by Catherine Hart
Within an hour of arriving in Nelson I am lucky enough to meet Shadon and Amelia, the driving talent behind the Nelson Fringe Festival production of Waiting. They tell me that it’s a project that’s been in the works for some time, but it was due to Laura Irish’s supportive insistence that it has come to fruition.
Having moved to Nelson to spend time with family, Amelia and Shadon tell me that creating Waiting has been a creative outlet during their stay. Being able to rehearse in the Victory Boxing space has been invaluable to them in order to create space to work away from home. Shadon comically admits that essentially the two are city kids living it large on a farm, and having an artistic project has been artistically satisfying.
Amelia adds to this sentiment by saying; “It’s been nice to have this project to work on, and maybe this piece will go into something else, but it is thanks to Laura that we get to work on it in this environment. Nelson is so lovely, the theatre community has been so welcoming… We usually put so much pressure on ourselves when we’re making that we get tunnel vision, and [because of our current circumstances] we’ve been able to take a step back to realise that it’s not the most important thing in our lives.”
I ask Shadon about the origins of the piece, and he tell me: “I had some poetry written already, and I didn’t think that I’d be using it but I thought it would be a great starting point… The poetry wasn’t meant for public consumption, it was just meant for a cathartic release. And some of it’s ended up in the show… I’m naturally a physical theatre actor [so] this is a huge challenge for me. Even though it’s my words… it’s quite dense. Even when I’m learning my own lines I’m like, who wrote this?”
“It kind of started from the blog, that you’ve been writing. And then it sort of evolved. You’re an amazing writer, you should write more,” Amelia adds. “There’s been quite a few battles, we’ve been hitting a lot of walls with him saying ‘I actually don’t want to put this out to the public’ and it’s actually quite close. We’ve never made a piece like this where it feels so close to home.”
As she continues Amelia talks of the tone of the performance; “It’s beautiful, or I think it’s beautiful. It’s really nice to see a guy of Shadon’s stature using this beautiful and poetical language, and it is actually a really delicate piece. I really love seeing that, the juxtaposition… it’s interesting to see a thirty year old man making something beautiful… it’s so lovely to see a man have this kind of feminine quality, but it’s a really masculine show, I think.”
I ask whether the show will continue after the Nelson Fringe Festival, and Shadon reveals that “This is definitely just the first showing, there’s no pressure… it is what it is. Hopefully we do get to re-work it later down the track, be bolder and sillier in the choices. It’s been good just to get us up and running with it because otherwise we never would have.”
Shadon talks of Amelia’s direction being focussed on the technical aspects of the piece, “We’ve been hitting certain phrases, or making it not emotional and letting audiences take what they want from it… it’s helpful for me so I don’t get detached from my own words… For a minute I was trying to catch up to the words, now I’m trying to let the words catch up to me.”
Amelia helps explain her reasoning by adding; “It’s so poetical that you can relate to it with your own stuff… if he just hits the technical then we hear the words and we can relate and then we’re watching but we’re thinking about our story. It’s one of those shows that we feel is on the cusp, it could be amazing or it could be rubbish. And I love making at that point because you just don’t know, because we’re so close to it.”
The two tell me that rap music has been a big inspiration throughout the process. Immediately my mind jumps to beat poetry, but Shadon assures me that he never wanted to head down that track. “I love connecting words, and then I got heavily into mixtapes and stuff like that with hip-hop sites. I love the format of just making albums… I made it like a tracklist, so each scene is a track.”
He adds that this has been aided by the recent influx of music from some of his favourite hip hop artists. Naturally I assume that this would lead to an inclusion of hip hop within the show, but Amelia tells me: “We’ve found that the music that we’re using in the show is more like sleep sounds because the hip-hop was too jarring.”
I make another incorrect assumption by assuming that there would be dance, but Shadon assures me that it’s more like physical movement with a hint of puppetry. Although, he does admit that there’s a dance-like section, and Amelia adds: “When Sha dances everyone smiles or is up there dancing.”
As the two leave to continue with their day I am smiling with inspiration. This show sounds beautiful, honest and challenging; my favourite kind of theatre.
If you would like to book tickets or read more about the show, click here.