The Director of Get the Chance, Guy O’Donnell recently got the chance to chat to Charlie Hammond. Charlie spent time training in Cardiff and was one of our Young Critics. We discussed his career to date, Me Me Me’s current production ‘Clonely’ and the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.
Hi Charlie can you give our readers some background information on yourself please?
Sure, I am an actor and theatre-maker based in the North-West. I create a lot of physical, visual, and chaotic performances. I borrow heavily from clown and physical comedy, and I have trained with various clowning and physical practitioners, in particular Philippe Gaulier, who is regarded as a leading practitioner in clown and performance training. His school is near Paris. I have also worked closely with director Cal McCrystal, who I learnt a great deal about directing and performance from whilst acting as associate director for Giffords Circus. Giffords are a traditional 1930’s style circus who create intimate performances which tour largely in the South-West of England. Originally I studied English Literature at Cardiff University, and spent a large amount of my time being involved with the artistic community in Cardiff, including writing for the Young Critics.
So what got you interested in the arts?
Just everyday culture really. Growing up my parents watching a lot of comedy, Red Dwarf, the Young Ones, that kind of seminal alternative comedy, and I absorbed a lot of that. And then the high school I attended had very good arts facilities and that really started my interest in performing, and I did a lot of singing in chamber choirs and a barbershop choir, theatre productions and musicals. I also always felt that the arts was actually something I always found challenging, where as more traditionally academic subjects like mathematics and science came a little bit easier to me.
Thanks Charlie, can you tell us about the work your company is taking to this Edinburgh Festival Fringe?
So, our show Clonely is a sci-fi adventure in existential crisis, a blend of bulls**t arthouse theatre with nonsense games and DIY props.
Our company, Me Me Me Theatre, strive to poke fun at the avant-garde, science fiction cinema, the audience, and crucially, ourselves. It’s a mixture of theatre, sketch comedy and audience interaction that blends together into a surreal and anarchic hour long show about space and being a clone.
Me Me Me is made up of myself, and writer-performer Jasmine Chatfield, who recently won a Northern Writers Award 2017, and produces and excellent art event in Manchester called FLIM NITE. We started working together this year, and have set out to make the kind of weird and funny work that we would like to see on stage. Closely runs Friday 4th to Sunday 27th August (Mondays off):, Laughing Horse Free Fringe at The Mockingbird, 2.45 (1 hr).
The festival features a huge range of productions and there is great deal of competition for audiences, why should audiences come and see your production?
To support the free fringe and new work. But if you are interested in weird comedy, with sci-fi elements which doesn’t take itself too seriously then you should watch our show. We are very proud of it, and really feel that it captures the best of free fringe. I mean and also the Scotsman gave us 4 stars, which we were pretty chuffed about, and called us ‘gifted physical comedians’, so there’s that as well!
What would you recommend seeing from this years festival?
Butt Kapinski’s film-noir show is one of the best pieces of clown which really plays into its concept and gets the audience on board. I love Red Bastard, and his new show Come Lie with Me is a very interesting and electric dissection of the rules of love. Jordan Brooke’s Body of Work is a fantastic show; it’s just transferred to the Pleasance Courtyard and is a masterpiece in audience manipulation. But that’s just the few I’ve been able to see.
What do the artists and companies do when they aren’t performing?
Anything to pay the bills! It differs from person to person. Most artists hold down a couple of days a week doing a steady job, some work full-time and balance creative opportunities on top of that. I am very fortunate as I currently work pretty much full-time as a performer, but I also run workshops and do various little jobs to make extra cash. But when I say full time a lot of that time is spent making work, which tends to be a labour of love.
And finally what’s the best Fringe show you’ve ever seen?
Couldn’t pin it down to one. You assign so much weight to a type of show you’ve seen for the first time. John-Luke Robert’s work has always been memorable for me, he was my first introduction into a very different type of comedy and show. The Alternative Comedy Memorial Society has always been one of my favourite shows to visit to see something totally different. I remember rating NTW ‘The Radicalisation of Bradley manning’ as a powerful and mesmerising performance. But then it might have to be A Young Man Dressed as a Gorilla Dressed as an Old Man Sits in a Rocking Chair for 56 Minutes and Then Leaves, which is exactly what is says on the tin as is for one-night only, and represents the fringe perfectly.