Ferment Fortnight kicks off its biannual explosion of work-in-progress and scratch performances from 24 Jan. Here, Justin Cliffe gives us a sneak peek at his production TigerFace. Catch it on our stage, Wed 24 Jan.
Tell us a bit about yourself…
I’m a South Wales based Theatre Maker involved in the devising, writing and performance phases of theatre and live art; making work as an individual, a co-collaborator and as part of Tin Shed Theatre Co.
When creating stuff I tend to lean towards unhinged, unkempt acts of joy and revelry that explore the small pockets of madness in our reality. I often end up making work that is both autobiographical and fictional, or hypothetical and actual or important and pointless. I make live work because I like not knowing exactly what is about to happen, so there’s a lot of that energy too.
What are you presenting at Ferment Fortnight?
I’m presenting a piece of work called TigerFace, which is really the name of the central character, but it’s also an idea, but is also really just me. Part kids TV show, part quarter-life-crisis-screaming-at-your-own-reflection-upon-waking-up-dripping-with-milk-in-the-middle-of-your-kitchen-naked-wondering-what-just-happened-in-the-fleeting-moment-between-being-9-and-30, I want to explore expectation vs reality, adulthood vs childhood, because when I grew up I didn’t think I’d be a man dressed up as a tiger dancing on a stage.
What inspired/influenced your piece?
An actual job I did where I had to dress up as a tiger and have my photograph taken with children. The photographer caught a picture of me on my break and it’s both hilarious and heart breaking, it captures this gut-wrenching gulf between happy tiger and miserable adult. The show is about that moment.
Now I’ve taken the idea into performance, it’s become more clown like in a way. Snatching inspiration from many places; from Andy Kaufman, to the kids TV I grew up on. It’s been a bit like putting vaudeville in a blender with Get Your Own Back.
What does the work that Ferment do mean to you?
I’ve been an artist and worked under the umbrella of Ferment three times now on various projects, but this is the first time I’m developing solo work. For me it is the opportunity to flex a more fully formed idea. TigerFace has existed almost exclusively in backroom bars, as part of cabaret, or scratch nights. Ferment offers me this amazing opportunity to develop something chunkier and more meaningful, with the support of the Bristol Old Vic and the team behind Ferment.
I’m lucky enough to be receiving a sort term residency from The Riverfront in Newport too, and matching opportunities like this with the performance platform of Ferment is an amazing opportunity for an artist like me.
What would you say the audience can expect in three words?
Optimistic joyful nihilism. Or Haha. Umm. Oh…
Ferment Fortnight takes place at Bristol Old Vic 24-25 Jan before moving across the city to Watershed and Loco Klu from 26 Jan-3 Feb. For more info and to book tickets, click here.