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Geraint Lewis

You’re Not Alone: Interview with Kim Noble

6 December 2015 Natasha Sutton-Williams

Kim Noble is back at Soho Theatre with the second run of his sell-out show You’re Not Alone. Noble uses a collage of theatre, performance art, stand up and ethically dubious hidden camera footage. Hilarious, grotesque and surprisingly moving, the show exposes Noble recording his neighbours having sex, defecating in a church and fashioning a piece of chicken into a realistic looking vagina. London Calling sat down with Kim while he subtly redecorated the Soho Theatre bar with photographs of his own face.

London Calling: You interweave film, theatre, performance art, audio recordings and audience participation. How do you bring these elements together into a single show?

Kim Noble: I can’t sit down and write, so I was going out, meeting people, reaching out to them and forming these weird relationships. It developed over a period of years. I was creating these projects, documenting them, then piecing them together. It might not have been a theatre show, but it just so happens it is. At one point I thought it was going to be just me constantly talking through all of these different relationships for a week. It might have been an exhibition or a film.

LC: What’s the most memorable audience reaction you’ve had to this show?

KN: An ambulance was called. Someone had a panic attack. That same night someone vomited on stage. It wasn’t me.

LC: Some people see your work and think everything you put on stage is 100% true to your life. Some people think it’s totally fabricated. How much of the show is made up?

KN: This is my life. These documentations are large sections of what I do with my days. I am quite horrified by that. That’s why there’s so much recording, to give it that authenticity. But then it is on stage. I get confused with that reality because it’s all real but I’ve constructed it. It’s an hour, it’s a show, it’s a story. I’ve chosen to tell certain stories and kept certain stories out.

LC: Do the people you have created relationships with know they are in your show?

KN: Some of them do. The majority of them don’t. I’m still chatting with Muhammad the Indian take-away guy. He knows but he doesn’t quite understand. I had an exhibition all about him and he knew he was in that. Some people I’m still in contact with don’t know they’re in the show.

LC: How do you feel about them not knowing?

KN: I’ve got a weird moral compass. I feel it’s just part of my work, part of me, it’s what I do. I would feel bad if I was just brashly going around causing them harm, pain or putting my finger up at them but I don’t feel I am. This show is almost a celebration of one of the people I have formed a relationship with. I’m a frightened person so I don’t really like doing these things. All of my work is considered but then I feel like fuck it, I’ll put everything in.

I think the work is about the stupidity of the lengths I go to just reach out to people rather than what they are doing. I haven’t included lots of John the lorry driver’s story because people might hate him more. He doesn’t know he’s in the show.

LC: What would happen if you found out someone was doing the same thing to you?

KN: It has happened. People have done it since the show. People try to film me. It’s part and parcel really. Scary. I formed a relationship with this person who was fictitious. It was strange. I felt quite strongly for this person.

LC: What happened when you found out they weren’t real?

KN: My girlfriend at the time made this person up, to massively test our relationship. That’s why it was weird. But amazing. Incredible. I developed a piece of work about finding this fictitious person. I went to Helsinki, where they supposedly lived, to find this person I knew didn’t exist. I didn’t find them. I’m still looking.

LC: Last time you did the show at Soho they paid for you to see a councillor. Are you seeing one this time round?

KN: No I’m not. It didn’t really work. Actually it did during the build up to the show but not during the run. That time round there was more pressure because the show had never been seen before, lots of people didn’t think it could be staged. There were legality, privacy and moral issues. This time there’s not so much of that because it’s already been out there. The thought of performing it still makes me feel sickened to the core with fear, but part of me is looking forward to it. I’ve got sweaty hands just thinking about it.

LC: Have you changed anything for this comeback production?

KN: I’ve added new things. I’ve met new people. It’s updating all the time but I haven’t changed the overall structure. It’s weird, I was recently speaking to John the lorry driver and I thought, ‘Oh shit, is this going to go in? Is this me chatting to him or is this part of the show?’

Kim Noble’s show You’re Not Alone is on at Soho Theatre from 8th December to 9th January. For more information and tickets, see website.

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