As pre-Edinburgh media coverage goes into overdrive, Theatre Bubble turns its attention to a lesser-known fringe festival much closer to home, and the artists going against the tide and bringing their work to London this August.
Foxtale is an international performance collective founded by Judita Vivas. They create work grounded in a physical approach to contemporary theatremaking, through ensemble explorations of play, improvisation and composition. Their work is “low-tech, engaging and challenging.” Their show Mr Jordan’s Funeral is a poetic re-imagining of death and memories one leaves behind – all told by six women who gather at the funeral. It performs at Etcetera Theatre from the 26th – 28th August.
Theatre Bubble: What makes the Camden Fringe different?
Judita Vivas: Camden Fringe seems to be a quirky, diverse and beautifully open theatre festival – perfect for an emerging company like Foxtale. It provides a much needed alternative to Edinburgh in August and creates a wonderful atmosphere in and around Camden. The organisers are great which made our experience of the festival so far very positive, we got all the support and advise needed!
TB: What inspired you to create this show?
JV: The starting point for Mr Jordan’s Funeral was a line we were experimenting with during training, which ended in: “… attend Mr Jordan’s Funeral.” Essentially, that’s exactly what the show is still about: six women attending the funeral of a man. However, and ironically, the performance ended up being not about Mr Jordan at all, but about these women and their complex, funny, messy and, at times, very sincere relationships to him and to each other.
TB: What characterises members of the Foxtale Ensemble? What brought you together?
JV: We are an international female theatre collective (Greece, Lithuania, Norway, UK), each with a specific strength, skill set and background. I invited the girls to work with me while doing my PhD at the University of Kent. Some of them were my current/past drama students, some were just finishing their studies or also doing a PhD. Recently, three of them graduated from Duende School of Ensemble Theatre and one from Lispa.
However, what really brought us together was a real passion for physical theatre training and devising performance. That was our only agenda – we wanted to get together, train together and make some art in the process. It sounds very simple, but it requires a lot of dedication, patience and love for theatre.
TB: How did you create this show?
JV: Initially we didn’t know who is Mr Jordan or what is our relationship to him. Gradually, through improvisation, adding random bits of text (Charles Mee and others) and music, and a lot of play Foxtale-style, we came up with a dramaturgy. While there is no clear narrative and the show is very fragmented, we managed to create a performance world that is visual, visceral, funny, sometimes outrageous and has its own rather inverted logic. Most importantly, our audience is always encouraged to be part of this strange funeral and create their own stories.
Buy tickets for Mr Jordan’s Funeral here.
Penny Productions presents The Day I Married Myself at the Canal Cafe Theatre from the 8th – 10th August. Very loosely based on true stories of self-marriages, the show is a tragicomic celebration of one man’s ultimate dedication to the person who has been with him from the very beginning.
Theatre Bubble: What makes the Camden Fringe different?
Penny Productions: We love the Camden Fringe Festival because it feels homemade and local, even though it’s held against the backdrop of London (a city spoilt for choice of art, theatre and comedy). The Camden Fringe encourages audiences to explore the borough to discover masses of theatre and comedy that otherwise might be un-staged.
This is our second year at the Fringe because we had a ball last year. We were so overwhelmed with the support and responses, and the Camden Fringe feels so special because your audience found you! There is a lovely family spirit that resonates throughout the companies and organisers that makes being a part of this festival a real privilege.
TB: What was the inspiration for this piece?
PP: A few years ago I read a newspaper article about a lady who married herself. I was given the opportunity by The Courtyard Theatre in Hoxton to perform a 10 minute scratch performance of it, so I took it. A wedding has so many values, laws and religious beliefs so I found it difficult at first to make sense of a self marriage. I then learnt that self marriage is not accepted in the eyes of the law which turned me onto the performance aspects of a wedding. More than the newspaper story, it became increasingly important to play with the structure and traditions of a wedding. So rather than create a performance out of the article, we created a performance out of the absurdity of it.
TB: What have been your primary influences in creating this piece?
PP: Our main influences have been COSmino Theatre and Carran Waterfield who we have worked with and learnt a lot from. We are also inspired artistically by companies such as Odin Teatret, Shunt, Complicite, and Punchdrunk. We are continually inspired by movie structures and nostalgic aesthetics. We tend not to use any harsh colours or brands in our performances. We like to bring the audience into a hyper-realistic state where the blandness of colour becomes the norm. Our performance style mixes naturalism with absurdity and surrealism to expose the mundane, comic and unusual aspects of life. Our aesthetic allows for the audience to be reinvigorated with the world when they leave our space as they are greeted with colour and noise.
Buy tickets for The Day I Married Myself here.