RDS7: Pedalling your theatre wares

Posted on September 15, 2014 by Basement

It’s taken me over 24 hours to figure out exactly what to distill from my interview with Barnie Duncan. I knew I was asking more questions than I should for a brief RDS7 interview but the man is damn interesting and his process was intriguing. In the end I decided to focus on how Barnie was feeling about bringing this award winning work to The Basement stage.

Dawn Glover: Tell me how …Him entered the Fringe World?

Barnie Duncan: It was at the end of Melbourne Comedy fest that I was having a beer with the guy who runs that, and he said “what about Melbourne Fringe, have you thought about doing that?” and I said “yeah, sure. When is that?” He said in a couple months and asked me if I had an idea. And I had this idea for …Him, for a really long time, like fifteen years… and I was having a beer with Trygve (of Theatre Beating) one night and I said I think I want to do that and he said, “Do it. I really want to see that show, you’ve been talking about it for a long time.”

DG: So …Him, first played in Auckland as part of the Auckland Fringe Festival?

BD: We did a season at The Audio Foundation… they don’t usually let theatre in there but they liked the sound of …Him, the idea of it. Plus the score… it fits with the Audio Foundations modus operandi of strange…the score is made out of cello and newspaper scrunches. I had given Beatrice that as a pallet and she made an amazing, evocative score. It really is another character to react with.

DG: And now you’re bringing …Him, to the Basement.

BD: It’s going to be interesting because it’s going to be the first time that the show has ever been in a theatre. The first time that it has ever been not in a festival. So it’s standing on it’s own little legs.

DG: Are you nervous? Are you excited?

BD: I’m just excited. I’ve made a lot of stuff, we’re a pretty prolific company, but out of all the things that I have made …Him, is the thing that I am totally most proud of. And every time we do it I get a little closer to nailing it, but it’s still quit a ways off from being where I think it could be. I think it’s a fucking beautiful piece of work. So I am really excited about doing it again, I haven’t done it for almost a year.

It’s the only thing that I have made that’s not a comedy. It’s got humor in it, but I wanted to try and make something that was beautiful as my primary goal. Not make something that was funny or idiotic or absurd. I’m interested in the skills that I learn with the kind of humor that I like to make…me surfing the unknown with the audience, how far we can go…I like to see how that transcends into things that aren’t comedy, and …Him, allows me to explore that.

DG: I’ve heard a lot about and have read a lot of reviews about …Him but having not seen it I still don’t feel like I really know what it’s about. One review talked about …Him, as a social commentary. What are your thoughts on that? What were you going for with …Him?

BD: It’s a comment on how lots of people take as gospel, the news. I wanted us to think what would happen if you got a person and you took that to the extreme degree and literally their entire view of the outside world was based on one daily newspaper. So there idea of weather, relationships, race relations, crime statistics, natural disasters, of trends with dining, celebrity, EVERYTHING, was based on what they read. What would that persons’ brain be like? So …Him, is a way of exploring and commenting on that.

You can check out this beautiful Performance Installation and see how the use of The New Zealand Herald informs Barnie’s work in Him, beginning on the 16th of this month in the upstairs studio.