An Epic tale of family drama

The Pulse Festival adopts the feel of a David Lean style production this weekend when Foster and Dechery stage Epic – a theatrical experience which blurs the edges between autobiography, history and personal family stories.

Chlo� Dechery, one of the co-directors of the company said that their plan was to combine small, intimate family stories with big history-making events.

The four members of the company have been talking to their own parents and grandparents in order to put the history of their own families on the stage.

The result is a playful and experimental journey through the past hundred years. Epic combines personal stories, video interaction, fanciful re-enactments of key 20th century events, and a cameo from Bertolt Brecht.

Chloe said Epic was designed to create moments of intimacy while also connecting the audience to a bigger historical picture. Small personal stories combine to create landmark historical events.

She illustrated the point with a story about her own father, who as a young man found himself at the heart of the 1968 student riots in Paris.

“My father was 18 in Paris. He was very young, didn’t really know what was going on. He was on his bike and he saw a crowd of people and he ended up having fun. That was his memory. The same with my grandfather, he lived in Paris during the occupation and he remembers the food and going to the theatre. That’s the thing about personal history you remember the mundane elements of it.

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“We wanted to take people on a journey that they could relate to. We wanted to make history accessible.”

She said that wanted a show which embraced different generations as well as different stories. She added that because it was drama rather than a lecture the truth has been enhanced with little flourishes and embellishments for dramatic or humorous effect.

“We look at how true stories turn into legends or family myths even within a few short years. How the truth is reshaped by the process of telling the story.”

The cast – Chlo�, Lucy, Pedro and Ed – dig up the secrets of an English family in the Northern mines, a Portuguese family going through a 50 year-long dictatorship and a war in Angola’s jungle, a French family caught up in colonialism in Alger and a grandfather on a torpedoed boat at the close of the Second World War.

The show uses drama, video technology and songs to tell these personal family tales.

Epic is playing at the Pulse Festival at the New Wolsey on Sunday June 5 at 7.30pm and then at the Colchester Arts Centre on June 9.