Theo Adams Tonight Is Forever

Theo Adams creates a sensory spectacle with his indefinably cathartic artwork.

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Last Sunday night at the Union gallery on Ewer Street members of the art and fashion worlds queued in the drizzling rain to see Theo Adams’s ambitious new solo production. Entitled Tonight is Forever, the show featured contrasting film projections, the impressive extravaganza of an on-stage orchestra, gutsy singing, performance art, dancing, lights ,music and startling visuals with the tag line –

Tonight is forever, tell me now you don't disagree.
Tonight is forever, open the door, you hold the key.
Tonight, tonight, tonight, tonight,
Tonight is the first night.

We spoke to Theo and performer Scottee, who was also involved in the show…

Dazed Digital: How did tonight, your first solo performance go?
Theo Adams: Well, to be honest its all a complete blur for me, I can’t really remember anything of the actual performance. When I'm performing I'm in another zone, it all just goes from the minute I get off the stage. It's only when I see photos or a video that I can actually remember what happened!

DD: What was your inspiration for the show?
TA: A video on YouTube of the opera singer Jessye Norman singing on an empty stage with the most vivid red background. That's what launched the spark. The vivid red. The power of that colour. It all went from there. Everything from The Wiz to The Red Shoes. Liza Minnelli to Clara Rockmore.

DD: Why did you choose the song title 'Tonight is Forever' as the basis for the show?
TA: It's favorite song from Results – the album by Liza Minnelli and the Pet Shop Boys. The lyrics and song are beautiful and I think that a performance should last forever... you should be able to take those 40 minutes and make them last forever in peoples minds.

DD: How would you describe your work?
TA: It's very difficult for me to describe my work. I'm not really sure where I fit in. Because I wouldn't call it cabaret, theatre, dance or pure performance art. I'm not sure if there is a name for it yet, but it is basically what is inside me trying to get out! What I do is deeply personal but there is no reason why others can't enter my world. I want people to feel what the performers are feeling. I want a sense of catharsis. I want to expand peoples’ comfort zones in terms of others and themselves, I want the audience to walk out changed for the better.

DD: Your work encompasses different kinds of media... Why do you chose to work with so many mediums and how do you think they contribute to the overall effect?
TA: I am not just a performer. I want to create full productions. All the components are as important as each other for me. I basically want to have a company, and put on full-on shows. I'm not that interested in standing in a white gallery at a private view shaving my hair off and cutting myself. It's a lot of work for me but I have found an amazing team who get my vision; Jordan Hunt who I work with on music, David White on sets, Olivia Hegarty and Pippa Greenbank with costume and, of course, my amazing dancers. It was listed as a solo show, but really it was a solo show of the 'Theo Adams Company'.

DD: You reference older artists, what is the allure of these glamorous by-gone ages and how do you see the future of performance...?
TA: Judy Garland bearing her soul on stage singing 'The Man Who Got Away' wearing a red sequin dress with a full orchestra behind her is infinitely more fascinating to me than Gwyneth Paltrow giving people tips on macrobiotics. People will go back to the show, to the soul, to the performer. It's only a matter of time. I'm hopefully doing my bit.

DD: Do you see yourself as part of an artistic community?
TA: Very much so. The show itself was made with a community I have created. From costumes to the dancers. It is a team. But this is also extended to my close friends, Scottee who was a guest performer in the show and Matthew Stone who's part of a new nomadic art space, 'The Centre of the Universe', who put the show on itself.  All the people involved are incredible individuals. Together, however, I truly think we can change EVERYTHING.

DD: Are there plans for any subsequent solo shows?
TA: I want to get my group more properly formed. Get some sort of funding so I can actually do what I want and not have to rely on favours constantly. I want to create bigger, more beautiful spectacular productions.

Doing the rounds of extravagant artists we also spoke to renowned performer Scottee about being involved in Theo’s work and his own upcoming projects;

DD: What do you think about Theo’s work?
Scottee: What do I think about Theo’s work? I really love Theo’s work! For someone so young to be able to be so like emotionally diverse and substantial is amazing. He has a real ability to make you feel really emotive and really stirred. I think he manages to get the right balance between showmanship and performance and I think a lot of performance art is very academic and up its own arse.

DD: You and Theo have worked together a lot, how does your collaboration with him work for you?
S: Well, it all started, because I first met him in a nightclub and he was wearing a lampshade on his head. It excited me that there were new people coming into the the performance scene, and we have similar lives, so I suppose it was a natural progression that we worked together and collaborated as we were learning our craft, our skill.

DD: I wanted to ask what you’ve got coming up, what work you’re doing at the moment?
S: We're writing a, musical with a guy called Les Childs who works for the Michael Clarke company that’s going to be based around mental health.

Watch out, with Scottee showing at Fred Gallery from the end of March on a piece based around mental health issues and Theo’s plans including a US tour, an album, a film and a new show ready for Autumn looks like they’re taking over…
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