It’s been a truly special experience to present Summer Fest. We began the process in January 2019, workshopping possible ideas and themes with the Playing Up Company over the course of a few days and it seemed a vibrant festival interweaving the stories of lots of groups of people was the strongest idea. We were keen to show a sense of community and how individuals form and break bonds and how far people go to ‘fit in’.
Bouncing ideas around with the group meant that we were able to develop characters as well as some great incidental moments that we have incorporated into some of the transitions. Yolanda has done a crazily amazing job at creating 21 distinct characters that have their own journeys and ones that you really want to follow and enjoy spending time with. Some characters who you love to hate, some you can empathise with and some you wish were your friend. She has also fantastically captured the essence of the Playing Up company.
What I love about the Playing Up group is how dynamic they are.
We had a short R&D process where Yolanda would share extracts of the script and we would read them and discuss the events of the play and devise moments off script or see scenes performed by different individuals to see what creative spin they bought to these moments. Each session we left with a plethora of ideas. What I love about the Playing Up group is how dynamic they are. They contribute great ideas and are really playful and experimental; they are always willing to push boundaries and expand on the ideas Yolanda and I present to them. The rehearsal process has been a rewarding one.
Week one involved more dramaturgy on the script, trying to sharpen the structure and develop some of characters story arcs. The rest of the process has been us dissecting the story, incorporating movement and shaping the show with the rest of the creative team.
With me and Yolanda, throughout the entire process has been my amazing Assistant Director, Phao, who has had a hand in the dramaturgy process as well as with the movement and generally has been a great supportive energy in the room for us all; we have been a great collaborative trio.
I hope Summer Fest takes the audience on an energetic ride of mayhem and fun yet still feeling that it is fundamentally a story with heart.
Written by Yolanda Mercy
Directed by Lakesha Arie-Angelo
Summer Fest runs from 10-13 July at the Bunker Theatre