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Two Super Super Hot Men, Alan and Ron Answer Questions About Their Show

[Photo credit: Adapt]

An interview with Alice Boyd and Rosa Garland, the award-winning theatre makers behind Two Super Super Hot Men, a clown show about; climate change, middle-aged foley artists Alan and Ron, and a plant called Carol. You can catch the show at VAULT Festival (13th and 14th March) and Brighton Fringe (1st to 3rd May).

Grace Nicol: Ice breaker alert: Who are Alan and Ron?

Alice Boyd and Rosa Garland: Alan and Ron are our new comedy clown characters. They are loveable buffoons who are a bit late to the party when it comes to issues with a capital ‘I’. They spend their days working as foley artists, creating noises out of strange objects in order to soundtrack films. However, in our new show Two Super Super Hot Men, something strange is going on, and it seems to be getting in the way of their beloved routine (foley, tea, water the plant, repeat).

As they set out to work on a climate documentary, they can’t ignore the rising temperature in their studio. There’s sand in the kettle and the milk has gone off. The question is, how long can they go before they need to change? Can they go on like this forever?

Alan and Ron were born on a trip to a vintage shop in Edinburgh. There we were, browsing the aisles, when out jumped the most outrageous Hawaiian shirts we had ever seen . . . the rest was history. All we needed next were cargo trousers, some black eyeliner to draw on our (very handsome) moustaches, and Alan’s infamous sandals.

We looked to our favourite TV shows for inspiration, keeping an eye out for duos that we think are hilarious. Some of our favourites include Stath and Al from ‘Stath Lets Flats’, Kerry and Kurtan from ‘This Country’, and Spongebob and Patrick . . . need we say more?

We knew we wanted to make a show about the climate crisis, and we found it interesting exploring this from the viewpoint of the people who would be least affected by it. As middle-aged men living in the UK, Alan and Ron are going to avoid the worst effects of the issue. We wanted to think about how an issue so devastating, but intangible, could be understood by these characters.

Comedy is a really important communication tool, and when it comes to serious topics, laughter can be just the communal activity needed to relieve tension. Through drag, we are able to explore the issue of climate change in a way that is accessible, non-judgemental and (hopefully) pant-wettingly hilarious.

Grace: It definitely sounds like it’s going to be pant-wettingly hilarious, has this shift in identity as characters and theatre makers had an effect on your work?

Alice and Rosa: Our previous work together has been with Poltergeist. Our shows, Lights Over Tesco Car Park and Art Heist have worked really well for audiences of all ages, being playful, while having a strong intellectual core.

From this previous experience, we were really keen to try something as a duo, pushing ourselves to be sillier and more political (an oxymoron perhaps . . . but a welcome challenge). Throughout the process, we have been getting to know how we work together as collaborators, while also developing new skills, such as clowning. As artistic directors of the project, we are also learning that it takes a lot of hard work to put on a show, however, we’re loving the journey.

[Photo credit: Adapt]

Grace: And speaking of that journey and all the things you are up to, you also performed Two Super Super Hot Men for the XR extinction underground event. With a show about climate politics, this seems maybe an obvious fit, but what are your personal relationships to the movement?

Alice and Rosa: The XR ‘Extinction Underground’ event was a late-night party at VAULT Festival, with over 80 artists responding to the climate crisis. It was a fantastic opportunity to perform alongside like-minded artists, such as Robert Sheehan and Edwin Congreave from Foals. Personally, the climate movement is incredibly important to us. In 2019, Alice started Staging Change, an organisation which supports artists and venues to respond to the climate crisis. Rosa has been involved in XR protests with a deep respect for their movement, and will be getting more heavily involved this year. For both of us, we have been finding ways for our work to communicate the importance of climate action, whether that be through shows, workshops or campaigns.

We also really recognise the need for the environmental movement to continue to reach new audiences and to amplify the voices of people who are often sidelined. For us, this means taking Alan and Ron to spaces beyond the theatre, whether that means the streets, festivals or online, to try and communicate the issue to a wider range of people, in a way that makes them laugh.

We have always felt most affected by art that can make us laugh, even if discussing something political or serious. There’s something about laughter that signals an acceptance of complexity; when it comes to the climate crisis, we’re navigating a web of anxieties, false information, blurry futures and conflicting answers. Laughter is the perfect way to help our audiences relieve tension around this pandora’s box of issues, without ignoring its presence. Equally, it isn’t prescriptive and it doesn’t tell them exactly what to think. Our aim is to galvanise people through a shared experience, laughing and taking ownership of our collective responsibility, turning anxiety into action!

It’s amazing how much climate-themed work is appearing in theatre at the moment; now is a brilliant time to be joining this conversation. We recognise the deep importance of shows that explore the darkness we are all facing and hope that our contribution is one that provides some relief and community without downplaying the gravity of our situation.

Grace: You spoke about amplifying voices that are often sidelined and you work in a female-led collaborative environment. Why is this important?

Alice and Rosa: It’s really important to us as artists that we uplift and make space for other women’s voices in our work. The show plays with gender and power structures (in this case, who has more power to live in blissful ignorance), so it was crucial from the start that the primary voices on this project were non-male.

While the vision for the show is ultimately ours as a duo, having different voices in the rehearsal room has been completely eye-opening and given us lots to play with. Each time we work with a collaborator, we take care to centre their voice when they are with us in the room. This both keeps us on our toes and keeps the power structures as horizontal as possible! The show would be completely different were it not for all the different approaches and voices that have shaped the process.

Grace: And lastly, if you could send a message to the Alan and Ron’s of the world, what would it be?

Alice and Rosa: To those who find it difficult to imagine breaking our habits, who feel that accepting the enormity of this situation is just too much: we see you, and understand! You are much more powerful than you think. On your own, you may just be an Alan or a Ron. But imagine if you all grouped together, Hawaiian shirts and all, and stood outside the Houses of Parliament and shouted, ‘we are the Alan and Rons of the world, and we demand climate action!!!’ There is no way they couldn’t listen.

Alan and Ron: www.alanandron.com | @alanandron

Alan and Ron: Two Super Super Hot Men
13th-14th March
Studio, The Vaults, Leake Street
Info and tickets: vaultfestival.com

[Photo credit: Adapt]

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