Bryony Kimmings Oct29


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Bryony Kimmings

There’s nothing as exciting as seeing fresh, vibrant new writing and performance. The Bush theatre’s inaugural RADAR festival in 2012 brought together more than a hundred talented artists and leading theatre-makers from across the country, and provoked debate about the future of new writing. This year, RADAR returns to the Bush in November, presenting seven innovative new writing shows from across the UK and Europe and three sneak-peeks of new work.

One of the most exciting writer/performers taking part this year is Bryony Kimmings. Kimmings is a performance artist who creates full-length theatre shows, cabaret work, homemade music and sound installations. Previous works include Sex Idiot, 7 Day Drunk, Mega, and Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model (winner of a Fringe First). Her show at RADAR, Heartache.Heartbreak, is an endless letter to lost loves across the world. As part of RADAR, Kimmings lands in Shepherds Bush and asks its residents for its cures for heartache. Kimmings then creates small pieces of performance for those who help her.

She took a break in The Rehearsal Room to talk heartbreak, hugs from strangers and tackling loneliness


What inspires your work?
I always say I am fascinated by the taboos and anomalies of British culture, I have been saying it so long I sometimes forget what I mean, so this is a good question for me. I am inspired by the subjects that seem too big to begin, the subjects that make our toes curl up, our neck shrink into our collars, the topics that we hope we don’t ever have to talk to our mum about. The things that make us tick. I like to go at the meaty subjects as I have found over the years that my style of work, and my style of address seems to make people feel ok for being a dirty human being. I seem suited to soothsaying and calling a spade a spade. More and more recently I am driven by injustice, less by the frivolous and more by the political.

Tell me about Heartache.Heartbreak – how did it come about and how will it work, it’s based on residents cures for heartache?
This piece of work is dear to me and somewhere gradually evolving. I usually scheme up a big project and dedicate my life to it for two years, with big budgets, stupidly huge aims and lots of huffing and puffing from funders and supporters. THIS is different. This work is all about local communities, the free, the exchanged, the currency of emotion, the little things that unite us. It began in Portugal on a residency and I keep on chipping away at it simply because I like the process and the idea, and it seems about as close to comedy as I can get. I am never going to be a stand up, but I love making people laugh (mostly so I can punch them in the stomach about something later admittedly). I was at the time heartbroken, unable to leave my hotel yet on a residency where I was expected to make something in a week. I cried on park benches, drowned my sorrows in empty bars, asked for hugs from strangers… and I was overwhelmed by (even in a country where the language was not my own) the generosity of strangers. When you explain your heart is broken MOST people have instant sympathy, advice or just a knowing squeeze of the hand for you. Love (and its naughty sister Hate) is universal, cheesy as that sounds. It unites us, heartache, it makes us shells, it makes us extend our hand to others… what this piece of work is fascinated with is the advice and stories given by strangers. I will spend 3 days with my team on the pavements of Shepherds Bush and I will gather pockets of advice. I will then create a piece of art for each piece of advice given and I will present them to an audience, with narration, stories and recordings of the encounters. It is a fun evening of sharing, caring and laughing. Something I will keep re-visiting.

What can we expect to see in the piece?
Me dressed as powerful female characters, lots of cheap props, people that you don’t usually see at the theatre being involved, lots of word plays and more than a little bit of lonely wanking probably. It’s funny and raw.

The copy says the piece it seeks to eradicate loneliness, why was this something you particularly wanted to tackle?
I find that we live in a city where we very rarely look a stranger in the eye. Why is this? What are we scared of? When you are at your most heartbroken, that is when you need support, this is a cataloguing of help and advice played out as a kind of self help hour. If you want to think about humanity and how man should look one another in the eye, this is for you. And if you like shoes on fire.

Words like outrageous and dangerous are used to describe you – do you see your work like that?
Naaah, I don’t see myself like that really, its just a way of talking utilised by me and others to sell tickets. I think if I didn’t push at boundaries I wouldn’t be doing my job as a performance artist, I am not a theatre maker. I make experiences happen, if they seem dangerous it is because sometimes they are new and new is scary.

Is this your first time at the Bush?
It sure is, I am very excited about my visit. I like this show as it is so unpredictable and exhilarating, I like walking on stage and for once being very free to just play. Magic happens. We become humans in a room.

What are you working on next?
None of your business. I am touring Credible Likeable Superstar Role Model and continuing the fame project that I am currently winning for a while. I have plans but they are secrets. The next show needs to be amazing, thanks to the success of the current one, so I am keeping it under my hat until its ready.

The RADAR Festival is at the Bush theatre Wed 6th-Thu 21st Nov