This Is Not Culturally Significant: An interview with Adam Scott-Rowley
Adam Scott-Rowley is already a powerhouse of theatrical ability. Actor, writer and director, he founded his own theatre company, Out of Spite Theatre, and is also a member of comedy sketch ensemble Gein’s Family Giftshop. His eccentric and confronting one-hander This Is Not Culturally Significant debuted at Edinburgh Fringe before going on to London’s Vault Festival, where it was awarded Show of the Week. For the entire performance, notably, Adam remains completely nude. But that’s not all that sets this bizarre show apart from the rest. We caught up with him to find out what audiences have been making of it, and how it came into being in the first place.
What has been your most memorable audience reaction to This Is Not Culturally Significant?
There have been many walkouts and heckles over the past few years, but I think the worst one was one night in Edinburgh last year when a couple had had too much to drink and were talking over me and shouting throughout the first 20 minutes of the show. It was so distracting but my rule with any disturbances is to always deal with them in character. It got to the point where they were ruining the show for everyone else so I asked them to leave as three different characters. They argued with me for a bit then stormed out of the auditorium. They then tried to wait around after the show to start a fight with me. Another memorable post-show interaction was when someone came up to me and remarked on “how deeply ashamed” of myself I should be for creating such a piece of theatre.
As the creator and performer of the piece, what do you get out of it yourself? What sort of mood do you come away in?
My mood after the show depends very much on the mood created in the theatre. There are lots of really sharp emotional turns in the play and it’s my job to keep everyone on the same page. Be it utter despair or hilarious grotesqueness. The play works at its best when we all move together. If I feel I’ve managed this, then I get a sense of achievement after the show.
What was your experience of last year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival?
I had a great time! Doing fewer shows and the right time slot made a huge difference compared to the previous year.
What advice would you give to an Edinburgh Fringe first-timer in order to get the most out of it?
Don’t perform every day. Don’t compare yourself to others; perceived success is often a result of people’s PR budget rather than the quality of their work. Be prepared to lose money.
What is it that draws us towards dark subjects? Is it an inescapable part of human nature?
“Dark” subjects are only dark because people make them so in considering them as taboo. They are as inescapable a part of human nature as light subjects are.
When you first conceive of a show, which element usually comes first?
Has the show made its way into your dreams yet?
What is life other than one long nightmare?
Tell us a little about Out of Spite Theatre.
I founded Out of Spite Theatre in 2014 after leaving LAMDA. The company strives to create confrontational, unsettling and high-intensity theatre. My focus for the company is rooted deeply in defying traditional theatrical norms and playing with form by combining the use of bouffon, clown and in-yer-face theatre. Our next show People Who Need People is a devised show with a cast of six actors, which is running the week after TINCS at Vault Festival from 7th until 11th March 2018. It will be an intriguing slow burner with perhaps a slightly gentler tone to it than TINCS.
What are you most looking forward to about taking the show to Denmark?
I imagine the audiences over there will speak better English than I do so I doubt it’ll be that different. Teater Katapult looks like a great venue for the show and I feel so humbled to be able to travel with my work internationally.
Thank you, Adam.
This Is Not Culturally Significant is at the Vault Festival 2018 on 2nd and 3rd March 2018. For further information or to book visit the festival website here.
For further information about Out of Spite Theatre visit the company’s website here.
Watch the trailer for This Is Not Culturally Significant here: