Why bring your work to Comic Con?
It’s the perfect place for it! If anyone is going to understand a play all about comic-book superheroes it a convention for comic book fans.
I can’t wait to perform for this audience, I think it will be a totally different experience from the previous productions of it because we’ll all be complicit. We’ll all be in on all the in jokes
What inspired this production: did you begin with an idea or a script or an object?I began with an idea, the idea of the inner super hero inside anyone who grew up reading comics having their moment to tell the world that they were in there – hidden deep beneath all of the lore and exclusive t-shirts – just waiting for their chance to be heroic and change the world somehow just like the stars of those comics always did.
I’ve been reading comics since I was about nine years old and there’s always a part of me that’s looking at the world through the filter of the rich comic book mythology I grew up with. I wanted to let that guy out on a stage.
What can the audience expect to see and feel – or even think – of your production?
They’ll see a deceptively sparse set and I imagine at first they’ll feel worried that it’s not more complex. That should fade away quickly though (I hope) when I take them through the world of generation superhero and – if I do it right – make them feel both sad, uplifted hopeful and motivated all at once.
The Dramaturgy Questions
How would you explain the relevance – or otherwise – of dramaturgy within your work?
When you’re making a play that draws so much on universes of fiction that already exist and that are loved by hundreds of thousands you are absolutely responsible for making sure everything makes sense within those universes.
I can’t go around saying that superman suffocates in space or the flash can’t catch a train for example because people wouldn’t accept it. It would irritate and alienate my target audience because I’d be disrespecting something important to them.
So having a lot of knowledge of the subject matter and double checking anything you say is absolutely crucial. I want people drawn into this play, not sitting thinking about whether something I’ve said matching the canon.
What particular traditions and influences would you acknowledge on your work – have any particular artists, or genres inspired you and do you see yourself within their tradition?
Obviously I was hugely influenced by comics, particularly Marvel which I grew up with, and the fast paced, exciting otherworldly genre of comic book fiction and fantasy.
But as well as that I was inspired by a lot of one man shows and performances I’ve seen in the theatre and at the Fringe. One example would be bullet catch – I love how Rob Drummond can hold an audiences attention for an hour on his own and make a play an event, not a passive experience. That’s part of what inspired this play.
Do you have a particular process of making that you could describe – where it begins, how you develop it, and whether there is any collaboration in the process?
My process utterly depends on the play. I guess each play has it’s own demands of how it wants to be written and if you try to fight against what the play wants you end up with something ugly and awkward and stunted.
In some of my works I have collaborated loads and had scores of people contribute ideas and done extensive work-shopping to make sure everything was as polished as it could be.
Hero Worship didn’t want that – it was a solitary labour of love! I wrote the play in one sitting. Performed it for a few people in their living rooms. Got their feedback and went and battered away at it for a while again before coming back to them.
My girlfirend, who must have heard this play in about a thousand different iterations, was absolutely brilliant at telling me when I was missing a chunk of necessary story because I’d gotten to carried away with poetry, or when I’d become dangerously obscure with my comic references and risked losing my audience.
What do you feel the role of the audience is, in terms of making the meaning of your work?
The audience are always another character. I can’t imagine doing a show like this without actively involving them. I don’t want an audience sitting passively and observing the piece whilst not affecting it, I want an audience answering the questions I pose, getting to know the character personally and really becoming part of the whole experience.
I want them to be on the journey with me, not just watching the journey through a glass wall. My play means nothing other than what it means to the people who see it. I got a message after I performed it in Inverness from a 17 year old school kid who tweeted me a week after the performance “I’m still thinking about that play. I can’t get it out of my head” – knowing that people feel like that makes the whole process meaningful. It’s all about what people take from it