See THE VERY BIG BIRD by Mads Clove at #CTF2017!
CTF: Why do you make experimental performance?
I can spend a lot of energy trying to be a ‘normal human’. Hiding the super-weirdo within is pretty tiring, and I don’t think it’s just this way for me – all humans have a constantly shifting, elemental vitality that often gets packed away daily into ‘normality’. Experimental performance can facilitate release from this – you can move however you want, break into song, be totally in your own imaginary world one minute and have a chuckle with the audience the next minute. And if I can train and allow my body and expression flow more freely between ways of being, I can give audiences some space to ease their own habitual constrictions.
CTF: How did the story of ‘The Well-To- Do Woman and the Very Large Bird’ originate?
I had been thinking a lot about how perfectly groomed and largely dis-empowered women are taught to be in our society. And then the Well-To- Do-Woman and the Very Large Bird were born while I was absent-mindedly doodling on the train. I wrote a story about them in tiny dot pointed notes that curled and around the sides of the illustration because I felt like if I turned the page I’d lose the spark of the story. I did a rough showing of this developing story together with a dance, and it was received as a cute comedic piece. But after the performance I felt heaviness and grief inside about how the themes I was presenting affected me and others I knew, and I wasn’t satisfied with the piece being seen only as cute and fluffy. I’ve been working since then on dipping into the deeper resonances of the work, while keeping its sense of buoyancy.
CTF: A highlight of developing and/or performing this work so far?
I got quite a shock when the puppets started talking in the story. They were more like static dolls to begin with, and then I found that they started telling their own part of the story and I was frankly terrified because as a performer I feared I wouldn’t be up to the challenge. But I was also excited because they were pretty funny. And I knew it would be much more interesting for the audience for them to have their own voices. And that performer-me usually figures out a way to do it, if writer-me thinks it’s important.
CTF: What are three words/phrases that describe your body of work?
It’s a mix of a lot of influences and art forms, but often it’s like children’s folk-tales have grown up, grown legs and teeth, and started to consume and digest the rest of the library.
CTF: What can audiences expect?
To me it feels like a fairly delicate kind of piece. It’s quite personal though the characters live a very long arm’s length away. It’s kind of like a mirror that distorts and swirls colours and shapes while also reflecting some of the ridiculousness of how we look in our current setting. A lot of colour, some laughs, some ridiculous but satisfying dancing.
CTF: Have you been to Crack Theatre Festival before? Is there a little pearl of a memory you can share with us that marks that experience as distinctly CTF?
Last year I performed a short performance art piece at Hysteria, curated by Gracie Partridge. It involved me having honey dripping down my head. I chatted stickily to audience members and bathroom-goers alike as I attempted to clean myself up, and I greatly appreciated that everybody talked about the piece itself and not how I could have thought through the logistics a little more before getting myself covered in honey.

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