We got talking to Home Sweet Home writer and performer Kaveh Rahnama about his balancing skills, the EU referendum and a stuffed toy dog called Ruff.
Home Sweet Home is an autobiographical show, so why don’t you start by telling us a bit about yourself?
I'm a Londoner, born and bred. I have an Iranian dad and a Welsh mum. I'm a circus performer who specialises in hand to hand acrobatics (I'm a base) and I'm also a juggler. I set up Nearly There Yet in 2015 and since then have produced 2 outdoor pieces, two pieces of work for adults - including Home Sweet Home, and 2 pieces of family theatre - the last of which, Pinocchio, played at the Albany for a month in December and will be touring at the end of 2019 as well as being performed at a very exciting London venue for Christmas!
I have a two year old daughter who takes up a large portion of my time. I also have a very lovely, supportive wife who is very understanding about my often weird and unsociable schedule. My favourite acrobatic trick is called a snakey, my favourite colour is red, my hero is probably Freddie Mercury, and my favourite food is Pho (it's a Vietnamese noodle soup).
If I had more time I'd like to read more books and experience silence more often.
How did Home Sweet Home come about?
It was a mixture of events. It started as an outdoor show called Memory Man in 2015 but I realised pretty quickly the themes I wanted to explore didn't really work outdoors. They were too detailed and needed the focus of an indoor space. As 2016 rolled in and the European referendum came along, so did my daughter, and my wedding, and lots of feelings of my own sense of identity set against the backdrop of British identity came to the fore. I've always felt on the outside of lots of elements of 'British' culture and experiences and the vote to leave made lots of things make sense.
I worked for a while with writer/director Umar Butt on the initial research and development to establish many of the themes and some of the content of the piece. I then decided to work with Lilac Yosiphon after seeing her piece, Jericho's Rose, as it touched on so many cross over themes and I really enjoyed the style. I have also brought in the amazing Angela Gasparetto as movement director as I felt I wanted to really dig in to the physicality of the piece a bit more (last year it was almost entirely text driven). She is an incredible collaborator and I love having her brain in the room. I have then brought on board long time Nearly There Yet collaborators Alison Alexander (designer), Will Monks (lighting design), Liam Quinn (sound design). It's a team I feel very humbled and excited to be part of.
Can you tell us a little about how you have incorporated your circus skills into the show?
I'm an acrobatic base by training so one of the biggest challenges was how to use this skill with props, rather than a person. The juggling was less complex but I've really tried to work on telling the story with both the skills used, rather than performing acts of gratuitous circus - which I also love, just not in this context!
The show discusses themes of politics, class and racism, but also contains a lot of humour and circus elements. Was it tricky to balance these? (pun intended!)
Yes and no. I am not really into making work that is all about the trick so anything physical or circus related has to have its place in the story. The table I balance is sometimes tricky to balance though, yes! Not really using it for what it was designed for. We've had to have it reinforced so I can jump about on it. This makes it quite a bit heavier than expected! The juggling has fitted in pretty easily. At the time of writing we're only about two thirds through so who knows what else will pop up!
It’s a one-man show but we hear you’ll be sharing the stage – tell us more…
There's a lovely giant soft dog called Ruff who often ends of being the villain in lots of the stories. He's actually my daughter's (sshhhhh, she hasn't clocked I've got him!) and was given to us by a very dear friend and fellow circus performer, Francesca Martello. I make a house from, and even recreate being on top of a giant ball juggling in Edinburgh with, a table and chairs. And I use a lamp as a spear in the re-telling of my Persian name.
What can audiences expect from the show?
Spectacle, good stories, new thoughts, lots of laughter and lots of warmth.
Lift pitch time! Why should people come and see Home Sweet Home?
Because you won't have seen anything quite like it before. It's a beautiful, well crafted show, that starts a conversation with its audience. You will gasp, smile, learn something, and cry a bit in equal measure. You'll feel smug because you were there to see it and your friends weren't. You'll also probably feel more able to maybe talk about some of the stuff that was bothering you but you didn't have the words to say why.
Home Sweet Home
Home Sweet Home is the story of a part Iranian, part Welsh, part who cares, part everybody cares, Londoner who just doesn’t fit in. Or at least that’s how he feels.
Fri 15 - Sat 16 Feb
Book now >>
Home Sweet Home
Fri 15 - Sat 16 Feb
Book now >>