21 November 2010
A unique solo performance by Pete Edwards - telling the story of a gay, disabled man in search of his heart’s desire. Produced in association with Graeae Theatre Company.
Artists' statement by writer/ performer Pete Edwards
Fat was first created as a ten-minute solo performance on Missing Piece 4, Graeae Theatre’s nine-month performer training programme in 2004-05. I was asked to perform it again at London Metropolitan University’s 'Problems and Mysteries' conference in May 2005.
I then remounted it for one evening at the Cockpit Theatre’s 'Theatre in the Pound' in January 2006. In April 2008, I was invited by Francis Alexander and Leibniz (Helen Spackman/Ernst Fischer) to perform Fat at the Chelsea Theatre as part of 'The Book of Blood: Human Rites in the Sacred' performance series.
The work was extremely well received wherever it has been performed. I believe this is because people respond to the core issues of the piece and to my unique performance style. In 2007, I was accepted on a Writernet/Graeae sponsored mentorship for performer/writers. My mentor was live artist Robert Pacitti. Under Robert’s mentorship, I began to expand and develop Fat.
A further development day occurred as part of Graeae’s 'Playlabs' series in July 2008. I led the artistic team consisting of a director, videographer, PowerPoint artist and vocal coach, as well as a second actor (for voice and text exploration). I was able to do rewrites, explore in depth the role of video and projection for both artistic and functional communication, and take further risks in challenging myself as a physical and vocal performer.
In May 2009, I expanded Fat to a 50-minute version that premiered at Oval House Theatre for three performances. In developing this version, I gathered an exciting artistic team including director Michael Achtman, movement designer Athina Valha, voice coach Alex Bulmer, sound designer Tom Gibbs, set and lighting designer Ian Scott and video designers Caglar Kimyoncu and Zeynep Dagli.
The response to the Oval House performances was fantastic. The matinee performance was followed by a stimulating post-show discussion, chaired by Manick Govinda from Artsadmin.
“A strange and wonderfully different kind of performance… balletic and operatic. It goes well beyond a performance about disability, or even about desire. Extraordinarily beautiful.” Ernst Fischer, Live Artist and Creative Research Fellow
“An extraordinary performer who carefully entices the audience into his personal and political world. Pete’s command of language and his unique
performance style gives us the space and time to question the essence of communication.”
Jenny Sealey, Artistic Director, Graeae Theatre Company
Fat is a multi-media exploration of a gay disabled man’s desire, sexuality and urge to communicate. The innovative use of projection and sound effects sets the scene for James’ fantasy journey, travelling naked amidst the backdrop of London’s South Bank.
Fat tells the surreal and humorous story of his burning desire to meet a fat man. The story unfolds, stopping at landmarks, telling bizarre and poignant anecdotes. One of Shakespeare’s sonnets is interspersed throughout the performance, juxtaposing it with James' differing speech pattern, exploring issues surrounding language and communication.
Fat challenges society’s view of attractiveness and sexual fantasy. It places the sexuality of a disabled man at the heart of the story and dispels the myth that physically disabled people are not sexual beings. It challenges perceptions of communication and the right to communicate.
I have a differing speech pattern as a result of cerebral palsy. Through my involvement in performing arts with Graeae and Robert Pacitti, I have come to embrace text and the spoken word as an important and valuable part of my work.
Fat represents further investigation into methods of communicating my speech using recorded and projected text as well as my own natural voice for communicating different segments of the piece. I have explored a wide range of movement, working with a choreographer to develop a movement vocabulary specific to my own body, working with my natural movement patterns.
Modes of communication with regard to a differing speech pattern and a body which has a unique way of moving are both aspects of work that are rarely explored in contemporary performance. Fat candidly reveals the inner thoughts, dreams and fantasies of someone rarely encountered in contemporary culture.
The visibility of the work is crucial to inform, challenge and to entertain an audience who would probably never expect this of me if they saw me in the street. Fat gives me the opportunity to say I am the man in the street but I am also a disabled artist.
The opportunity to collaborate with a dedicated team of professional artists has consolidated the process I have been part of for five years and brings skill and expertise to create a stunning visual feast. The collaborators are people with whom I am developing ongoing artistic relationships.
Following the Oval House performances, there will be a UK tour of festivals and live art/theatre venues in the UK, to bring Fat to a wider audience.
Go to the Filmpro website for more information about FAT