Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Stealth Dramaturgy: Paul Wady @ Edfringe 2017

Stealth Aspies

5 autistic people tell it like it is. 

A cast show entirely of people diagnosed on the autistic spectrum.

Bar 50, venue 151, 1pm between 11-19th


Paul Wady of the original Guerilla Aspies solo show (3-10 then 20-27th @1pm this fringe) has brought together a cast of five fellow autistics.  Last year I put out a survey on Twitter (@StealthAspies) to find out about when people received an autism diagnosis 
later in life, or were forced to remain in the neurodiverse closet.

The resulting 22 responses (so far) will be performed together with poems and autobiographical pieces written by the cast. 

Nothing like this has been performed anywhere ever that we know of.  This is not pity porn, nor the sad tales of people who want to be neurotypical. It will be entirely devised by the cast.

These are the life experiences of a kind and a tribe that has empathy for its own members. 

(Different people depending on different days)

Alain English
Sarah Saeed
Hannah Yahya
Jason Why
Paul Wady
Janine Booth (and son).

100% ASPIE.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
I wanted to innovate a way of converting audiences en mass to my nature, which is autistic.  
I had been using Powerpoint to train professionals in what it was like to be an autistic adult, and decided to adapt it as a show narrative vehicle.  it's worked out very well although it usually crashes half way through - which I have a whole routine around.  

I did not have anyone to base my work on because no one has done anything like this before.  My friend Cian Binchy had the same problem when he created his show about being autistic at the same time.  We seem to be unique.  I would prefer if there were a lot of such shows.  

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Yes, since my show is audience interactive all through.  It's a great medium providing you have lots of time and not a confining slot.  I have to watch my piece as I love to talk to people and if I find any other autistics in the audience, I try to do it with them.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I joined the Everyman Youth Theatre back in 1982.  I went on to a 3 month tour with a theatre group in 1983 and an entire year in a YTS scheme for theatre, the Rathbone Community Theatre Unit, Liverpool.  

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
Attempting to be myself in front of and with an audience, when I am only diagnosed these past 13 years.  I am still discovering my true nature int he face of a lifetime of hiding and masking.  It's quite a unique experience to share it.  The narrative is something I am still developing each time I do it.  

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
Well since I go around training professionals in autism with another PowerPoint presentation, yes.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?

What it is to be an autistic adult.  To be part of a tribe and a kind of humanity that is forever stigmatised as diseased, disabled and inferior.

For us, they never stopped calling gays perverts...  It's the same for us.  


Guerilla Aspies  -  book out now on Ebay, Amazon & Kindle

NOW INTERNATIONAL BOOK SALES ON EBAY.

http://www.paulwady.com/the-guerilla-aspies-show/ The Guerilla Aspies show picture blog.


Tradition and German Modern Drama


Tuesday, 17 October 2017

All Hail the New Historicists!


Aphra Behn: thoughts on gender and criticism




Old Dramaturgy: Jess Thorpe @ Platform

Do you remember when we used to go camping? And when you helped me make an ATM out of cardboard for my school project? Do you remember when you bought a big plane from town and showed me how to build it? Do you realise what a big impact you have had on who I am?

OLD BOY is a brand new show about the unique bond between grandfathers and grandsons.
It features the real relationships of men and boys of various ages from Glasgow in an attempt to explore the love that is shared between men in families and the legacy passed down through generations in Scotland.




Platform, The Bridge, 1000 Westerhouse Road, Glasgow, G34 9JW
   

What was the inspiration for this performance?

OLD BOY is piece of theatre exploring male relationships across generations and ideas of legacy and connection in Scottish men.
It’s an idea we’ve had for ages. Right back since after we first made Hand Me Down in 2010 and worked with a family of women from Port Glasgow around similar themes. This show allowed us a deep process of engagement with women about the love they had for each other and the things they felt were passed down through their family ties. 

It was all about the things they felt they they learned from their mothers, their grandmothers and the hopes they had for their daughters. It was about the things that they meant to each other.

For the time we worked on Hand Me Down (and still today) we were moved and inspired by these women and what working with them made us think and questions about love and connection in families.

And so we wanted to make another piece. This time about men. About the bonds that are shared and the complexity of love and legacy in male family relationships. We wanted to share this and see this and celebrate this and understand this.

I have a 3 year old son and the process of watching him and my dad build a relationship has been fascinating for me. It has led me to question the things that need to be taken forward and the things that are better left behind. Of the nature of what it means to be a man. To be in in a family. To love other people. To keep making sense of complicated things.

