Tim Kemp: Did you ever imagine you’d start your own company?
Curly Fries: Oh god that’s an interesting question. When I was younger I always fantasized about having a Shakespeare company that was contemporary. But then, the more I got into acting, and acting school, it was seen that Shakespeare or classic verse was ‘daggy’ or ‘not that exciting’. So, I steered away from it even though I really liked it. Looking back now there was a real push at acting school (or maybe actually something that the students put on themselves) that we would be working in the popular culture and Shakespeare wasn’t part of that. It was only last year when I got really pissed off with the situation that I
decided to use Shakespeare as a way of making some sort of connection and use political theatre. ‘The leftovers’ was born. I can’t imagine my life without it and our team behind it.
If you had an infinite budget what would change about the way you make work?
Definitely I’d want to pay my actors triple the award rate because what they give me and the collective, apart from their time and their work, what they give me is their artistry which has no price. I’ve always been totally blown away by the sheer magnitude and interpretation of the work. I would hope to one day be able to give the artists that. I would probably also have a fancier set. Haha! I don’t know maybe not…actually, maybe not. Actually, definitely not. AND – it will always be free to the public.
How many business calls have you taken dressed as a clown doctor?
… erm …Probably each round I’m a clown doctor, and they can range from 1-3 a week. So maybe about 1 call per shift, 5 texts and a couple of emails. The funny thing is having that clown nose on me during those calls gives me a different way of treating the business. It gives me a different slant on it. It reminds me of the bigger picture. The hospital is really great for that. Every time I come out of the hospital after entertaining the patients (children) I’m just so grateful that I have what I have.
Could a Leftovers’ experiment ever be a failure in your eyes, if so, how?
Absolutely. Part of our manifesto is that our experiment can fail. And each experiment sometimes turns a certain way. It can go from looking at the body to ownership of art in one experiment which was a total surprise for us. It can go from a piece about language becoming a piece about guilt of Australian culture, again a total surprise. It can go from a Jacobean ‘who-dunnit’ to questioning the need for gender binary identification. So, each work experiment morphs into something. I used to be scared of failure and now I totally embrace it because it means that we, the artists and the audience, all learnt something together. So, you could say that potentially every experiment thus far has been an absolute failure – and success.
Encounter My Heart was inspired by an execution. How do you separate your own opinions from your experiments to ask unbiased questions?
You need a really pretty fucking good team behind you. You need people that are not afraid of taking your idea, ripping it up and throwing it on the floor in front of your feet. I have a handful of exquisite artists that I trust implicitly with my artistic life. Anytime I have an idea, especially with this last one, Encounter My Heart, I take it to them and I ask them for the honest authentic and visceral response. It is the team behind the yellow ‘X’ that does make the work fair, unbiased and experiential. It is them. Wholly it is them.
Curly Fries: We were at dinner once and I said, “take a seat…” You said, “I am.” What’s it like being so tall?
Tim Kemp: I thought that was a joke. I can’t believe that’s one of your 5 questions you absolutely gorgeous fool of a man. At 6ft 1 I’m hardly especially tall? You’re the kind of person that would waste a Genie in a Bottle. To try to take it seriously, one thing that I had to learn at ACA was that you can be big and have good intentions. People will read that and not fear you. I came to Sydney with a lot of baggage from Newcastle as a footballer – that I’d be identified as a thug. It was a kind of self-fulling prophecy because I was so physically guarded it read as stand-offish? To summarise – I think my biggest journey at acting school was learning to be comfortable in my own body.
Why do you work for The Leftovers Collective?
I mean there’s a whole a series of reasons why I do work for the leftovers collective. I think my major motivator is your respect for individual artistry. If I help you make a promotional video, or a document or devise with you on a show, it’s a true collaboration and the product is something I’m proud of. I feel agency and I’m actually more proud of how much we throw away in our artmaking. The objective of the works are always to ask a question and we make sure that we do that.
Encounter My Heart deals with confessions, do you have something small you’d like to
I’m a fiddler. Anytime I’m thinking deeply my hands are busy. I think in all honesty it was a very lame attempt to be cool at 16. Showing off to the ladies my speed records for 3×3 and 4×4 cubes. It is still a great icebreaker though.
Does the strong nature of our work concern you?
In a word no. To take Adonis Procedure for example – our provocations were Greek ideals of beauty and how we still subscribe so much worth to those physical ideals. Yet the night was a carnival of fake cash and glamour and laughter. It wasn’t until AFTER the experiment was over that we talked about the questions the work brought up. People were allowed to experience the work without judgement. I think that’s the key. I think we’re interested in witnessing a true response to our works – ugly, beautiful or indifferent. We’re not at all interested in making a judgement or a statement on those responses.
What’s your take on the conviction, trial and execution of Myu and Andrew?
I think in true “Leftovers’ fashion – I’m unsure. I don’t think there is a simple answer. It is a question of humanity and mercy. Also I understand the fear that leads a community to be uncompromising. It’s a search for security. I think there’s nothing to be gained by vilifying either side. I think the tragedy is sometimes there’s no right answer to a moral dilemma.
Catch Curly Fries and Tim Kemp in Encounter My Heart.
Dates: 21 – 29 Apr, 2017
Venue: The Two Wolves, Broadway