If a drone could descend to earth to tell you her story, what would she say? Drone is the tragicomic autobiography of the 21st century’s strangest and most frightening technology. With live poetry, music and video, this glitchy cabaret spectacular is a tender, furious and bleakly funny drone’s-eye-view of anxiety, violence, surveillance, work and survival. We spoke to poet and writer of the show Harry Josephine Giles all about this wonderful piece:
What inspired you to create 'Drone'?
I got curious about drones as the emblematic technology of our neurotic century: panoptic surveillance, violence at a distance, fraught agency, enmeshed in gigantic global networks of power and money. And also consumer toys. So I started to wonder, if drones could speak, what would they say? I started writing in the voice and life of a drone, and then that became a way of talking about my own life. She, the drone, ended up being this character that I wrote my own anxiousness through for many years. And the show came from there!
Tell us about your amazing team of artists.
The idea of turning the book into a show only really took off when I brought other artists on board. The sound artist, Neil Simpson, I met when hosting his work at a performance cabaret, Anatomy, in Edinburgh, I asked if he'd like to jam with me on the project because his work with rich drone sounds suited the themes so well. Jamie Wardrop, the visuals artist, I knew from his work on Kieran Hurley's Beats, a hit show about the political rave scene in Scotland that's now a feature film. The three of us spent weeks working together in the studio to make a live show that wove words, images and music together, like an avant cabaret band. It's a fabulous way to work for a poet -- now I want to do more.
Trans and gender minority literature is something that is really coming alive at the moment, and is very important to me.
What have you learnt from showcasing this show at the Fringe and further afield?
We had a fantastic reception at the Edinburgh Fringe, and performing for that international audience was a real gift. For me, Drone is very much a show about globalisation, about complicity in these world-spanning systems, so it's international from the start and really came alive in that space. But I've also performed the show at home in Orkney, the tiny islands off the north coast of Scotland, and that was one of the most memorable experiences of my life. There's nothing quite like performing to a home crowd, and doing a very queer-trans performance in that local and rural space was special to me: it was special to be welcomed. For me, building a show that can work for both of those audiences is very important.
Is there anything you're looking forward to doing in Aotearoa?
Finding books and writers that are new to me! That's my favourite thing about travelling. I'm particularly excited to learn about local queer and trans literatures, especially from Māori and Pacifika perspectives. Trans and gender minority literature is something that is really coming alive at the moment, and is very important to me.
What should the audience expect?
To laugh more than they expected. I don't know any other way through writing about the most difficult things. And to meet the strangest cabaret diva they've ever met.
Drone is on at Basement Theatre from 12 - 16 Nov. Book tickets or find out more here.