Today we meet Christopher Watts of No Borders Performance. His show – ‘Bleeding Black’ – explores the darker side of ‘hyper-masculinity’ against the backdrop of growing up playing rugby in New Zealand. Bleeding Black will be performed every day from August 2nd-10th, August 12th-17th and August 19th-24th at the Greenside@Nicolson Square (Fern Studio). Tickets available through the Fringe Box Office.
1. Can you introduce yourself and your show (Bleeding Black) ?
- Hi! My name is Christopher Watts and I am the writer and performer for Bleeding Black, produced by No Borders Performance. Bleeding Black tells the story of a young New Zealand man called Sam, who struggles to grow up in a culture where rugby and hyper-masculinity bleed into social structures.
2. What is the top reason people should see the show?
- Because there seems to be something entertaining about watching a guy exercise himself to death onstage. But also Bleeding Black tries to answer questions we find uncomfortable to address about our social attitudes.
3. What does a ‘successful Fringe run’ mean to you?
- A West End transfer? 4 star reviews would go down well, and happy audiences! If I manage to make a bit of money, that’s a good bonus!
4. What are your 3 top tips for first timers to the Edinburgh Fringe?
Tip 1 – See everything you can! It is such a unique festival and it’s so rare to see such a variety in one place.
Tip 2 – Go everywhere you can! Even outside of August, Edinburgh is one of my favourite cities to explore. During August, you will never run out of things to do.
Tip 3 – Make it fun! The fringe is stressful, but we all get to the end eventually. And it’s gonna feel so much better at the end if you make every day as fun as you can.
5. Your show’s description reads : ‘Bleeding Black explores the darker side of that identity, where hyper-masculinity bleeds into everyday life, affecting everybody in ways that are often ignored or overlooked.’ What is hyper-masculinity?
- I see it as a kind of subset of toxic masculinity. Where toxic masculinity encapsulates all masculine behaviour that harms society, hyper-masculinity focuses on overt behaviour such as aggression, and physical dominance. In the case of Bleeding Black, this comes through in the rugby culture which prioritises strength and physical dominance, and creates an aggressive attitude through the behaviour of coaches and supporters.
6. You describe your show as a ‘black comedy’. This is often said to be the most difficult form of comedy – is building empathy with the audience key?
- Absolutely! My job as the actor is to make the audience laugh, while telling an at times horrible story. I find the best way to do this is to make the audience like Sam early on and want to be on his side. If I achieve that, when the darker elements of the comedy come through, the audience is fighting to decide if they should feel sorry for Sam, or if they should turn against him.
7. How are you promoting your show in the run up to the Fringe?
- There are regular posts on the Facebook page, and Instagram is starting to kick off. There are two short seasons being performed in Palmerston North and Wellington, New Zealand, in the weeks before the fringe. In fact, I fly to Edinburgh less than 24 hours after my final NZ performance! Once in Edinburgh, I’ll be joining the absolute masses on the mile and in George Square, flyering the show with every ounce of courage I have.
8. Do you have a target audience for our show?
- Everyone, but mainly sports nuts. The great thing about this story is that, though it’s about kiwis and rugby, it’s universal. Scotland loves rugby, England loves football, America loves NFL, Canada loves ice hockey. Physical sports create the same kind of environments all over the world.
9. We all need a laugh – tell us your favourite joke!
- I’ll keep it rugby focused and see if I can get the Scots on my side. What do you call a Welshman in the world cup final? Nigel Owens. Or how about “Remember boys, rugby is a team game. So all 14 of you make sure you pass the ball to Jonah.”
10. Lastly do you want to tell us where and when we can see the show?
- Of course! I’d be stupid not to. Bleeding Black is on at Greenside Nicolson Square, venue 209 at 4:20pm. Every day from August 2nd-24th, except Sunday 11th and 18th.