Caro Meets Theatre Interview

Nir Paldi: No Kids

By | Published on Friday 8 February 2019

Theatre-goers are probably well aware of the work of Theatre Ad Infinitum, because of their absolutely brilliant track record of producing amazing shows like ‘Translunar Paradise’, ‘Bucket List’ and ‘Ballad Of The Burning Star’.

Company founders Nir Paldi and George Mann are currently performing their co-created show ‘No Kids’ at Battersea Arts Centre, and I highly recommend seeing it. But perhaps before you do that, read this enlightening Q&A I did with Nir, to find out more about the piece and how it came together.

CM: Can you start by explaining the format of the show? Would you describe it as theatre? What can audiences expect?
NP: Yes, this is very much a theatre show. It’s a story about a couple who love one another, very much, but they’re being torn apart by their conflicting desires and opinions on whether to have children or not. The characters and scenes are based on our actual lives – George and I are performing ourselves as characters and exposing our discussions (and explosive arguments) and the rollercoaster journey we went on as we tried to decide whether we should have children or not. It’s a little crazy, and thrilling, and quite funny. It’s physical, there’s dancing and singing and loads of Madonna. But ultimately, ‘No Kids’ provokes a public discourse about parenting that we feel is very crucial right now.

CM: So can you tell us a bit more about the subject matter, and the themes you address?
NP: In ‘No Kids’ the characters are in a dilemma – should we have kids or not? As the play progresses, it becomes everyone’s dilemma – that initial question is a starting point that opens a Pandora’s box of questions that don’t have easy answers. Does the human race need to reproduce less? As same-sex couples – even though we can now legally have children – should we? How does homophobic bullying impact on gay parenting? How does one go about adopting a child? Why do we all feel so much pressure to have kids? Essentially, the play’s characters examine all the fears, anxieties, joys, the love, the pitfalls and the mindboggling complexity of parenthood – and it invites our audience to do the same.

CM: What were your aims when you began to create the show? Do you think you achieved them?
NP: Our aim was to get people thinking and talking about the themes in the play. Every time we perform the show, audiences approach us afterwards with their own story and what they’ve been through on their journey towards or to becoming parents. It really does get people talking and thinking about the subject, so we’re delighted with that.

CM: What made you want to do a show about this? What inspired you?
NP: This is something that has been on our minds for years now. I always wanted to have children more than George did. But we realised that every time we talked about it, we never really went into depth, all of our conversations stayed quite superficial. One day I thought that it would be a very exciting idea to stage an in-depth discussion, that was honest and and asking all the important questions. George agreed and we went for it. I’ll be honest though, it was a much more profound, personal and challenging experience than either of us had realised it would be, and I think that’s reflected in the piece.

CM: Is it a political piece? Socio-political..?
NP: It is a socio-political piece as it deals with political issues through our personal stories. The politics range from the impact of child birth on the environment, the ethics of surrogacy, or need for more people to adopt, through to the impact of homophobic bullying on two gay men contemplating being parents. Though the piece explores all of this through the eyes of a same sex couple, it’s something everyone can relate to and goes through when considering whether or not to have kids.

CM: How did you go about putting the show together? What’s your creative process?
NP: We come up with the idea and get into a studio with a big bunch of artists with a structure and loads of research material and we begin to improvise. We gradually develop our idea and start giving it a theatrical form. It’s crucial to us that we have both a strong story, and an exciting way of telling it that’s surprising and has an impact. We spend a lot of time experimenting and testing our work on outside eyes, and audiences too – asking for their feedback. Usually it’s either George or I leading on a process but this time we have done it together. Which was a challenge.

CM: Tell us about the company now, the acclaimed Ad Infinitum. What prompted you to create your own company, and what were your aims?
NP: We met whilst training in a theatre-making school in Paris, France. George and I both loving making theatre from scratch – to have the seed of an idea and watch it grow. So creating our company was a way to enable this process, to build our reputation around a name over time that would give us the freedom to accomplish our creative aspiration. So we come up with an idea and find ways of making it a reality – both outside (funding applications, support from theatres etc) and inside the rehearsal room with our excellent team of collaborators. This was the aim and this is the reality of it. We make work and tour around the world a lot. Some years we are away for up to six months which can get quite difficult as you miss home. But we love what we do. Now that Ad Infinitum is 11 years old, we’re currently looking ahead at the next 5-10 years and getting excited about where we want to take the company and our work – watch this space.

CM: What ambitions do you have for the company in the future?
NP: We want to find a physical home for ourselves in our home town of Bristol. Somewhere we can create our future plays, but also to host other artists making new work, to support them as they develop their own theatrical magic.

CM: What do you have coming up next?
NP: We are currently working on a piece looking at Deafhood which has the working title, ‘Extraordinary Wall of Silence’. We’re very excited as we got Arts Council funding for this project; it explores Deaf culture, sign language and the untold story of Deaf history and oppression. As well as making our next play, the project will also teach people in BSL, run Deaf-led theatre workshops and Deaf-led Deaf awareness training. Additionally, we will also be live streaming three lectures by Dr. Paddy Ladd based on his groundbreaking work ‘Understanding Deaf Culture: In Search of Deafhood’. More news about this in the coming months…

‘No Kids’ is on at Battersea Arts Centre until 23 Feb, see this page here for more information and to book.

LINKS: | |

Photo: Alex Brenner