Adrian Howells creates an equal exchange between performer and audience
Glasgow-based performer and the Arches artist-in-residence Adrian Howells has two shows debuting at the Fringe this year: May I Have the Pleasure …? and The Pleasure of Being: Washing, Feeding, Holding. In the first, Howells muses upon the irony of feeling isolated at a wedding and invites members of the audience to join him for a last slow dance. In the second show, a one-to-one experience, Howells treats participants to a TLC session that includes a luxurious bath, a fluffy towel and Belgian chocolates. It sounds lovely, but what’s with all the pleasure?
‘We need pleasure in our lives,’ says Howells. ‘I’m offering audiences a chance to engage with what it means to experience total pleasure, total care. I’m bathing you, drying you, holding you and feeding you chocolates, really giving you an opportunity to give yourself up to it. And with May I Have the Pleasure …? I’m offering a moment of one-on-one intimacy through dance, but within a collective experience.’
Howells has been conceiving this kind of intimate performances for the past ten years. Having grown weary of playing to audiences of up to 700, where he felt any meaningful connection to individuals became impossible, he rejected big crowds for increasingly smaller ones. That trend appeared to have found its apotheosis in Foot Washing for the Sole, Howells’ award-winning 2009 Fringe show in which he treated audience members to a foot spa. But he’s gone one better still with The Pleasure of Being. And it does, indeed, sound very pleasurable, but there is, Howells says, a deeper meaning.
‘I went into one-on-one work because I wanted an equal exchange between performer and audience. I wanted to really connect with an individual and make it something cherish-able and genuine. And there are moments when you puncture the performance and it is something real.’
May I Have the Pleasure … ?, Traverse at the Point Hotel, 228 1404, 17–28 Aug (not 25 & 26), 7.45pm (3pm 18 Aug), £17–£19 (£12–£13). Previews 15 & 16 Aug, £12 (£6)
The Pleasure of Being: Washing, Traverse at the Point Hotel, 228 1404, 19–28 Aug (not 20), 2pm, 2.40pm, 3.20pm, 4pm, 4.40pm, £12.50.