No Kids: An interview with Ad Infinitum

No Kids is a personal exploration by real-life couple and co-artistic directors of the award-winning Ad Infinitum, staging a theatrical debate asking: as a gay couple, should we go out of our way to reproduce?  The show is a preview performance before going to the Edinburgh Fringe this summer. Co-director George Mann tells us about the process of putting together the show and what he is looking forward to about the Edinburgh Fringe this summer. 

Where and how did the idea for the show No Kids come from?

Nir and I are not only the co-artistic directors of our company, Ad Infinitum (formerly Theatre Ad Infinitum), we’re also a couple who live together.  For years Nir has talked about wanting to have children, and for years we discussed it – but I always assumed it would never happen. But a lot has changed, and laws have changed, and so have we: so, two years ago when Nir not only wanted to discuss having kids, but said, why don’t we make a show about whether we should have kids or not…? I had my apprehensions, but I was also excited.

How much research and development goes into making each Ad Infinitum show and what does the process involve?

A lot! We have spent months, sometimes years, researching, discussing and thinking about each project – before we even green light it, we consider whether it should be an AI show or not. We’re passionate about socio-political theatre making and giving voice to the unheard or marginalised – so the story and themes are important - and we’re just as impassioned when it comes to our audiences

How important is the feedback process in constructing a show particularly before going on tour?

Theatre is all about the exchange between the live on-stage event and the ephemeral community that witnesses it. We put our shows through a rigorous process placing our audience at the heart of it. Over 12-15 weeks staggered across 12-18 months we slowly build our productions and open up our rehearsals to test the unfinished work in front of live audiences. It’s scary but always worth it. There may be 6-9 sharings in each creative process, and we ask the public: what did you think? What didn’t you understand? What could be better?  We use this feedback to inform our process and incorporate our renewed thinking into the theatre-making.We can’t wait to begin our preview season kicking off with the Corn Exchange 12th July!  We’re going to learn so much from the audience about the piece as it begins to take on a life of its own.

Do you have particular ways of generating material for the show?

At the start, improvisation is the key. After all the research, thinking, reading and imagining – you get into a room and its empty: if you want something to happen you have to make it happen. It’s always challenging at the start – with a clean slate, a few ideas to cling to, but not much else. But usually, out of the chaos of our rehearsal room research we find something exciting, something that works, a style or medium through which we could tell our story. And then begins a process of improvisation, followed by writing, constructing scenes, developing a narrative arc, and asking ourselves – what do we want to say with this piece of theatre?

What should audiences expect from the show?

For us, each story we tell requires a style all of its own. Because of this, we have always insisted on finding a new style for each production, so each show we make is completely different. It was hard to communicate to our audiences at first: after Translunar Paradise in 2011 you could easily see us as a mask and mime company making non-verbal work; after Ballad of the Burning Star in 2013 you might think we’re all about drag and cabaret. But in fact, we enjoy learning how to create the style and finding the right way to tell a story because the way you tell a story can give it so much power. So, I’m not lying when I say that No Kids is not like any of our other shows! For a start, Nir and I are both on stage (a first in our company’s 11-year history!), there’s dance, new writing, comedy, movement, gender bending musical numbers, and verbatim storytelling – all blending to form a production that examines our journey looking at whether or not we should have kids, and how we might do it. It’s a real rollercoaster of emotions.

How long are you going to be at the Edinburgh Fringe and what excites you most about being at the Fringe?

We’re going to world premiere No Kids 1st – 27th August 2018, we’ll be performing every day at 15.40 at Pleasance Forth in the Pleasance Courtyard (except 8, 13, 21 Aug) – and we can’t wait! The most exciting thing about the fringe is the chaos of it all – the unexpected that always catches you by surprise, whether that’s an amazing piece of theatre you’d never thought you’d see, or someone’s surprising reaction to your own show – it’s in the highs and lows, the uplifting generosity of the audiences, and the moments of escape when you find yourself on Arthurs Seat breathing in the stunning views. Exhausting and overwhelming as it can be, there’s nothing quite like the Edinburgh Festival Fringe…

Using Ad Infinitum's signature style of physical theatre, cabaret, and verbatim stories No Kids, a preview performance will be on Thu 12 July.  Find out more here.    

No Kids has been selected by What's On Stage as one of their ten shows to catch before they get to the Edinburgh Fringe.  Find out more here