Friday, 22 July 2016

Red Rose Dramaturgy: Gabby So @ Edfringe 2016

Greenside @ Royal Terrace
Aug 5-13, 15-20

There were two actresses in Strindberg's play: one I called his white rose, the other his red rose. One was a spotless wife, the other a shameless mistress. Who's the stronger anyway – a housewife desperate to keep her husband home, or a free spirit destined to shut herself out of the marriage institution? The answer lies within the 1940s Shanghai.

Hong Kong’s beloved actress-writer-producer, Gabby So, makes her debut this year at the Edinburgh Fringe with her one-woman show Red Rose/White Rose. With its story and characters inspired by one of China’s most influential modern writers, Eileen Chang, the play will examine the complexities of female roles in the face of love, power and social status in a modernising China.

Set against the backdrop of 1940's Shanghai, So plays Chang as she probes the greatest moral dilemma, with the complexities of an emotional life, through her heroines Red Rose and White Rose  - both fashioned in China’s most iconic dress the ‘qipao. The audience will find themselves immersed in a contemporary portrayal of Chang’s dilemmatic life as wife and mistress and, as the plot develops, will recognise the familiar characters of Mrs. X and Miss Y from August Strindberg’s 1889 play, The Stronger.

What was the inspiration for this performance? 
A man proposed to me and I did not have the answer. So I decided to get into the characters of both wife and mistress, find out which role I enjoy more on stage, and then take corresponding actions in life.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?  
I talked to my artist friends about my plan of going Ed Fringe, for those I could spark joy in their eyes I invited them on board. And then naturally they formed a team.

How did you become interested in making performance? 
I literally grew up with Julie Andrew's "The Sound of Music" having watched it for over 300 times. In the film there was a scene in which the seven kids of the family performed a puppet show for their father. That inspired me to entertain my parents and family friends with self-devised showcases since the age of five with my younger sister.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance? 
No. For every show I try something new, something I am a bit afraid of - the last one was a musical and this one is a monologue inspired by Chinese Opera's minimal aesthetics. So I have not found a way to make a performance yet and probably will not ever.

What do you hope that the audience will experience? 
The struggles of being a spotless wife in face of a shameless mistress. Many interpretations of Strindberg's script aim at answering the question of who the stronger woman is, but I am more intrigued by their own Achilles' ankles.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience? 
Intertextuality with Eileen Chang's novella "Red Rose, White Rose". When you think of a mistress as a red rose and a wife a white one, you will see the beauty and the beast of them both. 

Do you see your work within any particular tradition? 
Contemporary Chinese one-woman drama - but with my personal twists.   

A former script developer for Will Smith and now Philip Dolier’s protégé, So’s true passion and calling lies in theatre, where she feels the richest introspective representations of human experience come to life. Her previous performances have earned her public acclaim in her homeland, with two sell-out shows - Breakfast at Tiffanyand The Ritz-Diamond - both sponsored by the Hong Kong Arts Centre and the Hong Kong Arts Development Council. Her work has also been highly received by titles such as The Standard, Time Out and the South China Morning Post.

No comments :

Post a Comment