So, blog number 2 with the glorious sound of The White Stripes first album pumping in the background and whilst I should be doing other things - many other things.
It's been an odd couple of weeks in preparation for beginning the one eyed man process. I've set myself the arbitrary start date of 7th February since that gives me ten weeks 'prep' before I begin a four week 'rehearsal' process leading up to six weeks of shows - three weeks in Swansea and three in Cardiff, alternating between the two cities and in a different venue each week. So, there are all sorts of dull but vital administrative tasks to be performed - finding venues and securing them; writing promotional copy and disseminating it as widely as possible; getting images; organising online tools (like this one) - now, all of these things are vital but ultimately all they do is put off the inevitable question to wrestle with -
I'm proposing to perform 36 'shows' - and I want them to be totally improvised in the moment with that audience. No script, no rehearsal - simply me and them in that odd space as human beings together, finding out what we find out and saying what needs to be said. So, the questions I'm asking myself are all related to what I want to get out of it and what on earth do I think I'm doing? I guess like everyone else in life I find myself evolving and wishing to push myself out of my comfort zone and to challenge myself to do something of value.
I arrived at this place via a circuitous route - like John Lennon nearly said - 'Life is what happened to me while I was busy making other plans.' I started out as an actor and trained to be one at RADA nearly twenty years ago. I worked a lot but never really consistently and I found the work that I was doing ranged from rather dull to mind-blowing. The latter category was taken up with work that I felt changed people's minds and their perceptions through theatre and performance. So, I played Iago years ago in a production of Othello and annoyed a lot of people by playing him as a flawed, screwed up man trying to do the right thing - rather than the usual interpretation of a Machievellian villain. Because I've never met anyone like that, have you? Then I played MacHeath in The Threepenny Opera as a racist skinhead and scared the bejesus out of the audience because they quite liked me. Then I got involved with Swansea's Volcano Theatre Company ...
The work they do is so utterly unique and idiosyncratic that is almost impossible to quantify them - they are iconoclasts and artists who wish to take their audience on journeys far out of their comfort zone - to challenge, question and debate. And I love them.
It's extremely common in this era of knee jerk cynicism and internet trolls to be wary about showing enthusiasm for passion, commitment and idealism - but I'm so bored of that kind of thinking that I could tear out my eyes and hack off my ears whenever I see and hear it. I don't know about you but I'm only going to be here for a little while - I don't know exactly how long, none of us do - and I want to live every moment of it to the full - and that means throwing myself in with passion and a desire to dream and explore and create with every fibre of my being. And that's what Volcano do and that's what they taught me. Hence this experiment.
These are just rambling thoughts and I don't expect them to make any sense but perhaps if the next three months or so continue in this vein then some sense may well emerge.
So, venues are being prepared and print is being prunted (?) and yesterday I had my first meeting with my mentor on the project, Mark Thomas. Much of what we talked about is not for public consumption since it relates to the shows themselves and I really want to take people on a journey of the unexpected. But what I can say is that, in his case, the old adage about never meeting your heroes was proven wrong. He's an absolute gentleman who, crucially for me in relation to this project, talks like he walks. He is who he says he is and he does the things he believes in - and he believes in them passionately and with his whole heart and soul. Like Gandhi said - you must become the change you wish to see in the world. And Mark does that. And I want to do that too.
More soon. Hope you have a great day.