Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Adam Welsh: No Future

By | Published on Friday 9 April 2021

Coming up this week via Camden People’s Theatre is the streaming of ‘No Future’ by Adam Walsh, a recipient of the venue’s Outside The Box commission, which has supported artists to develop larger scale projects to explore what ‘live performance’ can mean during pandemic conditions and the closure of theatres.

It’s a really intriguing sounding project, and I really wanted to know more. I spoke to Adam, to find out about the play and its development, as well as his plans for the future.

CM: Can we start with the format of ‘No Future’? How will it be delivered and how will audiences access it?
AW: ‘No Future’ is a hybrid between a film and a theatre show, that you can watch from home. As a digital work, it is broadcast over the internet, so if you have a computer and an internet connection you can access it super easily. You can also watch on your smartphone, tablet or or smart TV.

CM: How would you describe it in terms of genre or style?
AW: It’s true crime meets autobiography meets performance meets reconstruction meets super-8 film meets verbatim theatre.

CM: Can we talk about the show’s content now? Who is it about, and what happens?
AW: In ‘No Future’, we’re reconstructing a burglary that happened in my flat a couple of years ago. Through this, I’m trying to explore where we can turn in times of crisis.

CM: What themes does it explore?
AW: Ultimately, it’s about our inability to know the future, time, vision and family.

CM: What was the inspiration for it? What made you want to tackle this subject and themes?
AW: The project was inspired by conversations I had with residents of the borough of Camden. Over a number of months I was having amazing weekly conversations with two incredible women, Jessica – who is 96 – and Kate – who is 78. We talked honestly about all of our experiences through the pandemic, and the conversations were always uplifting and frank.

The ideas and themes we gravitated towards and revisited in our weekly chats become the themes of the project. In a way, this has been a radical way of working for me, because the project is not just about what I want to say as the artist, it’s about the common ground we’ve all shared through this time.

CM: You created the show to be delivered online, didn’t you?
AW: Yes, it was created to be performed exclusively online. And honestly, I have no plans to adapt it for stage because it very much is of this moment, but you never know what the future holds…

CM: How has creating the work for online delivery affected your approach?
AW: Because theatre’s emergence into the digital space is relatively nascent, I’ve been liberated to make it up as I go along, which – as an organising principle – can be scary, but ultimately is more creative and liberating.

CM: Can you see the burgeoning online delivery of cultural events continuing post pandemic?
AW: Yes. And it’s already happening. While sometimes it is nice to be in a room with a bunch of strangers, people are really getting behind the idea that you don’t need to leave your house in order to have life changing cultural encounters.

CM: The pandemic has had a huge impact on the arts industry of course. How has lockdown been for you?
AW: During the first lockdown, I didn’t want to make or watch any live-streamed theatre. The idea of it was nauseating. Why is it that you put a play on film and suddenly it just looks like a bad film – and a bad play?

It was around this point that I tried to change my career. Theatre felt like a lost cause. I couldn’t work and I wasn’t eligible for any government support. I left my acting agent, applied to be a postman five times, got rejected five times; applied to work for MI5, still haven’t heard back – I guess that’s out of the window now…

The opportunity to apply for this commission came up and I applied because I genuinely needed it. I was broke. And naturally that got me thinking about what it would be like to make a piece of theatre on the verge of quitting theatre, that would be performed without an audience. I feel that’s fairly universal though, We’ve all been forced to reconsider what we are doing, who it’s really for, and why should they care.

CM: What aims, or hopes, do you have for the future?
AW: Hard to say. I have ADHD which thrusts me into an eternal present – I really struggle to know what I want for dinner, let alone the future. I also try not to have too many hopes in case I get disappointed. I want to worry less about being a “success” in life, and spend some meaningful time with my family – especially my one year old son, Ardi.

CM: What’s coming up next for you after this?
AW: I’m directing a new theatre piece – with an actual live audience! – at Liverpool Everyman called ‘Y’MAM’ by Majid Mehdizadeh, who is a really exciting emergent voice on the theatre scene.

I’m also doing a bit of work with Jessie Cave at Soho Theatre, which is always lovely. Other than that, we’ll see!

‘No Future’ will be streamed as part of Camden People’s Theatre’s Outside The Box programme from 13 – 17 Apr. For more information and to book, see the venue website here.

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Photo: CK Morrison.