So now we are finally making OLD BOY. It’s piece we first scratched with Luminate and Platform in Easterhouse in 2015 and are now working on the full production of which will be presented as part of the Luminate Festival in October 2017.

The piece is made up of a sequence of three duets performed by:
A 2 year old boy and his grandfather
A 11 year old boy and his grandfather
A 21 year old man and his grandfather

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

For me as a maker and as someone who goes to see theatre I believe Performance is still a crucial platform with which we reflect on the world in which we live. It's a form which asks us to be in a room which each other and actively think and feel about the thoughts and ideas of others. 

I think it is more than just a public discussion of ideas but a way of sharing something of what it means to be human. To make a connection that helps to remind us that in lots of ways - we are in it together. 

How did you become interested in making performance?

I have been interested in  making performance for as long as I can remember. Since I was 6 and I started first casting my 4 year old brother in plays I had written for my Mum and her friends to watch. I like to think I have gotten a little better at some parts of the creative process since then but my reason for making is still the same. I love people and telling stories. I love sharing these stories with others and having conversations as a result. That's it really.

In 2000 I went to the RCS (then RSAMD) to study Contemporary Theatre Practice and I joined a community in Glasgow that made sense to me and felt exciting and progressive. It was there met my collaborator Tashi Gore and we formed Glas(s) Performance. Everything since then has been a practice made out of our shared love of people and stories.

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

We always work within a devising process where we collaborate with the performers involved to explore the personal stories and moments that will help us unlock the universal themes of the work.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

So much of the work we make as Glas(s) Performance is about love and about what we mean to each other as human beings. This means that we often have to tread the careful path of not simply creating a chocolate box image of how things are. We have to try find ways to explore the complexity and the challenge of relationships – to examine the context that led to things being the way they are – to try and touch on the joy and the pain of things in equal but careful measure in our larger attempt to look at what is most human in all of us.

OLD BOY is no different. 

What do you hope that the audience will experience?

A sense of connection to those men and boys on stage and an appreciation of their stories and the ideas and experiences they are sharing. 

To recognise something of their own lives and the relationships and social histories that have/do impact them.

To reflect on the nature of male familial love and legacy and the larger ideas of masculinity and what is passed down between generations of men from the west of Scotland.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?


We thought about who goes to the theatre and who doesn't and why. We tried to make connections with new people and have a new set of conversations we hadn't had before. 

We have been quite active in making relationships with older communities in Easterhouse and providing access points for people from across the community to be able to come and see the show. That feels important to us.

Manifesto Four: Political Theatre


Haunted Dramaturgy: Andrew Campbell @ Ayr


It’s the end of the world. The dead roam the streets. The last survivors barricade themselves in Ayr Town Hall.

What follows is a terrifying spiral into the worst parts of humanity. Who will survive and what will be left of them?

Ravenous brings audiences face to face with one of Scotland’s most notorious villains in a blood-soaked and visceral new-take on the traditional Haunted House. The audience will be led through an interactive horror experience that promises to startle, disturb and disgust.



On Saturday and Tuesday evening we are offering an extended run where you will be lead to a second venue for a horrifying take on the traditional Escape Room.

NOTE: Over 16s only - discretion is advised.


Venue: Ayr Town Hall Prison Cells


Friday 27th October: 17:00 - 22:00
Saturday 28th October: 11:00 - 22:00
Sunday 29th October: 13:00 - 21:00
Tuesday 31st October: 17:00 - 22:00
Wednesday 1st November: 17:00 - 21:00
(shows start on the hour, every hour)

What was the inspiration for this performance?

For the past five years we have been running Haunted House attractions in Ayr using the same historic building: an abandoned underground prison beneath Ayr Town Hall. Each year we try to change the style and the format. Rather then relying on simple jump-scares we will look to cinematic or literary traditions to try to create something that uses familiar imagery and then twist them to create something that is unsettling and not just startling.  

This year with the death of both George A Romero and Tobe Hooper we tried to synergise their styles to create something that references both but is also unique in of itself; so merging the political satire of Romero with camp-grotesquery of Hooper. 

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

Absolutely. It can lead to face-t0-face interactions that the artist could not have predicted; outside of the performance space itself the ideas are carried by the audience and into the public sphere. A dear friend of mine recently told me that after seeing Betty Grumble she discussed the performance with a taxi driver on the way home which lead to both openly discussing concepts of eco-sexuality and burlesque. An interaction that would not have happened were it not for the show.  



