Too Much Knowledge? Experience in show creation for rural touring with the Fabulous Old Spot Theatre Company
"Our aim is make theatre for the present with the Angels and Demons of the past" Carlo Boso
Creating all age group touring shows specifically for rural community venues should be simple enough for a professional: create a good show, any good show and include in it the usual ingredients to make it so. However, creating a show with the property of being able to make each performance seem venue specific (treating each audience as special), whilst trying to add deeper resonances in terms of place, culture, theme and way of life, as well as keeping the performance at least theoretically universal (and hence audience friendly in a big way) we ran into the problem of choice. What elements from folk drama, music, local lore and geography are suitable show ingredients that do not patronise and are good enough to get one invited back?
There were two paths through this conundrum. The first being theatrical expertise in devising shows, and the second being finding a method of making the best possible educated guesses as to form and content. To answer the second, which is the main thrust of my paper, the frame of reference needed to be widened rather than narrowed. The frames started to include models of theatre from the past, especially Greek Comedy and the Commedia dell'arte. Add to this Mummer's plays; Mystery plays; Local Saints' Plays; local legends; Faery Stories; Historical, quasi-historical and mythical figures; Early Christian and Pre-Christian ceremonies. The list could go on, but our search's parameters were not archaeological, but contemporary. This paper is concerned with the search for dramatically entertaining folk memes that can be used both to connect and to entertain: To bring to our audience "the merrie Englande that never was".
About the author
Oliver Crick is an experienced theatre director and workshop leader. He holds particular interests in both commedia dell' arte and actor training. He is a founder and artistic director of the Fabulous Old Spot Theatre Company and a frequent contributor to the work of drama departments in both further and higher education. He is presently co-editing an Introduction to Commedia Dell Arte for Routledge, due for publication in 2014.