When I was in Edinburgh this year I shared a venue with Paul Cree. When my two audience members left, his crowd would come in, and a couple of times I stayed too and watched his show. It was fantastic, one of the best and most original slices of poetic life, suburban grit, humour and truth that I’d seen in a long while. And Paul was incredibly supportive too, we’d help each other leaflet the street outside and on a day when it looked like I’d have no audience, he rustled up six people to come and watch.
Anyway, I thought I’d send him some questions and see what makes him tick as an artist and performer, particularly as it’s good to hear from a fellow Surrey spoken word artist!
– How much of your material is based on real life? The characters in particular seem well drawn and remarkably believable.
Lots of the material is based on real life, by default I always draw from my own experiences, mainly because I don’t really know a lot else. I haven’t travelled much or lived outside the south east of England, however, within that small limited range that is my little life and surroundings I find many things which to me are poetic and inspiring. I have a minor obsession with moterway service stations for instance. Large up Fleet Services on the M3, looking like the forest moon of Endoor in Return of the Jedi. Often with the characters I’ve written, one person might be an amalgamation of two or three different people whom I’ve known or encountered. It’s bit like those miselaniois bits of Lego I’d use to make spaceships when I was a nipper
– You find humour in every day situations. Do you store things away for future use?
Yes i do sometimes store things, write little notes etc. I’m naturally a worrier and an observer, as well as being quite silly but I often worry that if I find something that really amuses me or interests me, if I don’t write it down il forget it. Through years of working a bunch of jobs I didn’t like, offices and call centres etc, I was able to condense ideas into short sentences, like a mental zip file, via a quick trip to the carzy, though I couldn’t do it to often as this would arouse suspicion about my toilet habits. Upon getting home, I could later unravel the sentence and expand on what I was thinking. It’s was worth running the risk of the office gossips thinking I had a bowel problem for the sake a good idea.
– How do you go shout putting a show together? How long does it take?
I don’t have a particular process for putting a show together. It really depends what the show is. I try and find the process as it goes along. With my first show, A Tale From The Bedsit, that was really just one long, linear, monologue but I had a very specific idea about the staging of it, so spent i spent (including the writing) probably over two years writing that then working with Stef O Driscol putting it all together. With CD Borderline it was a lot faster as my idea for the format of the show was very simple and I already had a lot of the material written. The rest was just putting it on its feet and trying out deferent combinations and finding out what worked best.
– Who are your artistic inspirations?
People, places, my own intravertness, rain drops on windowpanes . Rappers, comedians, motorway service stations (fleet services is my favourite) boredom.
– How does the real Paul Cree differ to the stage Paul Cree?
Not too far removed as most of the material is based on my own experiences.