How did you become interested in making performance?

As a child I had a speech impediment which made it difficult for me to communicate and affected how I perceived my own self-worth. While speech-therapy helped a great deal, it was when my parents signed me up to drama-classes that my life really changed. 

It encouraged me to not only control my breath, better my enunciation and so on but it also taught me that I had a voice worth hearing. That my ideas and overactive imagination where perhaps not the barriers I thought they were. It sounds hyperbolic and sentimentalised to say but performance literally gave me a voice. 

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

My focus with our Haunted Houses is to create a world. The show runs over a minimum of four days with a show every hour on the hour. So for me it is important that the cast not just jump out of cupboards and shout "boo" but understand what their creature is, how its anatomy works, how it fits into the world of the narrative.  

We spend a lot of time asking questions about the logic of our horror. If the performers believe in what they are doing then so will the audience. We need to break down that thought in their head that says "I know this is an actor in a mask". We block the basics of movements and allocate "safe words" which are used to inform the performer that it is now safe to leap out, scream in someone's face or pour that bucket of blood. 

But it is the performers that are interacting with the audience (and usually in extremely close proximity) so it is important for them to understand their role beyond the actions. They are not a jump-scare; they are a fully fledged creature/character.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

I would say so. I wear my influences and obsessions on my sleeves. As productions are not my sole means of making a living I have the privilege of being particular about what productions I wish to be involved in. Rather predictably my preoccupations are all the things that my religious upbringing deemed taboo. 

Horror movies, sex, drugs, the sinful. Like most of my work the Haunted House pushes interactivity as a means of bypassing our apathy towards these subjects. We have gotten use to cinematic portrayals of violence and horror. But being locked in a room, in the dark, while it happens in front of you, it makes it real again. Brings back that element of danger. 



What do you hope that the audience will experience?

The obvious answer would be fear but for me there is a nostalgic quality to it all. For a least a few brief moments I want people to forget that they are no monsters in the closet and to revel in that speculative space between the real and the not-real.  There is also a comfort in the sense that the horror is contained within a space or a character. There is something nice in the feeling of stepping into the real world and feeling relief rather then weariness. But I guess I am revealing to much about myself there. 

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

Something that comes up a lot is creating a sense of immediacy. We are  asking an audience to suspend their disbelief  so we try not to create any barriers. Set the show now, don't get too referential or meta. Keep the pace up. For every logic-bending narrative jump create something that is so shocking, confrontational or disturbing that they can't help but get involved on an emotional level. 

We also want a break-neck pace. Don't allow the audience to become comfortable in their surroundings. And if they must keep still, plunge them into darkness. Decorate the walls with so many grotesque nick-nacks that they become confused rather then settled. 

But above all else safety. It is an illusion of being unsafe but we never allow ourselves to go too far. Everyone is armed with a safety word which will trigger the pre-mature ending of the show. Audiences are always escorted by at least two characters. The trick is hiding these safety measures; embedding them in the plot so deep down that it never crosses their minds. 

Manifesto Three: Let's Get Physical!


Monday, 16 October 2017

Manifesto Two: Shakespeare Time!


Hommo Dramaturgy: Tom Froy @ Lion and Unicorn

Written, Produced and Directed by T. Froy




Blog: soithoughti.blogspot.co.uk

‘Hommo’ deals with the eroticism of masculinity. It follows two men as they prepare to kill a woman, and concurrently seduce another woman. 

The narratives run alongside each other as the men try to achieve their ideals of manhood. 

These extremities of violence and desire seek to expose the powerful undercurrents of sexuality in hyper-masculine relationships and interactions. 

The play confronts and criticises modern masculinity, presenting a naked vision of the hidden sexuality of gender





What was the inspiration for this performance?

Watching men chatting to each other and seeing the undercurrent power struggle and search of sexual superiority in social engagements between men.

Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas? 
Yes, because people don’t agree with, don’t like, object to my performances and this leads to discussion. ‘HOMMO’ came out of a discussion I had with a friend about how she didn’t like my previous production because it was a feminist play written about the female experience, by a man. So the first play provoked discussion which led to a second play, which will in turn lead to discussion
 How did you become interested in making performance?
It’s quite an easy to way to bring up and flesh and flex out new ideas
 Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
Teamwork. The more people the greater number of cumulative ideas
 Does the show fit with your usual productions?
Yes. My interest is gender and sexuality
 What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Discomfort. I always want to bring audiences out of their comfort zone. Otherwise they should have stayed at home
 What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

I have contacted loads of adult men and asked them why they cry and am publishing their responses in the programme of the play. This is about forcing men to confront their own sensitivity in a strange way. It’s not usual to read your own statement about the last time you cried. And it will be set among the statements of many many others. It makes them part of the performance. 

