Sunday, August 16, 2009

Fringe Q&A With Tim Watts of The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer

By Byrne Harrison
Photo by Michelle Robin Anderson

Name: Tim Watts
Show: The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorerer

How did you first get involved in theatre?
When I was 7 years old I was in some community theatre musical. It was rubbish, but I loved the attention.

Who are your biggest influences?
Jim Henson, Robert Lepage, Charlie Chaplin, Rowan Atkinson, Tim Burton, Carl Sagan, Alan Moore, and

What is The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer about?
Well, its set in a post-apocalyptic environmental water-world, and Alvin Sputnik joins a last-ditch effort to find a new place for humanity to live at the bottom of the ocean. However its more about the power of enduring love even in the face of such a bleak future. It's got puppets, animation, ukulele and bubbles.

What inspired you to write it?
A few things. Firstly I had made this puppet (Alvin Sputnik) which was a deep sea diver, and I really liked him, and other people did too. I love the ocean, and deep sea exploration; the ocean is very important to me where I am from in Perth. I also really wanted to make a solo show, and have it tour-able, and fun, poignant and not pretentious. Finally I was becoming (and still am) overwhelmed with the environmental situation, and felt like I had to make a piece that at least acknowledged it. But I didn't want to make it a preachy piece about picking up trash, cause I am just as flawed as everybody else when it comes to this stuff, but what I wanted to embody was the goodness in humanity. That means that there is always hope, that we will endure, and love will endure (but its going to take a lot of work). I was getting sick of the apathetic existential bleak stuff, and wanted some inspiring joy.

Who are your collaborators and how long have you been working with them?
I worked with numerous people along the way, mainly Arielle Gray, who I have worked with for many years, and I feel understands my vision more than anyone else, and was able to contribute ideas, as well as mainly help me self-direct the piece. My father Anthony Watts, built the set and all the gadgets; he isn't a theatre guy, but is a whiz kid with the soldering iron, and any whacked-out electric gizmo idea I come up with, he can usually find a way to make it happen. Most of the show runs on batteries, even the lights.

Fringe shows are notorious for their short rehearsal schedule. How has the rehearsal process been?
This show has actually been in the works for a while. Since March this year, I have been plugging way with ideas, and showings to various people. I did a season in Perth (Australia, my home town) before I came out here and it went really well, and gave me a chance to get the show nice and slick.

What's next for you after Fringe?
I'll be going home. Back to the other side of the world (literally), and doing a dark, violent musical (rare for Perth, not for here), and doing some development for some other shows. In terms of Alvin Sputnik, I am currently organising some more touring around Australia, and the world (I'm going to translate it into different languages).

And finally, if a genie were to grant you one wish, what would you wish for?
The ability to breathe underwater. Oh so awesome.

The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer
Weeping Spoon Productions
Written by Tim Watts

HERE Arts Center - Dorothy B. Williams Theater
Fri 14 - 5 PM
Sat 15 - 7:15 PM
Tue 18 - 8:30 PM
Sat 22 - 2:15 PM
Sun 23 - 8:15 PM
Thu 27 - 7:30 PM

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