Interview with Alex Hughes, writer and performer of The De Nova Super

Alex is a film, television and theatre actor and veteran of Secret Cinema. Alongside fellow theatre, clown, film and movement aficionado Will Palmer he has crafted THE DE NOVA SUPER, a cinematic, visually compelling and emotionally challenging space odyssey.

Interview with Alex Hughes, writer and performer of The De Nova Super

Hello!

Oh hi there!

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

I am Alex Hughes, one half of A Brilliant Everything and co-creator of THE DE NOVA SUPER.

How would you describe your show?

Ha! This has become a sport for us, trying to sum it up a different way each time…  

We’ll go with the concept of a piece of theatre like an album. As if Buster Keaton had made a punk album with Stanley Kubrick and Brian Eno. In Space.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Because if you think you have a strong idea and know how to execute it there is no better place on earth to throw yourself off the precipice. A place where thousands of other people are doing it as well. There is a beauty in that, especially when all those other artists are at different levels and from all over the globe. 

What differentiates the Fringe from other festivals? 

Quite simply its popularity: it is incomparable in terms of scale and reach. Any success stories from the Edinburgh Festival tend to be real bonafide victories. Also, because it isn’t London for a split second.

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

I am acutely aware this could be my longest answer (takes a deep breath).

My stepfather had a theatre company for a time when I was growing up. We lived in squats in central London during this time. A friend of ours got a job in a West End production of Worzel Gummidge with Jon Pertwee. I was about seven or eight years old. We went backstage after the show and met Worzel and all the other scarecrows and I remember them smelling disgusting. The combination of sweat and the straw in their costumes was pungent, but hey they all stayed in character. John Pertwee took me to meet Una Stubbs in her dressing room. She was also in character as Aunt Sally his scarecrow partner. I remember being speechless, mesmerized and genuinely thrilled at the illusion. She was incredible. That, and discovering Steven Spielberg affected me enormously. Everything changed. But I find I am inspired often, still, by anything out of the ordinary.

If you didn’t have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

Well here’s the thing. I am writing this in a restaurant in Madrid. My mouth is full of cheese. And meat. I am here to shoot scenes for an American independent feature film about detention centres for immigrants in America. 

I already do what I set out to do and my colleague Will is currently in Saudi Arabia performing at the first circus to enter the country - he is a puppeteer. But both these things aren’t enough. The satisfaction we have got from creating The De Nova Super has been a missing bit of the jigsaw, for us both.

The show has our hearts in it and is full of the things that inspire us - things we share a passion for. It is a chance to do something that we are entirely responsible for. It is not driven by any commercial motives, it is driven by an idea of the theatre we would like to see.

I went to the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia Madrid today and also yesterday, to see Picasso’s ‘Guernica’. As for many, it has been a favourite painting of mine my whole adult life, but I had never been in a room with it before. It is extraordinarily important and powerful, political and emotional. I was star struck by a painting maybe for the first time. After I would find myself looking at paintings by Jean Miro. I suppose you could call his work Punk. He cultivated the idea of anti-painting. Such beautiful shapes and colours but driven by the idea that he wanted to assassinate painting. WithThe De Nova SuperI think we wanted to assassinate theatre. 

The short answer is that we wouldn’t be doing anything else, other than what we are doing.

If you could have any job in the world, what would it be? 

A Ninja.

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

Huge question. I guess it would the cover for THE MUPPET SHOW album. I nearly went blind studying that.

Do you ever feel any pressure to be a social commentator, or constantly update material to respond to events?

No. However The De Nova Super seems to inadvertently became about something, without us realising at first. The possible extinction of the human race.

Equally, do you think there has been a shift in public sentiment that has affected your work? 

Not a shift necessarily, but a reawakening to the trouble we are in. Extinction Rebellion’s extraordinary efforts have highlighted this in an incredibly successful way. I certainly think that inspired us to carry on in the direction we have taken.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

When is Bowie coming home?

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

Buster Keaton. Physical Virtuosity. People don’t do that shit anymore. And cinematic inventiveness at the beginning of the art form. Watch Steamboat Bill Jnr. It is all.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe? 

Make sure it matters to you. Do the work and never lose faith, as it may be just the beginning of something else entirely. 

When and where can people see your show?

The De Nova Super is on 31st July until 26th August (not 12th or 19th) at Assembly George Square, The Box at 3pm. Tickets and more information: https://tickets.edfringe.com/whats-on/de-nova-super 

And where can people find, follow and like you online?

Instagram: @abrillianteverything

Twitter: @ABrilliantThing

Facebook: A Brilliant Everything

Header Image Credit: Provided

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe..

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