Brief Encounter with... BLAM!'s Kristján Ingimarsson
Scandinavian physical theatre company Neander are bringing their acclaimed show BLAM! to the Peacock Theatre from 22 October to 16 November following a successful run in Edinburgh. We talk to creator Kristján Ingimarsson.
Tell us a bit about BLAM!
I originally had the idea of creating a show which played with film and comic-book archetypes. BLAM! is the game we play and it's about the joy of playing. The idea of setting the action in an office came second – from the notion of finding an environment everyone could relate to. I wanted to take something as simple as an office and then switch it all around. It gives people an opportunity to see we can change anything. When I was a kid in Iceland we would play with everything. A sheep's jawbone would become a gun… that is how we grew up. Anything can be anything.
What was the inspiration for the show?
The physical language of action movies inspires me – their ‘larger-than-life' way of thinking and their limitless creativity. Movies have a world of their own where things happen in slow motion, death is always spectacular; you get the girl and save the world. I just wondered what would happen if people allowed themselves to step into this world once in a while, during their 9-5 jobs.
Have you had experience of a dull office job?
Absolutely! 75% of my work as the boss of my theatre company Neander is office work and 95% of that is dull! I'm constantly trying to change that. Most people work in a kind of office, even artists and performers. Everybody is sitting down staring at their computers. Our working space has been compromised so much; it is so impersonal, but people just accept it.
The show is very physical - do you have a warm up routine?
Each of the performers has their own warm-up routine. I do a very improvised mix of stretch-push-dance-jump kind of warm-up and a bit of yoga. Then we do a very physical, secret ritual just before we start the show. It is called: Gnub!
Have you ever had any mishaps onstage?
There have been no big accidents or injuries. We have had our fair share of bruises and blue marks but they usually happen during rehearsals or some ridiculous wardrobe pranks. The show is very tightly choreographed and we take good care of each other.
Has the production changed at all for its move to London?
There are no major changes but we are constantly working on details, making it better and better. It is a privilege to be able to do that, it keeps the show alive, the performers on their toes and audience on the edge of their seats.
Do you notice any difference between UK and Danish audiences?
BLAM! is very international and easily understood by everyone and people seem to love it everywhere we come. Until now we have mainly played the Nordic countries. In the UK people are reacting more spontaneously, allowing themselves to clap and laugh more freely during the whole show. Maybe it's because there is a big sympathy for office workers in UK… maybe it's because you can't bring your beer into the theatre in Scandinavia!
What first interested you in physical theatre?
It all started from the slippery surface in Iceland where I come from and a big interest in animal behaviour. I think the old black and white movies helped a lot, combined with fairly good dance and floor skills. There has never been any dialogue in my dreams, only images. I just found a platform where I could express myself.
We hope to take on the World with BLAM!. Right after London we head to Italy for a tour and then we are formulating plans for 2014. It is an exciting time for us now.