Following his recent award-winning production at the 2018 Edinburgh Fringe – Zugunruhe (“extraordinary… moving and enlightening”, New Scientist) – Lydia Manning, one of our volunteer marketers interviewed Tom Bailey about his inspiration for Vigil, coming to this year’s festival.

What interested you in this form of theatre?
Solo physical performance? I guess, with any form, as an artist you chip away at various things until you start to find a form that you think provides an appropriate vehicle to express and articulate something. I love to work a lot with sound, I love to act and I love to move. But I’m not a dancer, musician or actor. So I suppose that the form of theatre that Vigil is taking is somewhere between all those.

Where do you get inspiration for your performances?
The natural world, and artists who work in the natural world, like Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy. For me, the natural world creates its own art, so I guess I’m just trying to provide a human interpretation of that. 

What creative process do you go through when creating your performance?
I devise my work, which involves arriving at the rehearsal room without a script, and developing the show gradually, through improvisations, more improvisations research, writing… a mix of things. But I always make with other people in the room. Although it’s a solo show, I cant’ make it on my own.

How do you go about physically becoming the animal?
There is a rule of the rehearsal room that I’m not actually looking up any of the species that I’m representing. It’s more about our distance from these thousands of species. It’s likely that the audience, as well as me, will never have seen any of these species. So I work with just the name of the animal, and find a way to ‘meet’ the animal, physically, rhythmically, emotionally, in my body and imagination. It’s hit and miss. But I’m not going to zoos and imitating animals, for sure. 

What inspired you to create Vigil?
I’ve been making work about the natural world for a few years now. I’ve known for some time that we are living through a 6th mass extinction. But in the last couple of years I’ve started exploring the representation of non-human life on stage. Having done a show about one animal last year, I started to wonder – what if it’s about thousands of animals? So that started me on the road to Vigil…

What can audiences expect from Vigil?
An encounter with a lot of animals. A mix of fun, movement, sadness, laughter, beautiful sound… it’s more of a space to sit and reflect on a massive and almost inconceivable process that is happening around us right now. 

Vigil will be performed by Tom Bailey on Saturday 13th and Sunday 14th July. You can book your tickets here.