Annie Wilson (and her Bastard persona) were kind enough to answer a few questions about the origins and inspiration for At Home with the Humorless Bastard. Enjoy her (their) responses below!
FA: Do you remember where you were when you came up with the title, At home with the Humorless Bastard? Was there a particular inspiration?
ANNIE: I don’t.
I came up with the title three years ago, so I don’t know or care what the initial inspiration was, haha. For me the title is in relationship now to a certain aspect of myself that comes out in dire moments. But it is also in relationship to a sense of security, danger, seriousness.
Actually, that’s probably not true. I set out to make a piece that wasn’t funny. My relationship to humor is fundamental, and I wanted to see what I would make if I put a simple but powerful restriction on my choreography. So far I’ve failed every time, but it’s still a generative question.
THE BASTARD: Who cares where titles come from they’re almost always the worst part of a piece of art
FA: What do you see as your main source material for this show? And how has that bent its way into the performance?
ANNIE: Water, waterfalls, wombs, grief, gravity, glitter, charles manson, chaos, the olympics, natural disasters, encephalopathy, ambition, guilt, shame, violence, relational aesthetics, the politics of mental illness, heroin, brain swelling, cell death, menstruation, banshees, scotland, keening, booze, magic, money, the eagles, tribalism, erica’s sports bar, gentrification, hopelessness, despair, “sexy nihilism”, spatial anything, reproduction, representation, poststructuralism, the cuisine in hospitals, and Death: The Musical.
I am putting all of that together and mashing them through the spaghetti strainer of my body. Then I’m taking the mashed-out result and laying it out in time and space, with and through an audience.
THE BASTARD: In short, imagine all the stupid shit a white middle class woman would get insomnia over, and that’s what the piece is. Imagine an angsty 16 year old who really loves Rachmaninoff because his music is so maudlin. Now imagine that 16 year old is 30, she is terrified of her body wearing down, and people around her keep dying and she can’t control any of it and has feelings about it. That’s basically the piece.
FA: What will the performance consist of?
ANNIE: There is a dynamic set that gets constructed and torn apart throughout the course of the piece. There is a short video element, but no projections. There is glitter every goddamn where.
I am the only performer, but audience members will certainly become set pieces and stand ins for extra performers.
THE BASTARD: Imagine how you would furnish a darker corner of your heart. Imagine how you would furnish a room for someone that has brain damage and will never even be able to comprehend décor ever again; but you have to visit them on a regular basis so put a painting of a flower up, goddammit, we can’t have things be so glum in here, what are we just going to wallow in our feelings? I’m the only performer but I’ll be joined, as always, by the army of dead people that I love.
FA: As a performer, what does the audience become for you when you are onstage? Do they take on a role for the show?
ANNIE: I generally hate pieces that involve audience participation, and yet I always literally include the audience when I’m making a solo. Partially that’s because I can’t be interesting for an entire evening. Part of it is that I get to turn a mirror on the audience. I think solos are the place where I get to rewrite social rules, just a little. To hopefully encounter each other and ourselves in a slightly different way.
That said, I tend to use folks as set design. So the most that I ask an audience to do is walk somewhere on stage, stand somewhere on stage, and look at something onstage. And maybe participate in a guided meditation through your darker self. So it’s not like, “hey we’re all gonna get up and do something embarrassing.” It’s more like, I’m doing the embarrassing stuff, you’re watching me from the upstage left corner of the stage. That said, we might all sing together.
THE BASTARD: I wrote a song one time and the only lyrics are: “I’m just a middle class white person, talking about middle class white problems, making art for middle class white people, so they can come and go ‘huh.’” I would say that’s about how I can describe my relationship to the audience. It’ll be a big circle jerk where we get to feel “deep” for 60 minutes, either in the appreciation of the piece or in our ability to rip it apart critically, which won’t be difficult to do. So the piece will really boost everyone’s egos by making them feel smart for being able to rip it apart. It’s my little gift to Fringe audiences who like to think they are in any way edgy or experimental or thoughtful.
FA: What do you anticipate that you will be fine-tuning for this show—or what are the things that you feel are most important to work out between now and the performances?
THE BASTARD: I hope to destroy the piece moments before the premiere.
Thanks Annie! You too, Bastard.
At Home with the Humorless Bastard runs at FringeArts December 1-3. Tickets and more information here.