Finally, I’m back and ready to continue the One Eyed Man experiments. I’m picking up where I left off with a brand new show which will run monthly at Volcano Theatre Company’s fantastic new space in Swansea at 229 High Street. Here’s the blurb and I’ll explain more below:
The One Eyed Man & Volcano Theatre Company
You’ve got 500 friends on Facebook ...
You’ve got 700 followers on Twitter ...
But when was the last time you actually had a conversation?
CHAT/SHOW is a unique experience in performance and participation. Suggest a topic, study the basic principles then practice the skills of real conversation.
The art of conversation is dead.
Venue: Volcano @229 High Street, Swansea
Dates: 24th January; 15th February; 20th March; 17th April
Event begins at 7.30pm. Duration: 90mins.
All tickets: £3 on the door.
Further info: www.volcanotheatre.co.uk
Facebook: The One Eyed Man Project
Twitter: @manoneeye; @Volcano229
Intrigued? I hope so.
So, what exactly is CHAT/SHOW? Well, for those of you that didn’t see a One Eyed Man show last year (and for those of you that did and didn’t understand what the hell I was up to ...), CHAT/SHOW is the next stage in an ongoing series of performance experiments that I am conducting in front of and with audiences. You see, after years of working as a professional, traditional actor; years of working as a writer for stage and TV; and, latterly, years of working for and with Volcano making work that genuinely engages, challenges, scares and amazes - I began to wonder why it was that I – and many other people – were falling out of love with theatre. My realisation was that this most immediate of mediums – the performers are in the room with you, anything could happen – had lost it’s immediacy. We all know the routine – get your ticket, grab a drink, go to the loo, find your seat, the curtain rises, the actors go through the motions, we clap, they bow and everybody goes home.
*Okay that might be doing it something of a disservice but you get the basic idea ... *
There are many new and engaging forms of theatre that play on the immediacy of the form. Immersive, interactive experiences that take us on a journey – sometimes literally – that walk us through a space, or put us through an endurance test. And in a world where we spend more and more time looking at screens, these experiences remind us that there is something primal in making a genuine and real connection with a performer. I believe this is why stand-up comedy has become the new rock and roll with stars like Michael McIntyre and Dara O’Brain (whatever you may think of them and their ilk) selling out arena’s around the country. The audience feels it is taking part in something live and unique.
But, for me, something was still missing. Genuine immediacy. Stand-up and interactive theatre are still working from the same basic premise – write a show, rehearse a show, perform a show. I wondered what would happen if you took the first two of those away and simply ... did a show.
So, I did. In 6 different non-performance venues in Swansea and Cardiff last year, I performed 29 totally unscripted and unplanned ‘shows’ to audiences who varied in size from 30+ to 1. And I learnt the most wonderful thing.
Not only did it work but there was a genuine and real sense of connection: between myself and the audience and (and this is the nub of CHAT/SHOW) between the audience members themselves. People fed back to me that they genuinely loved a chance to meet, engage and converse with total strangers about truly deep and meaningful topics. My job was to create a space safe enough for people to meet minds without fear of ridicule or censure. And that’s what I did.
*Full disclosure – not everyone liked it. Some people felt intimidated by being talked to rather than at, or felt a pressure to engage or talk when they simply didn’t want to. Some people asked me what on earth I thought I was doing and whether I was trying to give ‘group therapy’. Somebody wondered what the hell Arts Council Wales were funding me for. I’m sure they wondered the same thing ... *
People conversed. Spurred on by my ramblings on my deep, abiding fear that hate all of mankind – people who don’t indicate, students, people who don’t pick up after their dog, students, people who talk on their phone in the quiet carriage, students who wear flip-flops in December etc – my audiences engaged with me and each other on a level that we so seldom communicate with strangers. We shared thoughts, ideas, fears and joys. The simple act of conversation seemed to enliven people’s day and feed something absolutely necessary in us all.
So, the next logical stage in the work is to make conversation the central point of an evening.
So, I did.
CHAT/SHOW will explore conversation – how we do it, why we do it, what do we talk about. Is it a skill to be learnt or something we can all instinctively do? An attempt to create for the 21st century the French salons of the 18th. We will come together, examine the fundamental’s of good conversation, share stories of conversations past – both good and bad, everyone love’s a horror story – and then ... we’ll have one.
*Don’t worry – if you don’t want to participate, you don’t have to. But I feel sure that – should you come to the show – after an hour or so, you’ll be raring to get stuck in. But I’m not giving your money back if you don’t ... *
Like the initial experiments, there will be nothing pre-planned, written or rehearsed. The evening will revolve around what you and I bring to it, the day we’ve just lived through and the things we want to talk about. The difference is that talk is what it’s about.
A regular, monthly event at 229 where talk is back on the menu. I think it’ll be great and I really hope you fancy coming along.