows and one particular member from meeting and fanboying over the Chuckle Brothers. 

From there, we all came together at the University of York whilst studying theatre, having discovered that we all had the same dark sense of humour (which we have since christened ‘bloody tongue-in cheek. Copyright pending.)  From there, we started writing and devising shows together and the rest as they say is geography…wait no, that’s not quite right…

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

Firstly, cup of tea. Can’t be doing a show without a cup of tea. Then…biscuits. Can’t be doing a show without biscuits, and finally…oh have we run out of bourbons again? Right, trip to the shop. What do you mean you’ve run out of bourbons? You can’t run out of bourbons? How is that even possible? No, I’m not raising my voice. You’re raising your voice. 

Look, you don’t understand, we are making art here! And we are not doing it without…look I don’t think calling security is really necessary unless they know where the bourbons are. Fine, I’m leaving, but when I write my next show, I’m going to write in a creepy bloodsucking cashier called Kevin and then who’ll be sorry then. Hmmm? And thus, inspiration is born…

In all honesty, it usually entails a long back and forth of looking at what scares us as people, snowballing ideas of how to put this across on stage in a unique way and from there devising characters, structure and a plot. Before moving into rehearsals, R&D (which one of us, mentioning no names…Joe, used to believe was when we took a break from the show to play Dungeons and Dragons), and finally a fully finished performance which the public will hopefully like. If not, we have already invested in a safe house, which is secure from pitchfork wielding mobs.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

Yes, as we are a theatre collective who regularly dips into the blood-soaked world of horror, this show isn’t a far step from our usual work. Previous shows have included a night of ghost stories told entirely by torchlight and a promenade version of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow told in the woods.  At the same time, our shows normally have a more humorous slant to them, and whilst there are jokes in this one (including a cracking one about a corpse and tangerine), it’s more about fear and dread than punchlines. 

Overall, though probably don’t bring your kids to it (unless you want a very odd drive home).
What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Apart from being entertained, thrilled and eager to go see more horror theatre, we hope that the audience will be provoked into examining just how and why they fear certain things. For us, horror is a fantastic way of confronting your fears and in turn, gaining catharsis from the fact that the scariest thing in the world is your imagination (oh and wasps. They’ll come for us all one day.) Thus, hopefully you leave our shows with a sense of being less afraid of the wide world when you come out of it (once you’ve checked under the bed for a final time that is…).

Dramaturgy in a Clinch: Clara Bloomfield @ Manipulate 2018

CLINCH/Clara Bloomfield
Sarah, a fifteen year old girl, lives with her grandfather in a touch ex-mining town in Fife. She suffers with bad anxiety. Joining the local boxing club is an act that is laced with significant challenges and tensions for them both.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Collision creates performance for young adult audiences. Through our work we aim to encourage a greater dialogue surrounding what it is to be a young adult in todays society.

Anxiety amongst young adults is at a record high due to pressures from the pace of life, expectation, education, work, body image and social media to name but a few. 

Clinch’ was a seed of an idea that was in reaction to this and coupled with my own personal interest in the role sport, particularly boxing, plays in small communities and villages. I serendipitously met with a young female boxer who shared her relationship with the sport and the lack of equal opportunities and at times how she felt she was a joke. I knew this was a subject area that would be relevant to so many people.

How do you feel your work fits within the remit of the manipulate festival?

Collision was selected as one of four companies for Testroom, a creative development opportunity for Scottish-based artists. Puppet Animation Scotland, supported by the National Theatre of Scotland based in Rockvilla, Glasgow, and facilitated by leading puppeteer Gavin Glover, Testroom offers artists of any discipline the opportunity to explore initial creative ideas which aim to place, at their heart, elements of live puppet or object manipulation.  ‘Clinch’ is a result of this development opportunity.

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

I would argue it still is.  Theatre should be a place for social
commentary, a space to explore another’s views on the world, that can be in agreement or opposing to your own.  A space that can be immediate and responsive in it’s discussion of current world events.  That said, is theatre achieving this? Is theatre a space that is accessible to the wider public…I don’t think so…this is an area that needs to be addressed.

How did you become interested in making performance?

From a young age I had the great fortune of working with strong inspiring female directors and performance makers; Annie Wood (a former Artistic Director Polka Theatre) and Nancy Reilly (The Wooster Group)who set me on a path to create experiences that blurred the line between life and art, reality and fiction. Environments where people could confidently explore their position in the world and reflect it back through performance.

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

There are three main components to our scratch performance of ‘Clinch’; storytelling, puppetry and sound.  Each element is integral in the development and advancement of our ‘story’. 
Each element had to feel like it was part of the same world, sharing a similar tone and intention.  With each of these three aspects being so interconnected, if changes to one occurred, the same refocus had to apply to the others to ensure a consistent flow and aesthetic.

This at points was time consuming when revisiting music timings, script rewrites, edits and re-rehearsals but as the director this results in a satisfying culmination of artistic processes, producing an accomplished collaborative presentation.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
In one sense no. Testroom provided Collision a development opportunity to experiment with puppetry in 'Clinch’ which is a new mode of performance for us.  

In this context as a writer / director the platform provided me the space to interrogate my approach to storytelling and to explore my relationship with text and visual performance.

In the other sense yes – as a company Collision is interested in creating sociopolitical performance surrounding what it is to be a young adult in todays society.  We feel ‘Clinch’ contributes to this broader discussion through a topical subject matter.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

The seeds of what we hope to develop into a full production.  We hope to gain feedback from the audience that can support the next stage in our development progress.  From this short sharing we hope for the audience to feel a connection with Sarah and want them  to champion her to overcome the challenges she is battling.