We’re kicking off this month’s performer interview series by having a chat with Rosie Kohl and George Collie, the delightful duo behind Gimcrack Productions, masters of neo-vaudeville and all things morbid. Don’t forget that you can catch Gimcrack at Luscious Cabaret on Friday, November 4th!
1. What’s the ideal way for you to start your day?
Rosie: I struggle with my energy levels during the day if I wake up before 8am as I’m quite a night owl. Ideally I’ll be up and moving by 8:30, have a cup of tea and spend the first hour of my day quietly thinking, waking up and maybe doing ‘morning pages’ (three or more pages of free-writing). I need at least 2 cups of tea before I feel human! Then either I get cracking on my admin, or head to a trapeze class to get myself moving for the day. I’m not a fan of breakfast but brunch is possibly my favourite meal, so something healthy and protein-based at about 11am really sets me up to work both physically and mentally. Of course, this isn’t always possible and I usually end up frantically replying to emails and messages from my phone in bed as soon as I wake up, which is something I’d really like to try to improve on as I doubt it’s particularly healthy…
George: With a big, luxurious breakfast in bed and a few episodes of Archer… That said, some days I want to leap out of bed, go for a run, practice my ukulele skills and clean the house before 9am rolls around.
2. How do you come up with a new act or routine? What does that creative process look like?
Both: Usually we have a concept in mind, or we’ve been reading something that has inspired us, or we try to think of creative ways to interpret something seasonal. Or sometimes the show theme has set off a light bulb in the ideas part of both of our brains! Then we do a LOT of research. Lots of reading around our chosen idea, watching films and youtube videos, listening to lots of music, going to galleries and exhibits and making notes, collecting as much information that might add to the piece as possible. During this ‘collection’ phase we also tend to scribble down ideas and talk to each other about moments or images we have come up with. Then, once we’ve marinaded in our research and discussed it all (which can take anything from a week to six months depending on the act!) we write out a structure of the piece, do some creative exercises (post-its start appearing and covering the walls…) and figure out which sections we need to work on together or individually, elements that go together, references we want to make, finalise our music choices and work on any sound editing we might need to prepare etc. Finally we try to string it all together, run it, polish it, add or take away things that do or don’t work once it’s on its feet, and then practise til it’s stage ready!
3. Where – or for whom – would you most like to perform one day?
George: I’d love to take the stage at The Minack Theatre in Cornwall – it’s an extraordinary-looking space and would make a hell of a backing for production photos. Or to compere a show at the London Wonderground Spiegeltent. That place is great.
As to whom I’d like to perform to – my ideal front row in a small theatre space: London’s foremost acting agents, all in very very good moods. But failing that: Brian Blessed, Bill Murray, Veronica Cartwright, Tom Waits, Tina Fey, Terrence Malick, Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart as long as they were hugging and holding hands throughout. But wow, I’d better do a pretty extraordinary performance for that lot…
Rosie: I would love to have a show somewhere really unusual, like in an abandoned Victorian theatre or that amazing theatre that got turned into a library. Or at Wilton’s Music Hall, that place is stunning and there is so much history there.
4. Favourite guilty pleasure?
Rosie: Playing The Sims 3. It’s a real stress-buster and I find it oddly soothing when I am feeling burned out to immerse myself in a very non-threatening imaginary world that I can control for a few hours (yes I am aware it is a ridiculous game but sometimes I need to turn my brain off!)
George: I HAVE NO GUILT! I’ve learned not to feel guilty about enjoying myself, whatever that enjoyment may be. I play lots of video games, obsess about Dungeons and Dragons, and play the same songs to myself on the ukulele up to forty times in a row. I’m a huge big nerd and I love Game of Thrones and The Walking Dead and everything else you might expect from such a man.
5. Tell us about the most embarrassing moment that you’ve had while performing.
George: I put a show on at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival several years ago. I shall not mention its name, the name of the venue, the name of my fellow performers or the names of the three reviewers who all (correctly) gave it one star. If I could rewrite history, it never would’ve happened…
Rosie: Theatre A-Level dress rehearsal. My costume got stuck and basically pulled my pants down (including knickers) whilst onstage, which means I mooned the entire audience. Which was made up of my teachers and students from the year below, and some parents. It was awful. But it didn’t happen in the performance – I made damn sure of that!
6. Do you have any hidden talents?
Rosie: Crochet! I am a dab hand at making hats, handwarmers and blankets. And I can cross one eye… does that count?
George: I’m pretty good at Dungeons & Dragons, if that helps! But generally all my talents are well and truly on display…
I’m a pretty good bowler, though. Not many people know that.
7. What would you be doing with your life if you weren’t performing?
George: Not a clue – I’m reluctant to answer because it would have to be a completely different me. But perhaps running an independent cinema, running cinematic marathons, like a solid three days of films in which Sean Bean dies nobly. Stuff like that. I’d have the most unfeasible selection of popcorn flavours available to man…
Rosie: My ‘backup’ career choice is as a funeral celebrant, or psychotherapist. I’m fascinated by people and the stories we tell about ourselves and each other in life and death.
8. Give us a teaser for what we can expect from you at Luscious Cabaret…
Both: Silent movie silliness!
*photo credits to Andrew Tottenham