Meet Jonny: teacher, father and football fan. He’s an artist, campaigner, and deaf. He wishes he could sing and loves to dance, but he can’t hear the music unless the bass is loud. Jonny grew up in a hearing family, surrounded by fear of the stigma of disability. This one-man show tells Jonny’s moving, funny story of disconnection, difference and desperation to belong and is a starkly honest portrayal of a man seemingly confident, outgoing and popular, who is inwardly vulnerable and, at times, isolated. In a hearing world Jonny is different. Gareth Clark from the theatre group, Mr and Mrs Clark spoke with The Fountain about the show, Louder Is Not Always Clearer, as well as their plans for August.
TF: You are performing at the Edinburgh Fringe this year, how exciting?
Yes… very excited to be back at the fringe. We’ve been doing them every other year since 2012 as it’s a little easier on the body and the bank balance. This year we are bringing an all new creative team who have never performed at the fringe and we are really excited about sharing Louder Is Not Always Clearer and seeing lots of other great work with them. It is such a treat to fully immerse ourselves in so much great creativity and share collectively in the fringe experience. This year we are part of This Is Wales showcase supported by Arts Council Wales and also part of the British Council Edinburgh Showcase.
TF: Louder Is Not Always Clearer certainly sounds intriguing, what is the premise?
Louder Is Not Always Clearer is the story of Jonny Cotsen. Jonny, who performs in the show, is a father, an activist, an artist and a music lover. Jonny is deaf and Louder Is Not Always Clearer is very much him sharing his experiences of a hearing world and his desire to connect. It’s a familiar tale to deaf audience and funny and moving experience for a hearing audience. It is fully accessible with the use of creative captions, spoken English and some BSL.
TF: And what drove the project, where did your influences lie?
Mr and Mrs Clark have been making theatre influenced by their surroundings for many years. Gareth, the artistic director, met Jonny 20 years ago whilst travelling through Egypt. Their friendship was cemented with their love of theatre, visual arts and football. Jonny was keen to make a show about the experience of deaf people but did not think he would be the one on stage. Gareth encouraged him to tell his story from his perspective and Louder Is Not Always Clearer became a study of his pursuit for acceptance. We can promise you a unique experience even at the fringe where there are so many forms of theatre.
TF: What are your plans for the Fringe, having been before are there any tips or musts you would offer to first-time performers?
There are always great shows to find whilst at Edinburgh. Finding a gem of your own is very satisfying and looking beyond the critics choice is important. The fringe is a long haul if like us you are there for the whole month… taking care of yourself is essential. Eat well, take rest when you can and take time to see and support other peoples work. We have made lasting friendships with some great people that we have met in queues to meet the press, shared venues with or just loved their work. This is invaluable and can be a great blues buster if the fringe is getting you down. i think it’s important to know that you are not alone because sometimes it can be a very lonely place.
TF: And what are your future plans beyond Louder Is Not Always Clearer?
We are touring Louder Is Not Always Clearer in Autumn 2019 and Spring 2020. We creatively produce our own projects throughout the year and we are working with Dino Rovaretti on a new performance about separating… leaving… or staying. It’s in it’s early stages and is taking global stories and personal experiences and mixing them up.
You can see Louder Is Not Always Clearer at Summerhall from 3rd – 25th August at 14:30. For tickets, please visit www.edfringe.com