O No! is at the Old Fire Station on Friday 28 April. We asked Jamie Wood to tell us more about how he created the show…
My previous show to O No! is called Beating McEnroe. It revolves around a moment when I was 6 watching the Wimbledon final on TV with my family. I heard Grayson Perry on the radio say that he thought every artist was trying to reproduce a moment from their lives when they were happiest, so I asked myself what else I remembered from 1980. My mum came to collect me from my friend’s house. She arrived and announced the assassination of John Lennon, the two mums sobbed uncontrollably holding each other. I didn’t understand what had happened, but it left a lasting impression.
Avant-garde music night
I was in Liverpool and my friend invited me to a world music night above a pub. At the end of the night two Russians emptied a bag of, what appeared to be, useless stuff from their garage. They then proceeded to ‘play’ the objects whilst occasionally saying dah! in to a microphone. It was hypnotic and hilarious. At one point I remember looking around the room at the different people in the audience and the vast range of experiences people seemed to be having, some deeply moved, others rolling around with laughter and some appreciating the artistry. It made me question the different places laughter can come from.
I trained in clown originally with a French man called Philippe Gaulier. Over that month I saw people transform, and how I looked at people changed. Gaulier is an anarchist. He encourages people to strip away their society selves, to remember all they yearned for as children and to play.
Clown has become a liberating place where I am bigger and braver and more honest than I dare to be in real life. I believe we spend a lot of time trying not to look foolish in front of others. Clown is an opportunity to stop trying not to look foolish. Gaulier used to tell a story about why clowns were introduced in to the circus. He said it was to bridge the gap between the audience and the unbelievable virtuosity of the trapeze, high wire, acrobatic acts. The clowns reminded everybody of their humanness so that the audience could enjoy the seemingly inhuman skills of the other performers even more.
I wanted to create a bridge for people to connect with the avant-garde.
Retrospective of Yoko Ono
I went to see a Yoko Ono retrospective. As I walked around the gallery I became aware of the very serious atmosphere. I was interested in how it seemed to contradict the flavor and playfulness of the pieces themselves. I wondered where the seriousness was coming from.
I watched old television programs with John Lennon and Yoko Ono. After their famous protest ‘bed in’ for peace, John Lennon said that he didn’t mind if they were considered clowns so long as their message got heard.
So I set myself the task of making a clown show about avant-garde art – and then the secret bit that nobody knows is…that it’s also about love.
O No! – Friday 28 April, 7.30pm. Tickets: £12/£10 from www.oldfirestation.org.uk or 01865 263990.