Bitched Dramaturgy: Juliet Knight @ Kali

the premiere of:

BITCHED’ by Sharon Raizada

A pacy, sharply observed contemporary drama about 

relationships, marriage, children, careers and having it all…or not…



October 25th-November 11th – Tristan Bates Theatre, London WC2

Bitched’ centres on the relationships and everyday lives of two vibrant couples: Rob and Ali, and Suzanne and Nirjay.  The tangled subjects of love, marriage, parenthood, responsibility, ambition and careers are aired and debated in an often heated atmosphere amid polarising views and changing circumstances.  

Will the couples stay together despite their differences…will they be able to balance parenthood, marriage and careers…will chasing the dream affect everything else…or will they somehow find a path to equality and happiness…Raizada asks all these questions and more.

What was the inspiration for this performance?

JULIET KNIGHT:      As a working mother I have wanted to work on a project exploring motherhood for a long time so I was really excited when I read Sharon's script. My relationship with the themes of the play was deeply rooted in my own experience of juggling motherhood and work for the past sixteen years. 

As a theatre maker I really thrive on collaboration so was excited to literally start on stage with a blank canvas. Exploring artists like Tracey Emin sparked the idea of a stage scattered with the cluttered life of a working mother; and Mary Kelly’s seminal 1972 short film Nightcleaners Part 1 made me very clear that the aesthetic for this piece of theatre would use realistic domestic items and stylised physical sequences to create the work of art.
.
Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?

JULIET KNIGHT:      The story of Ali (‘Bitched’ protagonist) sees the journey of a financially dependent people-pleasing wife/mother to a self sufficient, financially independent working single parent. By following this story and facing uncomfortable portrayals of women and how they treat each other the audience are
invited to ask questions. 

I am looking forward to fellow parents from the school gates seeing this production. Something in the live nature of theatre and chats in a bar after feels good for the soul. I spend a lot of time with a screen these days so I feel gathering around a stage and being part of a collective is what we need more of.

How did you become interested in making performance?

JULIET KNIGHT:      As a kid I loved old black and white films. When I look back I realise I've always found great comfort and inspiration in stories. I trained as an actor and while I loved performing in my 20s, I started to enjoy the creativity of shaping and building a show. Finding the right piece of music to tell the story or watching actors discover their characters through an improvisation became joyful.

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

JULIET KNIGHT:      I do not decide what the actors will be doing before I begin a process. I like to be brave enough to trust that the real discoveries that make a show have pieces of magic happen in the room. 

One thing that excited me on ‘Bitched’ was when I set up a long improvisation with the actors and a room full of objects. I allowed them to go through an imaginary day in the life of their characters. Watching this improvisation fed into all the physical moments and helped to bring a playfulness to the text.

Does the show fit with your usual productions?

JULIET KNIGHT:      I find myself working mostly in new writing or using theatre as a form of social change. Creating work at the women’s theatre company Clean Break with women who have been in the criminal justice system and working with organisations that engage vulnerable young people has shown me how powerful the arts is. 

Last year I directed a show in Thameside Prison in south east London and watched the male prisoners engage, respect and create a professional production. The ethos of Kali and giving South Asian women a voice is something I feel proud to be part of.


What do you hope the audience will experience?

JULIET KNIGHT:      I hope the audience will care about the female characters. I hope they feel the struggle of the characters and most importantly I hope they ask the question of whether parenting alone is the "real" answer. I would also hope that they find the humour in the piece and leave feeling uplifted.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

JULIET KNIGHT:      I spent a lot of time with Sharon Raizada, the writer, working through the text. I immersed myself in the world of the play with the designer for a day. I played games in rehearsals and created a safe space to make work. I decided that the play would be more effective with an audience experience on two sides in order to pull them even closer to the action. 

By laying a laminate floor throughout the whole theatre it makes the audience feel they are in the set.  I think this intimacy gives the audience even more opportunity to be at the heart of the story.

The award-winning KALI THEATRE presents new plays by South Asian female playwrights.  Since it was founded 25 years ago, Kali has discovered and developed talent from across the UK and taken powerful new work to increasing audiences and critical acclaim.

