In our latest blog, Gareth Clark talks about their evolution in creating a solo show about fear, which resulted in (F.E.A.R.).
I have been reading the original script for (F.E.A.R.). It was first developed in 2015 with the theatre director Agnieszka Blonska. We spent time working on it near her home of Mousehole in Cornwall, often punctuating the devising process with a brisk coastal walk. We dug into my memories and I wrote and improvised ideas based around my childhood and teenage years. I was surprised at what emerged and felt in some way released by the opportunity to voice these thoughts. However despite the progress we made, however slow or rapid, I remember feeling incapable of delivering a one man show.
It’s here that I find myself again some three years later. The show has been performed over 40 times, it’s last outing was a springtime performance in Prague, and yet I feel this familiar reticence when approaching this performance piece. Things have undoubtedly changed in the three years that have passed. In 2015 I could only imagine what might happen in 2016 and what did happen felt far greater and more divisive than anything I envisaged. The world is a different place, isn’t it? The fears over the UK’s european exit seem to intensify daily, the rhetoric between leaders across the globe seems more explosive and I have reached the age of 50. It seems that it happened all of a sudden, although I admit there were obvious warnings. Everything is different and everything is dangerous.
In those early days working so closely with Agnieszka I felt able to relay some of my engrained resistance to failure. Her incredible and intense working methodology questioned every thing I did. Her sensitivity and utter despair of the state of the world inspired us back then to write this piece. (Now we can barely speak without deep incredulous sighs and grunts of disapproval at what appears to be happening.) Yet there I was wrapped up in doubt and feeling shame for what I was about to try and do.
What triggers my fear is an ongoing question. What fear looks like is another issue. I am not a quivering wreck. I often stand in front of hundreds of people and perform, act up and expose all sorts of character traits, all be it masked in some way. In Edinburgh one blog writer, who reviewed (F.E.A.R.), seemed to question whether a white, middle aged man’s fears were really relevant. I wondered that too. However I always trusted Agnieszka. She often referred to the fact that no man talks about what he’s afraid of and certainly no one from privilege (white, middle aged privilege that is) seemed to openly share his perceived failings.
I love the work of Bryony Kimmings and her autobiographical shows that openly talk about taboo subjects. She often introduces her shows with a reference suggesting that although the subject matter maybe heavy the performance forms will be engaging, because no one goes to the theatre to have a shit time. Well here I am telling you that (F.E.A.R.) is a one man show, and I am going to tell you everything I am afraid of, and at times it can be funny, at times it’s revealing and sometimes I feel like telling you is the most important thing I can do, because I think your afraid of the same things and if we can admit it then we can know we are not alone.
I have been watching as people spell out their fears on social media. I realise that fear generates a need to have an opinion and a stance. I think fear often stops us seeing all of the truth and the conflict fear creates is apparent on our screens and in our newspapers. I have started to wonder if I can stand up to my fears, or recognise what they are. I contemplate whether I can at least deal with the conflict that goes on within me. If I can do that then I think I might be able to address some of the conflict that goes on elsewhere. It’s an interesting show to perform this one. I have had so many emails and messages of support from people that have been to watch and if I am short of confidence then this is what I try to remember. So here I am… in rehearsal once again and waiting to tell you something I think you should know. I hope you can make it. Having written this I’m afraid it might put you off… it is such a prominent feeling.
(F.E.A.R.) is on tour
The Lyric Bridport – 10/11 October
Cardiff and Vale College – 15 October (afternoon matinee performance only)
Camden Peoples Theatre, London – 19/20 October
Theatre Shop, Clevedon – 8 November