Could you first introduce yourself to the readers?
My name is John Hinton. I’m a theatre maker, comic singer-songwriter and science communicator, which means I make shows with silly songs that teach people about the way the world works.
Could you describe your act for us?
‘Ensonglopedia’ is a word I invented myself. It means a collection of twenty-six songs, one for each letter of the alphabet. This will be the second Ensonglopedia I’ve made, and for this one, I’ve written songs about twenty-six different species of animal, most of which I’d bet you’ve never heard of.
Why did you want to perform at Brighton Fringe?
Brighton is the spiritual home for all of my performance work, and has also literally been my home for most of my life. It is a great place for me to test out my new work on a friendly audience who have a pretty good idea how crazy I am already.
Why did you decide to apply for WINDOW?
Anything that has the chance of bringing more attention to my work has got to be worth a one-in-a-few-hundred shot, and this one paid off.
How did you react to being told you’d been selected to be showcased?
I danced round and round and round my tiny office, knocking lamps and mandolins flying.
How has it helped you so far?
People keep sending me long lists of questions to answer! (And I love answering long lists of questions!)
What is the best part of your job?
I make shows about topics that I know very little about when I start making them. This means that I have to do a lot of learning, and it means that I have to meet a lot of very clever experts so they can explain things to me. This is the best bit – finding stuff out that I didn’t know, and finding exciting ways of sharing that knowledge with others.
Conversely, what has been the most challenging?
Well, touring shows has become a little different since having a baby fifteen months ago, especially since I perform a lot of my shows with my wife. Our baby comes on tour with us a lot – in fact, I’m writing these words from Australia, where we’re performing at Adelaide Fringe, and we have our daughter with us. She’s having a lovely time, but jet lag was...interesting.
Do you have any pre-show rituals?
Only the standard vocal and physical warm-ups. I think superstitions can be dangerous, because if you then forget to bring your magic comb or whatever to the venue, or you accidentally stamp your left foot once more than your right, you’ll think the performance is jinxed when it really isn’t.
What is the process you go through when looking to create a new show? Are you very disciplined or do you need to be strict with yourself?
There is a very particular process of research and development that I’ve developed with my science shows, but there’s one thing that applies to all creation: just do it. You don’t need to wait for inspiration to strike before writing, because maybe it never will. I always clock my hours: I’ll decide at the beginning of a day if this is a one- or three- or five-hour day, and, even if nothing creative seems to be happening at all, I put in the hours.
What has been the single best piece of advice you’ve been given in your career?
Do what makes you happy. Happiness is far more important than success.
What do you think has been the most dramatic change to the industry in the last five years?
If you could have any other job in the world, what would it be?
I’d quite like to have a go at being an actual real-life scientist, rather than just pretending to be one.
Imagine you possess the power to send one message back in time to 16-year-old you. What do you say?
I’m under no illusion that present-day-me is any wiser than 16-year-old-me, so I’d probably just send a wave and a thumbs-up, or maybe blow a raspberry, and see what I got in response.
What advice would you give to young people who want to enter the industry? What should they do and not do?
Don’t rely on an agent – I’ve never had one and I get plenty of jobs thank you. Don’t just sit by the phone waiting. Make your own work. Make it about something you care about. And start now. You may make lots of terrible work that no-one’ll see to begin with, but that’s the only way to improve.
Where can people find you on the internet, and find out more about your show?
My website is www.whoisjohnhinton.com, and my show’s website is www.ensonglopedia.com.