NAME: Nick Pages-Oliver // ROLE: Co-writer + Co-composer + Performer
// SHOW: Fish in the Sea
What was the first performance you were in?
When I was ten, I moved to England with my folks for a year. Being dreadful at sport, I was slightly ostracised, so my parents enrolled me in acting classes. Being the token Australian, I was cast as Dame Edna in my school’s Christmas pantomime. Being dreadful at sport, I threw a bunch of gladioli into the face of a lady in the first row. I’m better at sport now, but still dressing in drag, for Fish in the Sea.
Do you have any irrational hates or fears?
Flying insects that bite and sting, which I suppose isn’t irrational. My fear of flying insects that cause no harm is probably a bit more irrational. Two years ago, I was stung by a bee for the first time in my life, on a train, on the Freo line. After avoiding any closeness to bees for my whole life, I was stung unawares, on the neck. It made my heart race, which definitely wasn’t helped by my drinking a Red Bull at the time. I looked around at the other passengers and considered calling out, in case I was going into anaphylaxis. Instead, I opted to obey public order, and maybe just die on the train to not cause a fuss. I was totally fine, but still. Now, flying insects that cause no harm represent this moment of trauma, losing innocence, and sweatiness.
Dog, cat, or indifferent to pets?
Cat, man. Cats. I find it kind of weird that most dogs started out as wolves, and were bred by people to be more loyal and employable. It seems selfish to make an animal that has to love you unconditionally. Plus, they never leave you alone. You could say that cats were bred in the same way from various larger cats, but look at them! They haven’t changed! They’re just smaller. You have to earn a cat’s loyalty, by being respectful of them, and treating them with a firm kindness, and giving them their space and agency to live out their natural, nature-destroying lives. It’s like practice for dealing with people, only scratchier.
Who are your major influences? What kind of work do you want to create?
Generally, I want to make comedy, because it’s really powerful, important, and transformative stuff. Of course, all those serious plays about serious things have their place… and they generally win all the awards for whatever reason. But I don’t want to make work for panels of judges. I want to make work for theatre sceptics. That’s why we formed Bastard Theatre. Our plays are easy to watch, and our first goal is to make you laugh. Rest assured however, all our stories are about ‘ideas’ and ‘issues’ and ‘drama’, just like the serious ones, but we’re exploring all of that in a fun way. As far as influences go, I like brave comedians, like Andy Kaufman, Bill Hicks, Matt Stone and Trey Parker, Sacha Baron Cohen, and the currently in vogue, Louis CK. Locally, I love a heap, but I’m influenced by the stuff that is, above all, freakin’ fun: the Proximity gang, The Wet Weather Ensemble, The Big Hoo-Haa and all its iterations, and of course, The Last Great Hunt. I also love The Simpsons. That show might just be my biggest influence, in creating work, and living life.
What excites you about Perth?
The opportunities for artists to create new stuff, the artists who continue to do it, and the willingness of Perth to engage with it. It’s a magical city, with all the worldliness and temperament to help you succeed, if you believe it. I also think Melbourne is a magical city, and Sydney, and London, and wherever else you want to move to because “Perth sucks”. Of course there are social, economic, and environmental problems with this fine city – but that stuff’s universal, and it can even bring you down about a dream town abroad. People can find happiness in any place, and the clear skies, irrepressible beaches, open space, and darling/deadly fauna make it really easy to be happy in Perth. I’m excited to wake up in my home every day.
Fish in the Sea is presented by The Blue Room Theatre Summer Nights & Bastard Theatre as part of FRINGE WORLD 2015.
Find out more about Fish in the Sea here.