We start rehearsals today for The Jam Diaries and so to mark the occasion we asked the brains behind the project, Gemma Stroyan, some questions.
Where did the idea for The Jam Diaries come from?
I realised that a lot of my spoken word that I began writing two years ago was about my experiences and feelings towards this culture of instant gratification, and that in fact it can leave us feeling dissatisfied and confused.
Then when I (rather ironically) had a conversation on tinder about the nature of tinder, the guy pointed out The Jam Experiment. The fact this experiment confirmed that greater choice and greater satisfaction does not always correlate seemed like the perfect metaphor and basis for all the writing I had already done. It was then a matter of piecing it together and experimenting with what I had, and what I wanted to say.
How long have you been working on the piece?
I suppose you could say for a year and a half really, but it's definitely had a clearer direction for the last 6 months.
What does a work in progress offer a writer?
It allows you to leave your ideas and concepts open to continuous development, which I think is actually essential with the kind of content of The Jam Diaries. The social landscape of online dating, or people's views towards instantaneous technology is ever changing, so it was important to keep the rehearsal process fluid, to allow for open discussions and progressive work.
What made you start writing poetry?
I have always written. Whether it just be putting observations on paper, or writing a diary, but it wasn't until I went to a spoken word event over 2 years ago that I realised the impact of performance poetry, and the importance of hearing the words out loud.
That same night I wrote my first poem and it features in The Jam Diaries (I still consider it one of my strongest and clearest pieces).
For the next 6 months, particularly whilst touring the country with a play, I found that writing poetry became my outlet for processing everything I was experiencing at such a fast pace. It became my diary, my way of understanding myself and collecting my thoughts.
Spoken word and theatre seem to be crossing boundaries more and more, why do you think this is?
I think the power of words on a page is something very simple and special. It is then a totally different thing hearing someone speak those words out loud. You have the vocal quality, the pace, the volume, the emotion that all lift the words from the page and give them life. All of the above add to telling a particular story. I think it's both creatively satisfying and powerful for a piece of writing to flow the way it can do in spoken word. Some moments just land with such specificity in this form. It is also incredibly freeing and playful for an actor to be able to build on the natural impact of the text.
A funny moment can be brilliantly executed with a little bit of rhyme, or equally an emotional point can really hit home with a particular choice in rhythm. The words are your oyster in spoken word, and for theatre that is what you want; to find creative ways to celebrate the potential of those moments.
Why do you love theatre?
I think all good theatre can transport you somewhere else for a while. I just feel like in a world where we seem to be increasingly anxious, judgmental and fearful, why not go somewhere where you're allowed to connect, to feel, to open your mind to a perspective you hadn't previously considered, or indeed to feel that you're not alone in your way of thinking? It's so important to tell stories to bring each other together and create change.
You can see The Jam Diaries at Summerhall on 2 December 2016 at 7pm