Beige Interview: Nick Field

Nick Field

Nick Field has chased geishas, discoed with Buddhist monks and travelled to the ends of the earth, all in pursuit of a freedom that constantly seems – quite literally – over the next horizon. He will be exploring all of this in his upcoming show Adventure/Misadventure.

What ideas about freedom does your show look at?

The central idea is how do we find freedom and what does freedom mean? I’m exploring this through stories of travel and stories about attempting to find freedom in terrible jobs or when relationships fail. It’s a performative travelogue in a way.

When did the idea come to you and how has it evolved over time?

It’s been quite a long process and I drew on different elements. I used diary entries I made while I was travelling and also experiences I had. Travel has been a big part of my life – I’ve been around the world to many exotic and exciting places and I also drew upon some of the characters I’ve met along the way. I wanted to curate these experiences in a way that would resonate with ideas of freedom. Does freedom happen by running away and finding adventure or does it happen through settling down and making a home? Those were some of the questions I wanted to ask.

What format will the show take?

It’s a solo work so will involve direct communication with the audience through spoken word, poetry and music. I will play the harp and will be using it as an emotional soundtrack to the journey. Additionally, I’ve worked with a choreographer to create a rather epic dance piece which pushes me out of my comfort zone.

Tell me more about your own travel experiences.

The longest trip I went on was for a year, seven years ago. I travelled around Japan, south-east Asia and South America and it was amazing. It gave me great freedom to discover new, cultural aspects to the world. Last year I returned to South America.

What did you gain from these experiences? Did you come to any conclusions about the idea of freedom?

One of the things that’s very interesting about travel, if you do it a lot – and this is certainly an arc in my show – is that there’s a kind of naiviety to it at the start. You go into it thinking about all the wonderful experiences you’re going to have and the people you’re going to meet, but then you graduallly start to see a different side to it. There’s a section in the show that focuses on lost souls, people I met along the way who were perpetually travelling.

How did you avoid becoming another lost soul?

I talk about myself as a lost soul in the show. I think that’s something we can all relate to in some ways. I think I avoided it largely through focusing on my work and my art. That’s been my priority for a long time, but there were periods when I was teetering on that edge.

How do you think being in or not being in a relationship can affect a person’s sense of freedom?

It’s a double edged sword – the idea that perhaps being settled down is being tied down and that this can be a barrier to being free. In the show I talk about an early experience of running away with a boyfriend and there’s an incredible sense of freedom in that story – fleeing from barriers that were holding us back. But we went as far as we could go and then had to come back.

How does your show explore the idea of returning?

There’s a key point in the evening where I look at the idea of coming back and finding ‘reality’ again. I talk about being at the Rio Carnvival and the excitement of its colours and characters and then returning to Heathrow and my mother telling me that we had to stop at Sainsbury’s on the way home. After being away for a year, having to negotiate that reality again can be tricky.

Where do you think freedom can be found – is being settled down not the same as being tied down?

I think it can be a fine line. I love my work so creating art has given me an incredible freedom. Having said that there have been awful days when I’ve been stuck in jobs just to try and pay the rent and there’s been that sense of being tied down and stuck. I think if you can find the thing you love then there’s great freedom in that. I don’t necessarily believe freedom is found in running away all the time. It’s basically about finding something you’re really passionate about. There’s freedom in that.

Nick Field’s Adventure/Misadventure is The Marlborough Theatre, Brighton until 12 May and at Oval House, London, from Tue 4 Jun – Sat 22 Jun, 8:00pm.

Words: Alex Hopkins


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