Briefly describe for us what your show is about?
Ablutions is a novel by Patrick DeWitt set in a dingy, declining Hollywood bar and following one wretched bartender and the relationships he has with the regulars who nightly drink themselves into oblivion in front of him. It’s a story about loneliness, addiction and trying to change your life for the better. We were drawn to the book because of its dark humour, unique writing style and incredibly rich characters.
Ablutions is a big step away from what FellSwoop have done previously. Our last show, Belleville Rendez-vous, was a charming family tale that was mostly silent and relied heavily on visuals and grotesque characters. We had a van bursting full of props and now we have none… Ablutions is much darker, broodier, more adult and very text heavy, whilst retaining the company’s signature aesthetic. Describe it for us in three words.
Whiskey. Microphone. Bowels… How will it make people feel? / What do you want it to make people think about?
A lot of the show is inside the mind of our protagonist. This bartender is a wretched, broken soul but you can’t help but warm to his charm. We hope his observations and perilous plan of escape will make people re-assess the world around them, and the little addictions we all have but choose to ignore. What stage will it be at in its development when we see it in July?
We’ve been writing and devising as a company for a few weeks but the show is still quite early on in the rehearsal process – we hope we may be fortunate enough to perform the first half/ two thirds of the story and leave you wanting more…
What elements in particular are you looking forward to testing out on Ferment audiences?
Condensing a long book into a short sharp drama is a challenge and we’d like to test out our new structure, the form of the second person narrative (“You walk into the bar and you pour yourself a drink”), and how four actors can create many locations, ambiances, and characters without any help from set and props. We’re also influenced by the beat generation poets and have played with incorporating the book’s narration into the rhythm of the live music. The music takes inspiration from many genres: Americana, country, 70s pop, as well as trying to capture the transpacific quality of modern Hollywood by using moments of Japanese fusion. It has elements of Tarantino and David Lynch. The aim is to create both a cinematic feel, heightening the drama, but also to give the piece the same timeless quality of that is unique to the book. It will be very interesting to gauge how effective this is.
What are your personal highlights of July’s Ferment Fortnight?
There’s so much great stuff on but we’re really keen to see new work by The Wardrobe Ensemble, Adam Fuller, Greg McLaren, Tom Wainwright and Dan Canham to name but a few…