One of our highlights at Tulpa from the latest Fringe was Can I Get an Amen?! by Kaitlyn Rogers. The Fringe is over and Kaitlyn’s already at the Melbourne Comedy Festival to take her show to another audience. We decided to get in contact with her to find out more about what went into making the show, what her experiences of the Fringe were, and what’s next.
Considering the nature of the show, our first question was: Do you intend to have the audience leave the show with any particular thought/feeling in mind?
I hope that the audience leaves feeling empowered, uplifted and compelled to question, discuss and challenge the world around them.
Once we leave childhood we are conditioned to behave in a very specific way. We’re forced into a way of life that defines success through materials and money. We forget and deny ourselves the pleasure of play. We forget to celebrate the little things. I don’t think that breeds genuine happiness. I can only speak from my own experiences and beliefs but that’s why I created this show. I invite the audience to question the “perfect” society in which we live in. Is it all it’s cracked up to be? Or do some things need to change? And if so, how?
Therefore, in the short time I have with the audience I invite them into a world where it is safe to play, nothing is wrong, any offer, gesture, opinion is valid.
Tulpa: How scripted, or alternatively spontaneous, is your performance? How much do you let the audience direct where you go with the performance?
Everything is determined by the audience. The “script” remains the same – although how exactly it is played is a reaction to the audience.
Originally, Can I Get An Amen?! was devised through improvisation. I would spend hours in a room by myself trying to make myself laugh. The things that I found funny would make it into the script. However, Can I Get An Amen?! has changed dramatically over this past year and I have the audience to thank for that. In Edinburgh, it was a late-night comedy party show. At Melbourne Fringe, I delved deeper into what I think are important questions.
As I’ve grown as an artist, I’ve found that there are more issues that I want to discuss. I’ve developed my own method to the madness. I am very aware of where the show begins and where I need the audience to be by the end however the character I play is discovering these things in the moment, that’s the challenge. It’s always risky because every night is different with a different audience. However, the heart of the show has been very carefully crafted, I believe that the audience wants to hear it and therefore we always reach that point.
But the show had more to it than its humour. We felt compelled to ask: The serious moments of the show were powerful and emotionally arresting – how do you ensure this works as it does?
The serious moments of the show have happened organically as a reaction to the current times we’re living in right now. Times up.
When that part of the show started to emerge it was completely improvised in the moment and was extremely emotional and powerful. I’m always nervous and apprehensive of that part of the show
because I’m always scared whether the audience will let me go there emotionally. However I believe that part is the heart and core of the show, and over time I’ve been able to carefully craft moments in order to reach a point where I can safely facilitate a discussion with a central question that I’m very passionate about.
The serious moment is also my story; my truth. It’s where the comedy ends and the real me is exposed. And I think that’s what hits home with the audience.
Tulpa: Why did you choose the shows/music you chose for the show?
It all relates to the central theme of sass. When I first started devising the show I would play music, improvise and then write a script. Music plays a huge part because I wanted all the music to be from a specific time period (90s) and feel sassy and funky. Mostly I wanted it to make people feel like they wanted to dance and create a party vibe.
Finally, across all her Fringe shows and experiences, we asked: How did you find the experience of mounting a Fringe show? Were there any things you didn’t expect?
It’s been the most incredible, challenging, wonderful, hardest and best thing I’ve ever done in my life. I love and sometimes loathe the fringe. Part of me wants to ride the fringe forever in any capacity I can and another part of me wants to run away and live in a forest. It’s like Beyonce and Sasha Fierce.
I performed Can I Get An Amen?! for the first time at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival last year. My first solo show. My first comedy show. My first self-produced show at the biggest arts festival in the entire world. So, I’ve learnt a lot.
Most importantly: work hard and don’t be an arsehole (apologies). I’ve learnt that each festival is different and must be tackled in a different way. But the greatest thing is making great mates with artists, technicians, venue managers, front of house, bar staff, and the audience. I wouldn’t be here without the support of the friends I’ve made.
Questions by Liam McNally
Thanks to Kaitlyn Rogers and Mitchell McKay.