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INTERVIEW: BRYONY KIMMINGS ON HER LATEST WORK 7 DAY DRUNK

Bryony Kimmings is NOT an alcoholic. But she has always had a rocky relationship with booze. It seems the dark stuff is intrinsically linked to her confidence as an artist as well as to blame for her most genius and most hideous creations. So says the outline of Bryony's latest show 7 Day Drunk, which hits the Soho Theatre from the 13th - 31st of March. Her last major show, Sex Idiot, won the Total Theatre Award, and this one has so far been getting rave reviews as it tours the country. We caught up with Bryony to ask her some probing questions on the development of her work, alcohol, and that time she got a bit fighty...

 

RR: Hey Bryony, what have you been doing today? HONESTLY please!

BK: I had a BBC Radio Manchester Interview this morning. Then I came into my office at the Junction in Cambridge and ploughed through a shedload of admin. Now I am working on some show bits- I am adding in a song and a nice bit of magic.

 

RR:For the last year or so you've mostly been thinking about drinking. Can you pinpoint exactly when your latest piece of work decided to be about this?

BK: Winter 2010. I was on a bit of an Edinburgh comedown, I was drinking a fair bit in my studio with a case of writers block and I began to think about the links between creativity and alcohol. Then in spring 2011 I ended up living with someone with a drinking problem and this compounded the morbid fascination.

 

RR: On all of your promotional material it first and foremost states 'Bryony Kimmings is NOT an alcoholic' - were you worried that people would perceive you as such?

BK: I didn’t want it to be a show about alcoholism, although there is a through line of this subject naturally. I wanted it to be clear that this is a show about why and how it is acceptable for artists to drink and get high but not all humans.

 

RR: Even as a non-alcoholic, how much do other people's opinions of your subject matter, and you, affect the course your work takes? 

BK: Hmmm it’s a tough question. I guess a lot and not at all at the same time. I chose my subject because of a personal fascination with a very social question. I think the subject matter I chose is very universal and purposefully so. I want everyone else to connect with the question and get hooked on it to. Its not for everyone, but if everyone I had ever known said they hated the idea I probably wouldn’t make the show. Gotta trust public opinion on these things.

 

RR: Alastair Campbell did a feature with Panorama about alcoholism in the ‘professional classes’ last week.  What are your thoughts on alcoholism as a social disease, within the Art world, and perhaps greater society? 

BK: I am truly of the school of thought that alcoholism is a physiological not psychological disease. Having known many addicts in my lifetime I can firmly say that it isn’t society that makes people form relationships with certain substances it’s the physics and biomedical make up of their DNA. Our society allows us to drink, this perhaps makes it easier to feed your alcohol habit or function. In the Art world I feel that there is also an expectation to be a wild-card, an oddball and a rebel… so I see lots of young artists living what they believe is the lifestyle of an artist, that involves drugs and drink BUT again this is different to alcoholism. This is a piece of social theatre they are all starring in. This is the dangerous and fascinating element for me.

 

RR: Do you find yourself self-censoring? Does this helps weed out the rubbish, or does it block good stuff?

BK: I don’t self-censor but I hope to god that I have a good cheese-o-meter (saying that word out loud proves that I probably don’t). I say what is on my mind. I make the point I would make at a dinner table or down the pub. People trust me to speak to blatent truth, I think that’s why people like my work… so if I went around self-censoring I think people would see me for just a skirt with a keyboard! My next show is about positive role models for young adults… I am going to try and become one… warts and all. Literally.

 

RR: You have been developing this show for a long time, how do you find the audience reacts to it? Has that changed as the show has evolved?

BK: I think the audience are frightened, then happy, then regretful and then ready to rave… but with a twinge of guilt and selfdoubt. Well that’s what I intend with the show. It changes here and there yes. I have a bank of work created during the 7 day experiment that I can use and I find myself swapping and changing (much to the annoyance of my technician!) when things feel a little flat or that I am not getting something across.

RR: You've been on quite a journey to find your way as an artist, from cabaret style group shows in working men's clubs, to audio performances and one to one pieces, to winning the Total Theatre Award. How do you feel most comfortable communicating with an audience?

BK: I go through phases. I generally love the thing I am making at the time I am making it. I am very happy with existing in a world where I can make music, 1-2-1 work, full shows, magazines and radio shows… I have a strong need to be flexible, free and to try new things… so I just make sure you can tell its my work whether its in a gallery, on the side of a bus or at a music festival… that way I can keep having love affairs with different forms. I am bang into little conceptual cabaret works at the moment… going back to my roots yeah!

 

RR: Your last major show was Sex Idiot, this is 7 Day Drunk, are you fascinated by vices? 

BK: Nope. I think its more taboos that annoy me or things that are getting on my nerves and making me shout at people. I don’t always make work about vices… I also make work about my family, my old estate, space-ship shaped restaurants. But its always autobiographical and the last two times I have been consumed with vice based subjects when someone asked me to make a show!

 

RR: What's your favourite vice? Go on, tell us a scandalous story! 

BK: I don’t know if its my favourite but I think if we are looking at things in a zen way my main vice is anger. I seem like such a nice girl (?) most of the time. But if you cross me, I don’t deal with it very well. I am a bit of a punchy, throwy, screamy lady. I once threw a bottle at the huge tv in a club when the world cup wasn’t going our way. Now I am older I think, fingers crossed for all involved, I am getting better! I think I am also slightly avarice focused too. Which I find pretty dirty.

 

RR: Do you already know what your next work will be about, or will you find that out as you develop it? 

BK: I am working on the very-very early stages of it at present. Its not going to be ready until Edinburgh 2013, so its just a seed. But as I said its about the lack of positive female role models. Its got a working title of Likeable, Credible, Superstar Role Model. I really like the idea, that after I made a show about STI’s and my relationship to Booze, that I should try to become such a thing. I worry about my little niece growing up in a world where she is told she must look a certain way, or god-forbid act a certain way, to get ahead in life. I feel like going head-to-head against Disney, Katy Perry and the TOWIE clan to see if we can’t make a difference here!

 

RR: Why should the good people of London come and see 7 Day Drunk at the Soho Theatre?

BK: Its not everyday you watch a member of the audience get drunk in a controlled binge, snog a stranger on stage and rave on your seats in the theatre. Come along because it will be uber-fun, sobering and interesting all at the same time. And if you like clothes you will love what David Curtis Ring, my wonderful costume designer made with me while I was drunk. And if you like film well there is some of that too. Plus some silly songs from me.
 

Bryony Kimmings Presents
7 Day Drunk
Soho Theatre, London 13th - 31st March 2012