Wednesday, 13 July 2016

The Rules of Dramaturgy: @ Edfringe 2016

Balloons Theatre presents
The Rules of Inflation
August 15th-20th
23:20 (50 mins)
theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall (Venue 53)

Born from the idea of creating a political piece of art by exploring the most basic rules and questioning the pathological patterns of our society, The Rules of Inflation is an immersive piece of performance art theatre that aims to make even the most comfortable uncomfortable. 

Find the connection between a
right wing political leader, your teacher, a bully and a hybrid drag queen clown. For there is plenty.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

Our original impetus for making The Rules of Inflation came from finding a popped balloon on the street. From there we worked as a collective using Robert Lepage's scoring system. Lepage believes that every singe object can push you to create a story. By exploring the many possible stories and themes behind balloons, we ended up creating an immersive political theatre piece that is essentially taking place during a children's party, although it is a children's party gone wrong. There is the clown who is in charge of everything and four colours Yellow, Pink, Green and Blue who are all entertained and controlled by him.

How did you go about gathering the team for it?

We all went to the same drama school in which we were lucky enough to have had a chance to gain theatre making skills during the devising module. From then on we all agreed that we wanted to keep devising and creating work that is a bit “off beat” and this is how Balloons Theatre was born!

How did you become interested in making performance?

The times when actors simply waited for their agents to call them and get them an audition are long gone, we believe creating your own work is what really matters these days. As a collective we also agree that we live in the midst of a very interesting political time and we recognise the fact that we ought to create work that reflects on the society we live in.

Was your process typical of the way that you make a performance?

This depends a lot on what kind of performance you are making. Our rehearsal method is shaped by us not only as a collective but also as individuals. We are all very different both as people and as creators and we like to celebrate these differences in the rehearsal room. Yet the type of work we are making requires a certain atmosphere in the room. The Rules of Inflation consists of many children's games, we never actually just decided which games we are going to play in the performance, we simply spent hours playing in the rehearsal room and then organically created a performance. We play, we rest, we push ourselves and we play, this is probably the best way of summarising our process.

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

We want our audiences to be constantly challenged by what they are seeing. At the beginning of the piece they are invited to a children's party and perhaps this is what they are expecting, but we as performers want them to be puzzled by the weirdness and certain spookiness with the ambience of the piece. There is a lot of uncomfortable moments in The Rules of Inflation which relate to sexuality, abuse and politics, it was really interesting to see the audiences become awkward and uncomfortable in those moments, especially since we live in a very over-sexualised society, but once you put that sexuality into the context of a children's party, well things get a lot more complicated.

What we are mostly after from our audiences is engagement, we want them to feel free to react to the things they are seeing and we love the fact that we created a piece that is quite open to interpretation and raises plenty of questions.

To put it in one sentence, we hope we created a piece that is not easy to forget.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Working without a director was quite tricky for us, hence half way through our rehearsal process we asked a dramaturg to come and watch our work, an eye opening experience which allowed us to understand what it is that an audience want from an immersive experience.

Looking at the nature of The Rules of Inflation we always knew that we had to draw the line somewhere simply because we wanted our audiences to have a choice of saying “yes” or “no” to our offers. If someone wants us to give them a piece of cake (we have a cake!!!) then they are more than welcome, but we won't make them feel bad if they refuse it!

Making political theatre is all about relevance, the literal political references in our piece change constantly for the purpose of making our piece up to date and fresh.

There came a point in our rehearsal process when we realised we had to stop making the piece so dark and to make it enjoyable for the audience we have to use more of the lightness and playfulness that happens within a party.

Do you see your work within any particular tradition?

The Rules of Inflation is a piece that is on the verge of being called performance art rather than theatre, but we wouldn't necessarily limit ourselves by calling ourselves “performance artists”. We take inspiration from a lot of theatre practitioners that come from different genres and backgrounds. We work a lot with Lepage's scoring system, but like Shunt, for example, we like to create immersive theatre. 

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