George Mann is the co-artistic director of Bristol-based theatre company Ad Infinitum. Together, he and his partner Nir Paldi have been making theatre as Ad Infinitum for over 10 years. Here, George talks about their latest collaboration, No Kids:
As well as being very close collaborators, Nir and I are also partners in real life. Up until now, when one of us directs a production, the other supports in various ways – as a dramaturg, in an admin capacity, and so on and we continually take turns to direct Ad Infinitum plays. But with our new production, we’re doing things differently.
No Kids is a new play exploring the personal journey that Nir and I embarked upon when we asked the question: as a gay couple, should we have children? The exploration has opened up all sorts of other topics, such as – should we be making more babies in an increasingly overpopulated world? And is our society truly open to the idea of two dads? The play, like the journey we’ve been on, has had to find a style that encompasses the chaotic thought process parents-to-be go through when we stop, and start to seriously consider having children. And as a result, the style of the piece grew into an eclectic mix of new writing, devised theatre, gender-bending musical cabaret, and verbatim interviews marrying dance and music. It’s not yet finished, but we’re about to enter into a three-week preview season in July which culminates in two preview performances at The North Wall. We will then head to the Edinburgh Festival for the world premiere in August.
As a gay teenager coming out in the early 90’s I had accepted my fate: I would not be able to give my Mum and Dad grandkids. Or so I thought. Ever since I have known Nir, he has talked about wanting to have kids. And for a long time, I was not interested – at all. But the creative process of No Kids awoke something in me that I had supressed for a long time. I wasn’t prepared for how I’d feel. I realised that my lack of interest in having children was in fact a coping mechanism to protect myself, because I had believed for so long that it just wouldn’t be possible.
So No Kids became a personal journey and an awakening, and it has also been an edifying experience exploring how we might go about having children – through adoption or surrogacy, for example – and whether we even should. I have learnt so much. But ultimately, our production is about love, and there’s hope too – in each other, we are seeing our potential as fathers that could be and discovering not only a new play that we couldn’t have conceived without each other, but through a deeply personal and challenging process we glimpse the possibility of a new family.
Previews of No Kids will take place at The North Wall on 27 and 28 July at 7.30pm – book tickets here. The show will be performed at the Edinburgh Fringe at Pleasance Courtyard from 1 – 27 August at 3.40pm daily.