Q&A | Harry Walker, Performer
1/ Was it your intention, before Choke Me, to get into this experimental postdramatic and political performance work?
I certainly wanted to do an experimental piece of theatre – I think some of the most memorable performances are ones that bend the rules, or what is considered ‘the norm’. I absolutely wanted to work on something to do with environmental issues. This aspect of the project really drew me to it.
2/ Do you get bored easily? Tell us about it.
I found the whole process exciting, but the closest I ever got to boredom was perhaps towards the end of rehearsals when we were still experimenting with movement pieces. Sarah is very intelligent when it comes to piecing together physical performances and I enjoyed working with her – I just would have felt a bit more content if we had things set in stone sooner. But then again, freedom to explore is a must and it all came together in the end!
3/ What inspired you to move in this direction; and join Doppelgangster for the Choke Me project?
I watched Doppelganster’s Cold War and was really taken by it. I enjoyed not knowing what the hell was going on and imposing my own ideas on the work, which was full of its own great symbolic and allegorical ideas. This really drew me in, and being picked out of the audience for a segment made it even more immersive for me personally. It was a no brainer to take up this opportunity to perform with the company – I really hope there’s another opportunity to down the line.
4/ The show was rated 14+ and advertised as not being family friendly. Did you ask your family to come anyway? Was it a strictly adult affair?
I did ask my family and some friends to come, but they are all grown ups! I do feel it is more of an adult affair. The connotations (mainly with the title) and subjects addressed are too edgy for children, though I feel the messages regarding climate change and pollution are universal. Maybe Doppelganster can create a child friendly piece in the future? Or maybe you can leave the job of educating them on the environment to primary schools, and keep the work tonally consistent. Your pick Tom and Tobias!
5/ What are your thoughts about the experience of making this independent work (Choke Me!)
Absolutely loved it. I am really proud of the work we did. The use of headphones and microphones, costume and makeup, and the specially built set was all very exciting to me. I feel like I challenged myself physically and vocally as a performer, and highly enjoyed being a high energy and mysterious part of the high energy and mysterious production. 5 out of 5 stars on Tripadvisor.
6/ We’re known for site-specific work that borders on protest, Choke Me was in a theatre. Do you think the theatre can be a site of protest?
Absolutely. For theatre, one way or another, can mould itself into anything, can it not? The mics and sound help with protesting too.
7/ You’ve just finished your first performance season with Doppelgangster. Do you have any stand out memories of the live shows?
Performing Choke Me (the song) night after night and being out of breath afterwards was quite enthralling. As was telling the story about the goat – I was so pleased when I got that bit. But something that really struck a chord was a moment of stillness: when we all lay dead at the end of the play. Even performing it made me feel the reality that if we don’t act on pollution, we are all going to kick the bucket, perhaps more so than watching it would, because I was living it while on stage. Having said that, I really hope that ending sticks out in at least one member of the audience, and that our best efforts to make a cool theatre production have enacted even the tiniest bit of positive change.