‘Two blokes in an office’ – what was the attraction? Where did the idea begin?
What’s not to love about two blokes in an office? Do you think 3 blokes would be better? We’d have to change a lot of choreography so think carefully before you answer…
We didn’t begin with the office idea. We started with the myth of Icarus and his father Daedalus, wax wings and all that. Except we found a second part of the Daedalus story where he retires to an island as a famous inventor. His nephew Perdix is also an inventor and, as it turns out, a slightly better one. So Daedalus pushes him off a cliff. We thought that was pretty cool.
The office came in later as a solid place to begin a poetic look at masculinity and ageing. The real starting point is Josh and I. I’m old. In dancer years I’m like Jean Claude suspended between those two trucks. You watch him. Maybe you think it’s admirable but you are also thinking something is going to pop, probably a hip joint. Josh is much younger than me and has vitality on his side. The way those observations made us feel, and the experiences of our two bodies undergoing extreme risk, is at the core of the piece. The alpha male fiction falls away and reveals the two of us tied together.
Did you draw on your own or friends experiences for the piece? Or even the TV show The Office?
We love The Office (yes English version) but we have no illusions that we’re as clever or as funny as that. But how could you not think of David Brent when you are trying to be an arsehole older guy in an office, trying to keep the next generation in line? It’s definitely there in the mix, but we don’t reference anything directly, we just have influences. They’re inside when we create, you don’t even really have to think about it, they just emerge of their own volition.
Humour is important in this work and happened naturally through improvisations that went on for hours. A lot of the work was distilled out of them. We did the research, watched movies, listened to old man songs from the seventies, talked about our fathers and then just got going.
The piece has been said to pit ‘aspects of maleness under the microscope’. Tell us a little bit about how you’ve explored that and how it manifested in your movement/performance
We started with the simple idea of a power play and the moment in time when the power shifts. That moment holds everything, like a prism fracturing light. On the other side of it are redundancy, triumph, despair, compassion, disgust, comedy. On and on. One moment that shows the complexity of the human experience and the way we inter-relate.
I think the Josh’s experience in this exchange is really interesting and I always think about playing tennis against my father as a teenager. I wanted to beat him but when it happened I was appalled and triumphant at the same time. I knew there was no going back. The next time would be easier and the time after that, easier again. Time moves forward and once that step is taken there’s no turning it around. The clock is ticking and you’re next in line.