London Horror Festival 2021
Whilst clearing out his parents’ attic, Chazz Redhead found a mysterious box. Inside was abandoned notes and research from a long forgotten ancestor. His discoveries seem unbelievable, but soon things beyond scientific explanation begin to occur.
Hi Chazz thank you for talking to The New Current, how have you been holding up during these very strange times?
As well as anyone can. The important thing was to try and stay both busy and sociable during the lockdowns. I may not have done as much writing as I promised myself, but I knew what day of the week it was which is a victory in itself. Overall, I’ve been doing good.
Has this time provided you with any new creative inspiration or opportunities?
The thing that really saved me was Twitch. Doing streams of strange things with friends allowed me to fire up the creative instincts and make something silly with wonderful people. And on top of that, with so many home studio set-ups, I did manage to put out 2 episodes of a podcast recorded completely remotely.
What does it mean to you to be bringing your debut show Bespectacle to the London Horror Festival 2021, will there be any nerves ahead of your run?
It means the world. I’ve performed at LHF before, but a solo show is a whole different beast. It feels very fitting. The last time I performed this show was at Vault 2020, and the very next week everything shut down. So there’s a symmetry in returning to solo performing with the same show. I am incredibly nervous! All that memorizing of lines I had is completely gone. And I can’t even blame the writers because that’s also my fault (I could try to blame my co-writer Georgia, but I’m pretty sure she’d kill me).
Can you tell me a little bit about Bespectacle, what was it about this mysterious box that inspired this solo show?
Bespectacle came from two specific passions: horror and character comedy. I asked myself would it be possible to do a character comedy show without really intense costume changes, so the idea of different pairs of glasses played into it, then came the question ‘why would glasses mean you’re a different person?’ and the more supernatural mysteries of the framing device came into play. From there it was easy to build up a mythos.
As for the box, definitively the hardest prop to get. You know exactly the type of thing you’re after but it’s hard to put into words. I think we’ve nailed it, though. It’s a great box. The real star of the show in many ways.
What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing Bespectacle to the stage?
The biggest challenges I faced were the hurdles I put up for myself. Just the act of walking out on stage to perform is a risk, and I thought I could mitigate it by tweaking and re-writing rather than just actually doing it. While I’m a fan of horror, that fear of risk held me back for a long time. I’m glad Georgia was there to steady the ship.
Bespectacle is co-written and directed by Georgia House, what has this experience been like working together on this production?
Me and Georgia have known each other for a very long time (coming up on 10 years) and with that kind of relationship there’s no need for subtlety. She can tell me very bluntly when something isn’t working. And when you’ve spent days obsessing over a single line and its place in the wider narrative you do need someone to say “this isn’t funny” so you can get on with actually making the show. Her directing has been invaluable in both the micro and the macro. Getting me out of my flat and into the rehearsal room can be a Sisyphean task at times. Her comedic eye is incredible and I’m very blessed to work with her.
How much has your background with the Dirty White Boys help prepare you for writing Bespectacle?
Working in a sketch act definitely helped me in the development of Bespectacle. Not just the collaborative nature of it, but also because in sketch you have to create a setting and character near instantaneously. Comedy and Horror have very similar beats and rhythms, which is why I think they blend together so well.
Have you always had a passion for theatre?
Very much so. I really caught the bug when I was 16 and it just kept going from there. I maybe went a bit over the top at uni (52 productions over 4 years) but I’ve calmed down since then. These days, alongside my comedy performing, I’m much more comfortable doing sound design and my passion for theatre helps guide me in that work, from one-man-shows to big immersive productions.
"...I realised that maybe audiences wouldn’t be overly interested in it for now, so I switched to an idea I had for pure silliness via soundscapes, combining my love of comedy and sound design."
Now that you've got your debut solo horror show in the bag what's next, is there any other theatre genre you're interested in?
My partner made sure I write a list of all of my ideas to hold onto and I come back to that list very frequently to remind myself what sparks my imagination. During lockdown, I attempted to write my second show, which would be a pastiche of a Kaiju film with a heavy emotional core to it (to challenge myself with producing genuine pathos). As the lockdown dragged on, I realised that maybe audiences wouldn’t be overly interested in it for now, so I switched to an idea I had for pure silliness via soundscapes, combining my love of comedy and sound design. I’m excited to see where it leads me.
What's the best piece of advice you would offer fellow writers?
I know the “keep writing” advice is cliché but it’s really as simple as that. But I would love to add “keep putting things out there”. I know it’s absolutely terrifying to put your work out (and I have some particularly poisonous 2 star reviews to show for it) but it’s essential for development. Step into the light. Grow in the sun.
And, finally, what do you hope your audiences will take away from Bespectacle?
Two key things:
“that was very funny”.
“that was a lot spookier than I expected”.
The show is very much a ghost train; some scares and a lot of silliness, and I hope people go for it. I’m excited to share the show with people again.