Q&A/The Festival Sessions/Comedy/Theatre

Cockroaches, Kafka and keeping it playful

4 February 2020

Comedian Nadia Collins turns the bridal narrative on its head in her dark and immersive show, The Bride.

In her Fringe Session Q&A, Nadia Collins gives us a taste of her clown-based approach to keeping audiences entertained.

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Seesaw: Tell us about your career path to date.
NC: Official:
Nadia Collins is a physical theatre maker, writer and comedian, who has been performing improv, sketch and stand-up comedy since 2008. Training at Eìcole Philippe Gauiler in 2016, she was nominated as Best Newcomer at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival 2018. She has created a number of critically acclaimed solo shows, including The Big Thingy (5 stars – The Upside News, 5 stars – Winning at Failing), Virgin Bloody Mary (nominated Best Comedy, Perth Fringe 2017, 5 stars – The Australia Times) and Bad Egg Boys (co-creator) (5 stars – The West). She was once a lawyer.

I started doing comedy and improv when I was at uni studying law, and felt like I’d found my niche with those people and in that world. Soon I was dabbling in stand-up too, and always getting really into any type of show where I could make a dumb costume and be weird. I guess people started to describe me as a physical comedian because I’m very in my body and face when I perform, I love being dumb and silly. I thought of myself as more of an actor and studied that after I quit working as a lawyer, but increasingly I realised I was well and truly incapable of taking myself that seriously. I discovered clown, made a silly show with Fran Middleton (my comedy bestie) called Bad Egg Boys, then went to France to study clown. After that I made a few more solo shows which people seemed to enjoy, I took them to a bunch of festivals, and now I will never own property.

Nadia Collins in her favourite piece of playground equipment.

S: Describe your artistic practice…
I’m all about making stuff that is fun and dumb and silly. I like to ask myself: if someone in the audience has ADD/ADHD, will they be bored at any moment? I hate shows that are boring. It should be very playful with the audience at every moment. It’s also important to me to have this kind of home made vibe. Like home made costumes, crap sets and props. It’s this feel of like, a kid doing a show for their parents in the living room and being really happy and proud of it.

S: Tell us about your 2020 Fringe World show, The Bride.
A bride wakes up on her wedding day as a cockroach. It’s Kafka-inspired, stupid, absurd, clowny, messy fun. It’s the first time I’m doing a bunch of characters in a show. So that’ll be challenging.

S: What inspired you to make The Bride?
The ghost of Franz Kafka came to me in a dream and said “Nadia, Nadia, I need you to make a show inspired by my story Metamorphosis.” Little did I know that that cheating bastard went around to a bunch of other Fringe performers and said exactly the same thing.

S: Tell us about the creative/rehearsal process for the work…
I sat in a room for months surrounded by real, living cockroaches. I wanted to know what they eat, how they eat, how they make love, what they do for kicks. I wanted to get inside their heads. I then did the same thing with a roomful of brides. Both experiences were challenging in their own ways, but I think I preferred being with the roaches. Those little suckers know how to party, I can tell you that for free.

S: What differentiates The Bride from the 700 or so other Fringe World shows on offer?
Well I’m a unique snowflake I guess. 700 is a lot of shows. How do I know there’s not another show exactly like mine in the Fringe guide? I can’t honestly guarantee it. It’s like how do we know there’s not an identical Earth somewhere out there, with a bizarro version of me answering these questions at the exact same moment and going into a deep existential crisis wondering what differentiates any of us from one another, or are we all just kind of pre-programmed quasi-clones of each other with superficial individualities, bound to live out the same repetitive, destructive patterns over and over until we succeed in destroying the universe. Also I have glow sticks in my show.

S: Who will The Bride appeal to?
Anyone who loves a crazy, sometimes dark, clowny, take-the-piss show, who doesn’t like pretentious Theatre, who is into comedy, who has an open mind and doesn’t hate audience participation. If you like South Park, Monty Python, Mighty Boosh, that sort of thing, you’ll probably like this show.

S: Aside from your show, what are you looking forward to seeing/doing at Fringe World 2020?
Cam Venn‘s shows. I’m also eager to fritter away the pittance I do have at the artist’s bar and spend the rest of February living in deep shame and regret.

S: What is your favourite part of the playground?
I love the one you can sit inside and spin around and around. Above is a photo of me inside one of those.

The Bride plays The Blue Room Theatre’s Summer Nights program, 4-8 February 2020, as part of Fringe World 2020.

Pictured top is Nadia Collins in ‘The Bride’.

“The Fringe Sessions” is an annual series of Q&A interviews with artists who will be appearing at Fringe World. Stay tuned for more!

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Author —
Nina Levy

Nina Levy has worked as an arts writer and critic since 2007. She co-founded Seesaw and has been co-editing the platform since it went live in August 2017. As a freelancer she has written extensively for The West Australian and Dance Australia magazine, co-editing the latter from 2016 to 2019. Nina loves the swings because they take her closer to the sky.

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