Andy Edward’s work-in-progress piece, Arketype (24 & 25 May, 8pm) is a tragic-comic revisioning of Noah’s Ark – a retelling of the famous flood myth against a contemporary world of rising sea levels and men whose boats we don’t need.
Tron CREATIVE presents
ARKETYPE (Work in Progress)
Tickets: £5 (£3 Maker)
0141 552 4267
What was the inspiration for this performance?
Arketype is a retelling of Noah’s Ark, relocated to a near future Scotland devastated by rising sea levels.
The inspiration primarily came from a) knowing that there was a deadline for the opportunity at Tron Theatre on the horizon, and b) I’d been listening to a one-off special on BBC Radio 4 about how climate change intersects with gender, ethnicity and class.
The take home point was that climate change will have a disproportionately small impact on the people who were its chief cause – namely white, western, affluent, men. This set me off on a path of reading, watching and listening, thinking about the relationship between male archetypes and the multiple global environmental crises that lie in wait. I had done a lot of reading about relationships between disability and wilderness as part of a PhD application a few years ago, and found myself coming back to this material again too. Very quickly this idea of Noah – and of heroic men – came to mind.
Is performance still a good space for the public discussion of ideas?
It depends on how access to that space is mediated. Access to the theatre, both as someone sitting in the audience and as someone who makes work, isn’t a level playing field. So, if the costs to entry are relatively high, for example, then you’ll end up having a discussion of ideas with a section of the public who can afford to be there.
I think the nature of discussion that theatre offers has the capacity to become more and more valuable, especially when compared to how online discourse operates. I don’t think we’re going to see a return to the days when theatre was a central space for the public discussion of ideas, the internet is amazing for that (if not without its faults), but theatre might offer a counterbalance. Theatre, while being fairly immediate to do – you just stand up and say something – is very cumbersome. The audience have to come, we all have to be in the same place, we’ve often got to rehearse. This way of using time, making journeys, assembling together – is valuable.
Hopefully it allows for a different type of discussion to take place. As an audience member I’ve always enjoyed taking my seat, the lights going down, and being offered that place to watch without needing to respond. That’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but I think that experience allows me to properly engage with an idea, and to have an emotional response to it, before feeling any pressure to contribute my own thoughts.
How did you become interested in making performance?
Growing up in a pretty rural area, I never really went to the theatre much as a kid – there wasn’t one nearby, and the theatre in Chester was closed down to be turned into a car park. I watched a fair amount of films, and used to love dialogue. I started writing my own, in a library at lunchtime while at high school. A couple of years later I’d written a play.
Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
Arketype is an adaptation of Noah’s Ark, so my first port of call was to pick up a copy of Genesis and plough on. I then spent a fair amount of time trying to contextualise this story within the wider world of flood mythology, ecofeminist critique, previous adaptations and the domain of ecolinguistics. Before sitting down to think about what the play actually is, I spent a lot of time researching around. I tend to do this a good deal of time in advance of when I hope to write, the notion being the research seeps into my brain over time and ends up coming out organically in the narrative.
After that I sat down and wrote a first draft. Currently it is nestling in some trusted friends’ inboxes. As always, it looks nothing like what I had intended to write.
What happens next is what I’m most excited about. In April I’m off to Mull for a week-long artists’ boatbuilding residency. The logic being that if I’m writing a play about a bloke building a boat that nobody wants, then it might be helpful to go and a build a boat, like a total ruddy bloke. Taking it a little more seriously, it’ll be a great opportunity to a) learn how to build a boat, b) frame how I understand Noah’s construction of the ark, and c) discuss what I’m writing about how artists from a range of disciplines. At the end of the week we all get out into the sea on the boat we’ve hopefully constructed – and it’ll be absolutely amazing if we sink.
As part of being in residence at the Tron Theatre, I will then spend two weeks developing Arketype with Eve Nicol and a group of actors. I’ve never had this opportunity before, to work on a script of mine so intensely for such a long period. I can’t wait. Often when I’ve written work is has a couple of days development, if I’m lucky at the start of a rehearsal process. This is slightly different, given we’re freed from the pressures of having to learn lines, rehearse. I’ve no idea what will happen to be honest, but the challenge in writing the play right now is to leave the script open enough for everyone to get stuck in.
Does the show fit with your usual productions?
Arketype is a play, and there it contains stuff I always end up writing about, one way or an other, so it’s pretty inline with the work I often make.
Having said that, the most recent draft has a shark in it, two flatulent cows and several sing-alongs, which is something of a departure from the sort of stuff I normally write about. Thanks to some recent mentoring from David Leddy, I’ve been thinking a lot more clearly about the audience when I write. What do they want? What do they need? What can I offer?
When I started out I spent a lot of time thinking about my ideas, the concept, but less about whether folk would have a good time engaging with them. So, to remedy the problem, I’ve given the audience what they want – a shark.
What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Laughter. I want the audience to experience some very genuine laughter. The humour style is very different but I remember the first time I saw Tim Vine I nearly vomited on myself from laughing so hard. That’d be great. Laughing is a fantastic gateway into thinking – and crying. The story of Noah and his family is pretty tragic. So equal parts laughing and crying would be fantastic.