When I saw the lineup for this year’s Fringe festival, the first thought that came to mind was “look how many performers are back!” Of the 45 companies, fully half are returning for a second, third or even fourth time around; what’s more, half of those are from outside London. I’m always curious to learn more of the ideas and thought processes that go into making theatre, so I asked a few of the folks from away to talk about coming back to London.
Appropriately first up is Detroit’s Tommy Nugent, whose posters for Burning Man & the Reverend Nuge started appearing way back in April.
- Theatre in London.ca: It’s your third London Fringe Festival in a row; why this one, and why so often?
- Tommy Nugent: London Fringe feels like my “hometown” fringe (foreign country and all — ha). I’ve made really close friends here over the last couple years, and I probably come up to hang out a half dozen or so times a year. I feel a special connection to the town, particularly her arts community.
- TiL: Is there a progression (or regression?) in the shows you’ve brought to the festival, Burning Man Redux in 2008, The Magician Reverend Nuge in 2009, and now Burning Man & the Reverend Nuge and American Bad Ass in London?
- TN: Burning Man & the Reverend Nuge is the renamed remount of Redux — same show, but I’m about 30 performances better at it now. It’s my feel-good touring show (though it does turn on the most disappointing moment of my life), Magician was my darker counterpoint to the Burning Man show, a “What if?” tragedy — what if I hadn’t turned my life around a couple years ago? What would have happened to the character I was becoming? I really “went there” mentally and emotionally for that show and it was kinda rough… but it led to some really interesting experiences in London and those experiences led to a brand new script — American Bad Ass in London, a comedic monologue about my London adventures. I think it’s a fitting finale to my London Reverend Nuge trilogy.
- TiL: You described your activities at this year’s festival—Burning Man, American Bad Ass, magic during La Petite Nuit Blanche, and Rev Gone Rogue in Film-on-the-Fringe—as a “full court press”; all you’re missing is having some artwork in the Visual Fringe! Why the “go big or go home” approach?
TN: Visual Fringe?! Dammit! Thought I had it covered!
Cuz I am going home… or most likely, to Ottawa next year. This is my last London Fringe for a while and I want to go out strong. My “let-the-crowds-come-to-me” approach bit me in the ass last year. So I’m gonna go get ’em this time. The Burning Man show made its touring debut here, and having run it two of three years, I don’t imagine I’ll put it up again. I’m really proud of it and I want people to see it…especially people in the town that’s been so important to me personally and professionally.