Never did I ever expect that one of the most pivotal moments of my practice thus far would come whilst doing a staged reading of 50 Shades of Grey with my face painted like a frog. It’s funny how things work out….
Our current Research and Development project (NEVER HAVE YOU EVER, 2017) involves us wildly undertaking a series of tasks and experiments, suggested by our dear friends and colleagues, of things that they believe we have ‘never done’. It is true, I have never had my face painted like an animal for a day and I have never read 50 Shades to an audience. But I can now proudly hold my head high and say YES. I’ve done it. When we received instruction to complete this dramatic reading, we were immediately attracted to the idea. Of course, it makes complete sense. We are three British, white, slightly awkward, yet hideously polite individuals and so the thought of reading out naughty words to a small invited audience would be, in our minds, HILARIOUS.
Almost on cue, the mere mention of a certain Mr Grey’s “Red Room of Pain” sent us into fits of uncontrollable giggles. Perhaps this was the time of day, admittedly the ‘performance’ came at the end of a particularly tiring one (Stroking Alpaca’s really takes it out of you). Regardless, I began to question exactly why this was or more to the point, why exactly we are choosing to do this at all.
Did we find this funny because our faces happened to be painted like animals? Or was it because we were reading erotica to an audience of 5? Maybe we’ll never know. But I couldn’t help but feel that this was an audience invited purely to watch us make each other laugh. If the point of this whole experiment is to delve into the unknown and to step out of our respective comfort zones, I would say this was an example of us not adhering to that. As I sat there reading the infamous chapter 18, I was firmly locked within the thick cushioned walls of my comfort zone. I was having a nice time. I was relaxed, yet confident. And I adopted my default: desperately attempting to raise a smile from all those watching me. On this occasion, it took the form of different voices and ridiculing the text throughout; complete with wry smile.
This task and realisation has come before we begin any practical devising work. So this is merely a warning for myself. To be wary of my own humour. The in-joke, it turns out, is not always transferable. As a company whose initial aim is to create something “funny”, this will no doubt be a point of constant interrogation. How can these comedic decisions manifest themselves without veering dangerously close to self-indulgence?