This October Kali are delighted to present BITCHED’, a contemporary new drama by Sharon Raizada, whose own experiences of becoming a mother led to her musings about having it all: marriage, children, job, happiness, equality.

7.30pm: ‘BITCHEDat Tristan Bates: 
October      25th, 26th, 27th, 28th

RUNNING TIME:
90 minutes straight through, no interval
November    1st, 2nd 3rd, 4th, 8th, 9th, 10th, 11th
Box office:      020 3841 6611
Tickets:     £14 (£10 concessions)

Kali’s Artistic Director, Helena Bell, says: “I’m really excited that we’ll be back at Tristan Bates with Sharon’s lively, thought-provoking new play.  ‘Bitched’ is very much a play for our times: about managing – and balancing - relationships and marriage, careers and parenthood that I believe will appeal to a very wide audience.  It’s written with great heart and personal experience by Sharon Raizada who has a wonderful ear for dialogue and a sharp eye for character.  I think audiences will be completely drawn into the world of the four – very strong – characters and I hope it’ll lead to much discussion afterwards.”



Sharon Raizada says: 
“Inspired by my own shock at becoming a mum, I wanted to look at the lives of modern women through the polar opposites of Ali and Suzanne. ‘Bitched’ takes an unflinching look at our lives as we try to negotiate the stresses of work, sex and kids, asking: is it an impossible task?  I was very aware of the change in my own life that came with being a new mother; it was a shock to find the independence and autonomy of a young working woman that I’d always taken for granted, taken away, however temporarily.

“I naturally assumed I could ‘have it all’ and be on exactly the same level as my male friends and peers, but the experience of motherhood changed my role, my status and frankly my employability in a way that is much more similar to my mother’s experience than I wanted (and expected) it to be – I realised that maybe women have travelled a much smaller distance than I thought…”

Sharon’s work has been supported and produced by Kali Theatre, Royal Court Theatre, Soho Theatre, Hampstead Theatre, Oval House Theatre, ITV and BBC Radio 4. She is a graduate of the MPhil in Playwriting at Birmingham University and the Royal Court Critical Mass Writers’ Programme. She was a member of the Royal Court Invitation Studio Group and has worked on Emmerdale and hit CBeebies show ‘Apple Tree House’.




Bitched is directed by Juliet Knight whose many directing credits include: 'Zigger Zagger' by Peter Terson at Wiltons Music Hall with the National Youth Theatre, 'A Raison in the Sun' by Lorraine Hansberry with Synergy Theatre, 'Runts' by Izzy Tennyson at The Brighton and Camden Fringe Festival, 'Variety Hall' by Luke Barnes and 'Prime Resident' by Stella Duffy at Soho Theatre.

“Juggling motherhood and work is a recurring theme in my own life,” says Juliet, “so I am thrilled to be directing Sharon Raizada’s fresh new play which offers a much needed voice asking why parents struggle to fulfil their own needs and what is the cost? Why having children and raising a family in a partnership seems to offer little value or financial reward for the stay at home parent? And what roles do our employers and policy makers have in setting up a healthy home and work life balance?”

Juliet’s recent acting credits include 'Caught in the Net' by Ray Cooney at Vaudeville Theatre,'Tomorrow' by Sam Evans at The White Bear and ‘Eastenders’/BBC.  Juliet is a lecturer at The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama and an Associate Director for The National Youth Theatre.


Kali’s success in developing and staging new plays is evident: ‘Mustafa’ by Naylah Ahmed was nominated for 4 Offies in the Off West End Theatre Awards as well as the Royal National Theatre Playwright Award; tour dates included a two week run at London’s Soho Theatre.  Sonali Bhattacharyya’s play ‘Home’ was presented by Kali and led to a commission at Birmingham Rep and scripts for BBC series such as Eastenders and Holby City.


Kali Theatre was founded in 1991 by Rita Wolf and Rukhsana Ahmad to encourage, develop and present new theatre writing by women from a South Asian background. Kali seeks out writers whose work will challenge as well as entertain a wide audience.  Original content and ideas are an essential part of the company’s mission to encourage writers to reinvent and reshape the theatrical agenda. 
Kali has contributed to the development and support of several important new writers and has become a natural home for women seeking new ways to express and explore contemporary issues and human interest stories.  Helena Bell became Artistic Director last year.

Kali’s annual TALKBACK readings have previously taken place at the Arcola Theatre, Oval House, Soho Theatre and Tristan Bates Theatre.  Past Kali writers have presented plays across the cultural spectrum and written scripts for BBC TV, Channel 4 and other theatre companies.