A Slightly Crazy Act of Escapism by Jamie Wood

20 July 2017

It's 9.30pm on a Wednesday evening in Elephant and Castle and I'm writing this sitting on the sofa next to my partner as she does the exact same thing for the show she's making. I spent the day playing with my gorgeous two and a half year old daughter with the 7th version of the show weighing heavy in my pocket. All day I kept looking for a moment to read it, digest it, learn it, but I wasn't allowed.

 

That seems quite representative of this year’s run up to Edinburgh. There's not very much space or time to feel or do anything I might have done in previous years. That's not strictly true, I still feel loads; excitement, terror, pride, terror, but it all just arrives in my body in a big heap at one time rather than being spread out over months. I've started swimming every other night when I'm not on bedtime duty, that encourages me to breathe and I like the silence under water and how a stranger will always talk to me when I sit in the sauna. Last night I listened to a man from Syria tell me about his life. Talking to strangers makes me happy.

That was one of the themes for this show, the bubbles we create around ourselves and how we burst them. This show has had quite a steep and abrupt growth compared to McEnroe and O No! But as I read the script as words, patterns and ideas on a page I really like it. It feels big and ambitious and moving whilst still being odd, funny and playful. I was thinking about how it all started with the title five years ago and then the idea for the walk and then slowly an excavation to try and discover what the show is really about for me. The show is about how we limit who we are and what we present to others and how the cumulative affect can be stifling. In a way my show is a portrait of me now and the internal battles I'm fighting to be a proper grown up in a culture that makes very little sense to me. The pilgrimage is a slightly crazy act of escapism - a desperate attempt to make space in a crowded little life. This show feels different to the other two because there aren't any famous people to hide behind. Before performing something with real people several times I don't really have a clue how it'll work. I hope the show creates a space for people to dream whatever they need to dream at that moment in time, or feel what they need to feel that perhaps they don't have time to in their normal busy lives. I also hope people laugh.

I hope the show enables me to meet as many amazing people as O No! and McEnroe has, it's such an incredible way to encounter strangers because people often feel like they know me after a show so they share beautiful personal stories of their lives with me or just buy me a drink and we sit. I hope I get to visit some more of the world too because it's fascinating which bits of a show people in different countries laugh at or find touching or provocative. This is the last solo show of this trilogy and it feels like a last one using a particular collection of aesthetics and theatrical languages. I'm looking forward to performing the whole trilogy together. I'm then starting to make a children's show called Narky Sizzle and the Coconuts which I think will be awesome fun to make, and then a couple of other collaborations with people I massively admire so that I can learn more. Even though I've been making theatre for 20 years I've still got no idea how to do it and always feel like I'm making it up. So I want to learn from others now please.

 

Jamie Wood brings his show I Am A Tree to Assembly Festival at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 14-27 August 2017 at 16:25 @ Omnitorium. For more details check here!

For our friends in London, he’s also doing a preview run of shows at Ovalhouse 27-29 July 2017. Details here!