Wednesday 24 May 2017

Watch This. It's Deep Dramaturgy: Nathan Cassidy @ Edfringe 2017

The Rat Pack Productions presents...
Nathan Cassidy: Watch This. Love me. It’s deep.

Sir Michael Caine Award winning writer and comedian’s new one-man theatre show.  A perfect love story in a swimming pool. It’s deep.

What was the inspiration for this performance?
I’m a stand-up comedian that started my career in theatre around 20 years ago and haven’t done it for around 10 years.  I hadn’t really considered doing more theatre and then something happened to me recently that triggered the memory of meeting the love of my life when I was 15 years old, in a swimming pool.  

This was the jumping off point for a true life perfect love story, exploring the unknown mystery of our imaginations.  Our imaginations can be just as real as what we know as the real world - we can make the dream world a reality. 

Is performance still a good space for the public
discussion of ideas? 
Stand-up teaches you that you can discuss any ideas – there are no limits – and ideas as they occur to you, and you get immediate feedback.  But of course there is a restriction to a certain extent that the ideas in the main need to be funny!  Returning to theatre as been wonderful, as although this piece is funny, there are truly no limits with what you can do, emotions you can evoke and ideas you can discuss.  Some of the audience feedback I’ve had is that there are ideas in this that they have had but not shared or acted upon.  

There are ideas that seem so universal when you are in a space where they can be discussed, whereas elsewhere they may be concealed.  Performance really is the best way to bring these kind of ideas out and change the way people act upon these ideas.

How did you become interested in making performance?
I have been performing since I was a young kid and everything I have ever done has been about making people laugh.  I remember being very young I would do something to make my family laugh and that was the best feeling, my memory is generally terrible but those are the moments I remember – I felt good.  

So my performance up to this point has been mainly about that, making people laugh.  I’ve always wanted to be interesting, subversive, unique, ground-breaking but that’s been the main focus of every performance – making people laugh.  There’s been one previous show that stands apart from that, I wrote a non-comedic play for the Leatherhead Festival that won the Sir Michael Caine Award for new writing, that was a great experience.  

But with this show, probably because it’s a one-man show and the story is my true story, it feels like a real leap into the unknown and it’s been very liberating and exhilarating.

Is there any particular approach to the making of the show?
Having done stand-up for many years, and this being a one-man show so ostensibly not too different, I wanted to approach it with one or two performance rules that I would try not to break – the main one being no deviation from the script or coming off script – I have a story to tell here and unlike stand-up where I might naturally comment if something happened in the space, here – barring major disturbance in the audience which I hope wouldn’t happen – I won’t.  

I’ve also off the stage become quite well known for stunts in Edinburgh.  I gave away money to my audience and been nominated for the Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award in 2012.  But again, the theatre show this year represents a shift away from this. No mic-stand or interaction with an audience to cling on to.  This is me - gimmick free!’

Does the show fit with your usual productions?
This show represents a real departure for me – what has always been my primary aim, to make people laugh, has changed.  This piece is to tell a story, a story that naturally creates certain emotions, and discuss a key central idea that people can take into their life and could change their life – so whilst the laughs come all the way through, it is not the focus of the piece, and it’s not what most audiences will take away.  

Again, some of the comments I’ve had back from audiences are that I’m talking to them on a deeper level, I’m saying something that they have been thinking and it has freed them to a certain extent to explore those ideas.  These are comments I wouldn’t be regularly be getting from stand-up!

What do you hope that the audience will experience?
Judging by the feedback I’ve received so far it’s hopefully a rich experience full of laughter, intrigue and by the end, some deeper and potentially conflicting emotions. And again, from what a few people have said, it could possibly shift your mindset into a different space as you then go about your life.  
I’m saying a few things that maybe we have all been thinking but have done nothing about – so often you need a little push to make the leap you should have made years ago.

What strategies did you consider towards shaping this audience experience?

There’s hardly any set, lighting or audio in this, it’s very much about the story and how I tell it.  With the writing I wanted to make sure that the audience was entertained throughout and was hooked from the start, whilst knowing that things weren’t quite as they seem but without knowing too much.  If people know me from stand-up this is going to be something very different for them as well as for me.  I always like to surprise my audience and it’s going to be great going on this adventure together.

This one-man theatre show combines Nathan Cassidy's distinctive stand-up style with a real life love story.  At 15 years old, Nathan met the love of his life in a swimming pool, and it was perfect.  Some believe that perfection could never exist.  But can you imagine perfect love?  Because if you can imagine it then it’s possible. 

The love of Nathan’s life is Heather, a girl obsessed with swimming, Tarot and the 80s film ‘Big’.  Nathan chose the Moon Tarot card with Heather - the unknown mystery of our imaginations.  Our imaginations can be just as real as what we know as the real world - we can make the dream world a reality. 

Nathan has become well known as a stand-up for several shows - and stunts - in Edinburgh.  Giving away money to his audience saw him nominated for a Malcolm Hardee Cunning Stunt Award in 2012.  The theatre show and the stand-up show this year represents a shift away from this. 

As Nathan says, ‘The theatre show has been a real leap into the unknown for me - my stand-up show this year is about being brave - and this feels like a brave departure, telling a real-life love story - one full of emotion and details I have previously shared with no-one.  No mic-stand or interaction with an audience to cling on to.  This is me - gimmick free!’

Nathan’s last play ‘The Cure for the common cold’ won the Sir Michael Caine Award for new writing in theatre, and he has previous experience in theatre in Edinburgh writing and performing in DIY The Musical in 1997 and in 1996 he was part of a company that won The Spirit of The Fringe Award for 2 shows at C Venues.  As a stand-up he has won and been nominated for awards including a Malcolm Hardee Award nomination at the Edinburgh Fringe and best show win on the Buxton Fringe 2014 (and nominations for the last 2 years).
More about Nathan and his past shows on his Wikipedia page:

Poppy Hillstead @ The Rat Pack Productions Ltd @_theratpack
Nathan Cassidy @nathancassidy

Nathan Cassidy: Watch this. Love me. It’s deep.
C Venues (C Cubed, Royal Mile - Venue 50)
Aug 3-27 13.45 (55mins)
Tickets £6.50-10.50 for more info on this show, High Res images and clips

Nathan’s stand-up show this year explores bravery in a volatile world.
Nathan Cassidy: The Man in the Arena
Malcolm Hardee Award nominee and Best Show Winner at the Buxton Fringe 2014 (and nominee 2015/2016) 
The Free Sisters, Cowgate - Venue 272
Aug 3-27 (not 14) 19.45 (55mins)
FREE (pay what you want on way out) for more info on this show, High Res images and clips

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