An Interview with Adrian Berry
This August a certain play called ‘From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads’ shall be winging its way into the Edinburgh Fringe. The Mumble caught up with writer/director Adrian Berry for a wee chat
Hello Adrian, so where ya from & where ya at, geographically speaking?
From: Nottingham, where a folk legend taught us to steal from the rich and give to the poor, an ethos I still live by. At: Helsinki, sitting on a harbour, waiting to meet a circus performer. Clear blue sky, aggressive seagulls and a shrimp on rye sandwich – possibly why they’re so angry at me.
When did you first feel the pull of the dramatic arts?
I did the sound effects for The Dracula Spectacular on my Juno S60 synthesiser at school, aged 13. I bought it from my mum’s catalogue with my paper round money. I didn’t want to perform back then but loved making weird scary noises to back the show.
What for you makes a good piece of theatre?
Anything that breaks through that audience/artist divide, draws you in, makes you feel active as opposed to passive. Great stories, physicality, visceral energy, focus, heart. Not Chekhov or Ibsen. My absolute turns-offs. Bit unfair maybe, but I find that classicist stuff so dull.
What can you tell us about your role as Artistic Director of Jacksons Lane contemporary circus theatre?
I get to create exciting programs of circus, theatre, art, cabaret, and travel to thrilling places to bring artists to the UK. I have a wonderful team who love and support the work and live for it. And I love our quirky old building and the diversity of our audiences. I wake up inspired, for which I feel so lucky.
What do you like to do when you’re not being theatrical?
I play bass and write songs and sometimes tour in the band Alberteen, I cycle to random places, I explore London on foot, I listen obsessively to vinyl, currently 80s west coast hiphop, Angel Olsen and Finnish blues (as of last night when an artist gave me a record).
You will be bringing From Ibiza to the Norfolk Broads’ to Edinburgh this August, can you tell us about the play?
It’s three stories that converge – a tale of our capital city and things that are lost, about a boy with mental health problems who escapes through his fantasies, and the amazing birth, childhood and journey of David Bowie. It all comes together at the end, and people seem to love it, happily.
As a musician yourself, is the play somewhat autobiographical?
In parts, yes. Less so the Bowie bit as that came later in life, but the claustrophobic working class upbringing, escapism through glamorous androgynous pop stars and the excitement of music….yes there’s a lot of me in there for sure.
How does your own experience in the band Alberteen influence the play?
Oh you knew about us. Ummmm…no I cannot say there is a comparison. Well actually maybe there is, as me and the boys went to the same school and I joined an early version of Alberteen as a creative outlet aged 14. It was everything I wanted to be – I still feel the pull of the band, more and more so. Everything I write has a musical influence- it all gels as part of my creative life I guess.
What has been the typical audience response?
Tears, joy, gratitude, loss, letters, gifts, hugs…genuinely. 75 shows, so much love and words. I didn’t expect it.
In one sentence can you describe the experience of performing in Edinburgh in August
A total headf*** rollercoaster beautiful expensive experience.
What will you be doing after the Fringe?
Recording a new EP with Alberteen and playing a tour of seaside piers in forgotten English seaside towns, and thinking about my next show based on a famous American hotel.