Theatre in Wales

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You Have To Be Mad To Work Here     

You Have To Be Mad To Work Here
Ceredigion based artist James Baker is a recovering alcoholic, a sufferer of depression and a performer, and he’s made his debut show about just that. You Have To Be Mad To Work Here And It Doesn’t Even Help is a blend of stand-up comedy, acting, and physical theatre investigating the link between creativity, the artistic temperament, mental health and issues around addiction. This is not just a personal story, however, though his experiences put him in an ideal position to explore the thorny topics of addiction and mental health issues, as James blends academic research and the experiences of other artists he’s been lucky enough to talk to into the mix.

“Growing up, I always wanted to be a mad poet, clutching a bottle of Laudanum and howling into the wind on a blasted moor. Just like every kid.” Says James “But I just ended up under a duvet with a bottle of Gin, and I never wrote anything.” It wasn’t until James got Sober after a decade of following his teenage dreams of debauchery that he found himself in a position to create Art. “That’s where the idea for the show came from, I think. The closer I got to madness, the further I got from creativity, and vice versa. But the link is there in our cultural story and it definitely helped start me down the road to some bad places, but why does the link exist, and can it do any good while it’s here?”

Making up for lost time James has immersed himself in the Arts scene in Aberystwyth, completing a course in Performing Arts at Coleg Ceredigion with the highest grades possible, while regularly performing extracurricularly. Since completing the course James has Acted, Danced, devised Performance Art pieces and begun performing his own Stand-Up Comedy material. A regular fixture at Aberystwyth-based company Scriptography Production’s Response Time events, creating performance in response to Art Galleries over 48 hours, James has developed his personal style and carved himself a reputation for high-energy, comedic performances. “James Baker is a genius” said Guy O’Donnell, co-ordinator of Sherman Cymru’s Young Critics scheme, after seeing James perform in Cardiff in October and December 2014 in Response Time events responding to the Artes Mundi exhibition

One would be forgiven for thinking the link between madness and creativity is an ambitious topic for his first full-length show but, as James himself says: “Being an artist means having equal parts overwhelming arrogance and crippling self-doubt.” The confidence which he describes as arrogance combines with the perfectionism which feels like self-doubt and balance out in his work to create works of art that pose carefully considered questions, and attempt to present a picture that begins to make sense of the madness. Regardless of the answers, this show demonstrates exactly what can be achieved when we take a look at the madness we find ourselves immersed in and decide to climb up, out from under the duvet and into the work we love.

YHTBMTWH(AIDEH) has been developed with Aberystwyth Arts Centre, where James is an Associate Artist, is opening there on March 25th, for one night only. Tickets can be bought here:
James’ next task is to organise further shows, in Wales and maybe further afield. You can follow his progress at his website:
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Friday, March 06, 2015back



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