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Fledgling Theatre on a great eccentric

24th April, 2019

Neck or Nothing is based on the true story of one of the great eccentrics, a man who had a terrible experience as a child with a grizzly bear and dedicated his entire life to building a suit – effectively a suit of armour – to confront his greatest fear. Fledgling Theatre's co-artistic director Callum Cameron told us more.

It's an astonishing story - how did the show come about?

It all began when we saw the incredible documentary Project Grizzly, all about the life of Canadian inventor Troy Hurtubise. Inspired by what we saw, we began developing the piece with a series of performers and the support of several theatres, including Greenwich.

The initial shows we created as a company were larger, physical ensemble shows with up to 12 or 15 actors. To create these shows we often relied on a lot of devised work that came from the actors, so the script had a lot of different voices telling one story.

These shows were quite epic and exciting but often quite difficult to maintain. Then with They Built It. No One Came., we came up with the idea of left-field shows, having spent some time looking for unique characters and quirky stories.

I wrote the script with my own quirky sense of humour, which I think opened up a style that as a company we could really embrace. The reason we work so well together is because we can have a laugh, so it seemed obvious that we should be bringing more of that approach to our work.

Was Fledgling surprised by the success of They Built it. No one came.?

We really enjoyed the run at Greenwich. The audiences were so warm and up for seeing something a bit different so that really made our jobs a lot easier. We had no idea how we would be received, having not performed there before, so it meant a lot to us as a developing company to have such a successful season.

It even spurred on a national tour, so we are hoping that the Greenwich audience will enjoy Neck or Nothing just as much as they did They Built It. No One Came.

After the performance on Thursday 9 May you're holding a Q&A session for CALMzone (Campaign Against Living Miserably). How does that connect?

Neck or Nothing tackles a lot of big issues surrounding male mental health, so we thought it was important to continue the discussion with anyone who is interested in the show or the subject.

The season is a registered CALMzone event and we will be collecting for the charity as well as doing the Q&A. Men’s mental health is an important topic and we have had a really interesting time researching and exploring it. We’re hoping to use the Q&A to increase awareness and share what we have learnt working on this show.

We’re also really pleased that the Arts Council are supporting the show. We hope we have created something that deals with a really important subject matter in a unique and different way, so we’re incredibly grateful for the support they’ve given us.

Is there another offbeat show in the pipeline?

Well, we have been focusing all of our energy on making Neck or Nothing the best show it can be but we always keep our eyes peeled for any interesting stories or characters! We are just really excited to be coming back to such a great theatre with such supportive and receptive audiences.

Neck or Nothing plays from 7-11 May. Find out more and book tickets here.