Interview with Ed Stephen

Ed is a big part of Nearly There Yet, being part of a many of our productions and doing a lot of work behind the scenes. We thought we’d take a moment to ask him some questions!

How did your character, Ed Bazazi, come about? 
With the Bazazi Brothers, Kaveh and I wanted to have a show that we could have fun doing more than anything else and I guess is the manifestation of our shared sense of humour - and one thing we always like is someone who is ridiculous but takes themselves incredibly seriously. I guess for the style of the act the influences that we talked about were kind of semi-dated showbiz performers in the vein of David Copperfield in vegas but although its all stupid stuff really there are so many things we do and say in the show that are connected to things that I genuinely love like dance moves from Patrick Swayze and Michael Jackson or the music of the Dazz Band and Isaac Hayes - Its kind of funny that things we do that make these people really cool just make us more amusing in a way. I guess Edward Bazazi is different to his brother as he is a little more highly strung and probably thinks he is the cooler one of the two, though if there is any truth to that we will have to see. 

What is the most fun thing about performing the Bazazi's? 
Performing the Bazazi Brothers show is pretty much all fun, but the thing I like the most is seeing people enjoying it and I actually love getting the member of the audience out for the Heinrich manoeuvre. When I’m briefing them for their part of the act they are usually all good with it but I save the bit about having to do a dance routine with us til last as thats the bit they get most nervous about but they always rise to the challenge and smash it. Its also fun as its the one time in the show where I am talking to a member of the audience directly and not scripted or in character so it’s like a real connection to have with them which is cool 

As is the nature of juggling, sometimes things don't go to plan. Is there one moment which stands out to you as being particularly difficult to style out? If so, how did you do it? 
The newest thing in the show is the finale with the ball spinning and it has gone wrong a few times, usually due to my own nerves and sweaty hands. as I am standing on Kaveh’s shoulders it’s pretty obvious that its gone wrong so there is no hiding it, though what we have found is that the audience actually really get behind us to go for it again and shows them that its a hard trick (even though it isn’t really compared to some of the other bits of the show but it adds to the theatre of it all). We have talked about adding in a fail in on purpose to get a better pay off but to be honest I get so stressed about it that if I can nail it first time I am much happier and don't think I could handle a planned failure! 

ballsinmouth.jpg

How long have you been a performer and how did you get into it? 
My mum would tell you that I have always been an exhibitionist which I can neither confirm or deny but I guess I really got into it when I joined Albert and Friends Instant Circus in my early teens, they took me all over the world and I got a taste for being on stage and in front of an audience which I guess has never left me so I would say its been 20 years or so with some gaps. 

Have you seen a show/piece of work recently that you have liked?
I saw Gibbon by Chris Patfield and Jose Triguero up at the Edinburgh and it was my favourite thing I saw. I have seen it develop over the past couple years and I have to say its great. It had a great technical level of skill in it while being both complex and intelligent in its structure while being accessible. When I saw it a 10 year old kid was laughing all the way through but at the same time there was something to ponder over how it was constructed and made. It's a great example of contemporary circus and I really enjoyed it. 

Apart from being a Bazazi, what other projects do you have going on at the moment? What should we look out for? 
I have a few things going on at the moment I just got back from a week of RnD with the awesome Simple Cypher guys and was helping them create new material for a new outdoor show they are planning to make next year which was great fun and I am back working with the Street Circus Collective at the Roundhouse now which is exciting as we have just taken on a new cohort and have a new team working with them. I’m pretty sure they are gonna make some awesome work and I believe they will have a big outdoor performance in Spring 2019 so keep your eyes open for that. I also scratched a new show with John Berkavitch this year about his two year addiction to Pokemon Go which was an immersive interactive game show that was fun to devise along side the wonderful Andrea Spisto, and hopefully we will be developing it in 2019 along with running our annual Cross Arts Lab. now in its 4th year, taking place in January, we get a bunch of artists, poets, dancers and performers all together for a week of workshops and some speedy devising to explore cross arts practice (check out the highlights of last year here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ggoscH8EMno


Aside from that I have been banging out mixtapes on a fairly regular basis and you can check them out at https://www.mixcloud.com/edspoons/ and will be DJing at a party with my good friends #UNiTY at the white hart in new cross on the 23rd November so come along and dance like a Bazazi if you are around!