Dutch Kills present Wolf 359’s Temping at this year’s Edinburgh Festival Fringe, returning to the festival after successful runs at last year’s fesitival and in Adelaide. We spoke to producer Alec Silver about putting on a show with no live performers and an audience of one
What’s Temping About?
One of the beautiful aspects of Temping is that there are many possible answers here, due to the fact that it is not a “play” with a “plot” in the traditional sense. As theatregoers, we’re used to sitting in the dark and passively observing as a story unfolds before us. In Temping, you are as much a part of the story as an actor, playright, or other creative team member. You arrive at a space that resembles an office. Within moments you’re given instruction and events unfold. Temping is a play about how you respond to those events. Temping is about you. It’s a piece that gives you agency, centering you in the narrative. Every action you take while in the space has an impact on the experience. There are funny moments and moving moments throughout the piece, and every individual’s experience is entirely their own, due to personal history and the actions you take. The solitary aspect of the piece is integral to facilitating this – all the masks and personas we put on in the presence of others will often fall off within a couple minutes. What will you choose to do once you’re alone? Temping is what you make of it.
How does it work with no live performer?
The solo audience member is the Temp, and therefore the star of the show! Once they are situated in the office and are left alone, our Operators interact with them through an email, a telephone, and a printer. The Temp is introduced to an entire cast of characters through these elements, but they are all being simulated by our Operators. We take our cues off of the audience member, who is also our lead actor, who hasn’t read the script!
How much does the audience control the narrative?
The show is a sandbox in a way. While there is a script, and consistent narrative elements that will happen every show, the pacing is completely up to the audience member, and there is plenty of room for personalization. They have the ability to explore the physical space at their leisure and characters will respond directly to their emails. Tangents and diversions to the work may be followed to a degree, before they are called upon to move the story forward once more.
Do you have any stories about doing the show last year in Edinburgh/Adelaide?
The stories are endless. Here are two. We had a man in Edinburgh last year who came into the office and immediately treated it as if he was the emperor of the world. He pushed every single character’s buttons and ended up making fierce enemies and loyal friends in the office. At the end of the show, we talked to him and he couldn’t have been more pleasant. He said that he worked in an office in real life, and to give these “fake” coworkers some attitude was actually very therapeutic for him. There was a woman in Adelaide who fell in love with the printer. She petted it affectionately as it printed out documents. She wrote messages on sticky notes and placed them on the printer. She announced to the office that she and the printer had fallen in love. There are countless more stories.
Have you changed it at all, or do you think the audience’s reaction to it will change now that we’re fully out of the pandemic?
We have made only very minor changes to the script and set over the years, but one of the most beautiful things about this show is that it is always changing. Every audience member behaves differently, and the show immediately adapts to center each particular individual’s experience. It’s a show filled with constant, quiet discovery around every corner. We work hard to make the environment as immersive as possible, and the feelings audiences may have of being “back in the office” after the pandemic may emulate or provide a foil to their actual officework experience.
What are you looking forward to most about being back in Edinburgh?
We can’t wait to see the incredible work that is on show at the Fringe, and to meet and forge connections with the most hardworking and innovative artists in the world.
Temping is at Assembly George Square Studios – The Cubicle at Buccleauch Place, 4 -27 Aug every 90 minutes from 10am until 10pm https://assemblyfestival.com/whats-on/temping