Some words on the ancestry of ‘The Thrill of It All’

Some words on the ancestry of The Thrill of It All from Artistic Director Tim Etchells:

You’re right to see those connections back across to Showtime, and of course to First Night, which is very much a brother or sister show to Thrill. We do seem to get drawn back to this territory of what we call disastrous vaudeville every once in a while… and with it to those themes about community or lack of it, about the voyeurism of theatre and about its cruelty, which are always knotted in (for us at least) to the wider social landscape in which other voyeurisms and cruelties operate so nakedly these days. It’s interesting with Thrill because I think it’s less focused on the audience than First Night, which was pretty much obsessed with causing trouble (albeit playfully) in that department. Thrill on the other hand seems to direct most of its violence inwards – the performers less pointing a finger off the stage and more inclined to be attacking each other. I think there’s an amplified hysteria to it – the harsh gender divisions, the unreal masked voices, the completely overblown physicality – that really separates it from FN too and which for me take it into very different territory. There’s something much more grotesque and amplified about Thrill – which for me marks it as pretty definitely post X-Factor, post Big Brother and (more generally) post-television where FN always seemed to have walked right off the end of the pier. I think the work has shifted itself in relation to the landscape, and the very particular breed of politics and social mess we’re in right now. Thrill rehearsals were very much in the Cameron pre-election phase, and yes, that was the backdrop, and often what we were talking about as we started work each day. Your notes on the timing of ST, FN and now Thrill are quite right in that sense. I do think there was more than enough interesting stuff to go back to (seeing some of it as a return to a place), and at the same time more than enough new territory for us to explore in making Thrill. Fake belonging, fake community masking cruelty and division will be reaching new heights in the coming years I think. It’s 26 years we’ve been making work and I know that we go in cycles to an extent – returning to territory later in order to re-examine when it feels relevant to do so. And now is the time.

Tim Etchells