It is August which only means one thing – it is Camden Fringe time! Over the next few weeks we are chatting to acts that are performing at the festival and finding all about their show and what they would call this years iconic Camden Fringe Pigeon! Today we speak to Rev. David William Parry about the show The Grammar of Witchcraft
Date: 10th, 11th, 12th, 13th August
Price: £15 Concession £10
Location: Etcetera Theatre
Ticket Link: https://camden.ssboxoffice.com/events/the-grammar-of-witchcraft-by-david-parry/
Hello! Tell us about yourself?
Gosh, where do I start? Anyway, I am Rev. Dr David William Parry, who has the deep honour of being the Pastor and Founder of London’s only openly-queer Independent Catholic chapel as well as being a reasonably well-known poet and performer. Additionally, I am an advocate and long-term activist for LGBTQIA+ rights (going all the way back to Gay Liberation Front), as well as being an advocate of queer culture, practicing Anthroposophist, Shakespearean and an unapologetic Christian anarchist.
How did you come up with the name of your show that you’re taking to the Camden fringe?
Overall, this is a project wherein I am closely collaborating with the acclaimed Russian impresario, Victor Sobchak, as a co-producer. In which case, I seem to recall Victor deciding that we should take the title from my second collection of poems, The Grammar of Witchcraft, as a way of focusing our energies on the adventures of Shakespeare’s Caliban as a magical misfit. Indeed, my journey into drama started with my original collection, Caliban’s Redemption, although after a few years had passed I felt that the character, Caliban, hadn’t really reached his goals either in terms of poetry or stagecraft. Indeed, I class myself as a theatrical poet and not the type that writes verses to be read over a polite cup of tea.
Tell us a little bit about your style of show?
Two of my greatest influences are Felix Barrett and August Strindberg, the latter of which is equally interested in transgression, challenge and delight. Stated so, we are not aiming simply to entertain our audiences, but challenge their inherited gender perceptions, transphobia, and the limiting norms that have impaled the LGBTQIA+ community for far too long. As such, we want a relatively immersive production without clear lines drawn between performers and audiences, whilst simultaneously leading our visitors into understanding why theatre can be many things and not merely an amusement. All in all, we are retracting the steps of chamber theatre in order to create a spiritual laboratory during this week of our run at the Camden Fringe Festival.
What will your set be about?
Our set follows the footsteps of Caliban from a lesbian wedding in Liverpool back to the City of London, which he is no longer sure even exists. Hence, this is a modern version of a spiritual, occult and surreal odyssey, which seeks to closely examine his thoughts and motives, not to mention his aims beyond human rights. In this sense, it is a psychodrama with elements of an unrepentant magical humanism.
What other acts are you looking forward to seeing at the fringe?
I am particularly looking forward to watching The Jokes Saved My Soul by Harmon Leon, since anyone involved in theatre is aware of the paranoia existing between the proposed perfection of a stage performance and real-life existing outside of any show. Also, I am looking forward to watching Columbia March, because a number of my relatives are of Irish descent, have lived through the recent Troubles and are never certain themselves whether the political crimes of the past can be resolved in the present. All in all, my partner and I will be booking tickets to these shows as soon as possible.
What advice would you give to others who want to perform at Camden Fringe next year?
Overall, to have a very clear vision of the type of production they hope to stage as well as the determination to never be discouraged by minor setbacks. Certainly, when dealing with the entirety of a festival, it can be quite daunting to envisage the place and purpose of one’s own work amid the clear excellence of surrounding shows. However, as a Man of Faith, I should stress new contributors need to keep faith in their own work and the overall good will of audiences in this marvellous celebration of the theatrical arts. So, just raise the curtain, stand your ground and get stuck in.
What are your favourite things about London?
When I first moved to London in the early 1980s, this city was really “something”. It had uniquely British features, a sense of enduring history and a fast array of opportunities for people either passing through or trying to establish themselves in the metropolis to gain a new and better life. Sadly, many of these excellent attributes have disappeared, although I would argue they have been replaced with a far greater sense of minority rights, a sensitivity towards different communities and a genuine revolution in artistic expression. The only caveat I would add is that the level of theatrical openings needs to keep pace with a hugely multicultural, inclusive enrichment offered to British stagecraft by communities who no longer present audiences with superficial tasters of their culture, but much deeper performances presenting parallel worlds to anything European as well as highly energising alternative uses of the imagination.
What are your three favourite things about Camden?
All in all, I have always loved Camden and used to use Theatro Technis for some of my own productions. Indeed, we staged Shakespeare Tonight by Paul Wilson at this venue a few years ago to packed audiences. Apart from that, I love the market and still go there with my husband on shopping expeditions whenever the occasion arises . Lastly, I quite like the lively pub scene across Camden and enjoy the clash of political spheres and ideas that takes place inside these bastions of British drinking culture. Everything considered, I remain a true fan of Camden and the avant-garde elite that live in this area.
Favourite one liner you have done in a show and why?
My favourite one liner is actually from H. G. Wells’ film script, The Man Who Could Work Miracles, whereby the character who has been given supernatural abilities is challenged by a fellow drinker in their local pub by the annoying phrase, “so you say”. As such, I have found myself using this comedic line in a number of settings usually to do with poetry slams and performances, while its sheer potency in getting up people’s noses makes it a gift to humankind.
Who would be your ultimate dream audience member?
Taken together, I hope our show is welcoming to everybody intrigued by the potentials of British theatre and takes an interest in LGBTQIA+ issues as they are played out in our society. In which case, I suppose my idealised audience member would be a long-haired Wagnerian, who just happens to live in a student squat on a council estate with enough money to understand theatricals need to live as well as the true enchantment offered by magick, psychodrama, and the depths of soul, which can be reached in an entertaining way. Stated so, this is only one type of idealised audience member and I can also imagine a gigantic range of weird and wonderful people who can gain benefit by spending an hour of their time in worlds composed of alchemical transformation, personal evolution and the sheer joy of life in our contemporary age.
The iconic image of the Camden Fringe is the Pigeon – if you could call this years pigeon a name to represent its style what would it be and why?
I would like to name this year’s pigeon Hattie the Mad Trans-hatter, since this would convey a sense of humour and fun around topics, which are nonetheless serious. To be honest, I have never understood why British theatre-goers always appear to adopt a po-faced attitude to serious and demanding content as though they are somehow treating these materials with extra levels of attention. Consummately, this is never the case and I would prefer our audiences laughing, hissing, booing, cheering and rapturously clapping their hands at the way we have placed our staged witchcraft before them.
If people want to find out more about you where can they follow you on social media?
Firstly, our maestro, Victor Sobchak, and his company, Theatre Collection, can be found via this website, https://theatrecollection.net, whereas I personally can be contacted through my own website, www.DavidWilliamParry.com. Additionally, I hope people will find us on TikTok, Instagram and Facebook (@dparry777) where both Victor and I are well-known for bouncing around new ideas and thought-experiments.
And Finally in three words – Why should people come and see the show?
Brutal, Sexy, Divine
Categories: Camden Fringe Festival 2022, Interview, Theatre
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