With the new year upon us, we thought we’d have a chat with Kaveh about all things Nearly There Yet, and find out some of the highlights of the year!
What was the process of choosing the name for your company, Nearly There Yet? What does the name mean to you?
I wanted something that expressed a sense of the way nothing is ever finished. I wanted it to have a childlikeness to it. I also wanted it to not really make sense but to be memorable. I eventually came up with it on a bus ride to my house and I could hear a kid talking to his mum. He didn’t use the phrase “are we nearly there yet” but I expected him to, and that’s when the name popped into my head. I think it sums up exactly what I want to do and the work I try to make.
In an imaginary world where funding and practical limitations don't exist, what kind of show would you make?
That’s a crazy question. There is a show by DV8 called The Happiest Day of my life. I can’t remember everything about it but there was a character in it who was in love with a woman that he couldn’t have. She was unattainable. She was also a dancer. There was a part in the show where he was in water (they had a swimming pool on stage in the second half of the show) and it started raining on one patch of the stage. On the rain was projected an image of the woman the man was in love with. He then tried to grasp the woman but of course he couldn’t, as it was a projection on water. As he tried to grasp it, the image broke and we could just see water falling. This image has stuck with me for years. It said something beyond words or tricks or any of the tech involved in making it. You could, of course, describe what it ‘meant’ with words but as soon as you did it would feel somehow undermined or cheapened. All of this sounds very worthy, and generally not what I’m about at all, but, in answer to your question, that’s what kind of work I’d make – and that work often takes a long time to make, which unfortunately in the current political and social climate, where art is hugely undervalued, making work which takes time is very difficult indeed.
To you, what makes a good circus show?
See above. But also, work that has guts and that touches people. I find the question weird ‘a good circus show’. What about just ‘show’. Can I answer that question?! I liked shows by James Thieree a few years ago, but then it all got a bit self indulgent. I hated his last one. And it’s probably not really circus if you’re being purist. I actually really love good trad circus. I saw a company over the summer in Yorkshire in a big top and it was awesome. Fun and over the top and camp and tongue in cheek and ironies in the wrong places. I suppose all of that; something that feels magical but also reveals a degree of humanity. A very good friend of mine once described a performer I love as being generous. That’s what makes a good performer, and a good show – generosity.
In recent years you have collaborated with people from the fields of puppetry, acrobatics, juggling and mask to name a few. Are you thinking of collaborating with other art forms in the future? Which ones are you keen to explore?
I’m keen to explore music more. I work with a lovely man called Liam Quinn quite a bit and I’d love to see what we could come up together using song and voice but in a really different way. We also have a show in the pipeline looking at organ donation. I’m pretty interested in using theatre and circus to explore stories which are not my own.
Has having a child changed your attitude towards your job and/or career aspirations?
Yes. Very much so. It’s mostly made me take stock. I am incredibly fortunate to have a wonderful wife who is incredibly supportive and I think the story would also be very different if I didn’t have her, but having a child has made me feel less pressured about work but also to run around less. I just can’t. Being a good dad, and a good husband, is more important to me than making the show that everyone is talking about. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing in every way, but it certainly gives focus. I actually try to do all three – good dad, good husband, good at my job. And then I try and be a good friend. I get the balance right about 2% of the time but when I do it feels great. Having a child has made me beat myself up less about being perfect. At the end of the day, nothing really matters that much!
What have some of the highlights been of starting and running your own company been? What have been some of the most challenging parts? Highlights – Ed. It’s soppy but he is an amazing person to work with, and he’s my best friend. Every show we make together I appreciate him more. That’ll make him feel beautifully uncomfortable but it’s true.
In terms of life moments, performing The Party on the main stage at The Royal Festival Hall 4 days after having Leilani (my daughter) and two days after receiving the Pinocchio commission money from ARC and Albany was pretty massive. There’s a bit in the show where I say “I’m sorry” and when it works I feel like I am talking to the whole audience and they are talking back. I remember saying that line on that stage and being utterly content with my life. Also, this last week working on Pinocchio has been pretty awesome. Looking at the people I have around me and the genuine support I feel is pretty incredible. I usually just push on through but every now and again I take a second to appreciate it all and to take a certain pride that I’ve made this happen. That’s a good feeling. I’m also really enjoying learning and changing. Running my own company means I can choose directions and I can keep an enormous amount of variety in my life. One thing I never am is bored, and that is an incredibly privileged place to be.
Challenging parts. Being ultimately responsible for it all turning out fine, even though things behind the scenes aren’t going smoothly, is pretty tough. At the end of the day, even if times are hard, you still have to make things fun for the people that work with you. You still have to pay them on time and let them know that they’re valued. And you still have to make good work, because that’s the most important thing. If you’re having a difficult time, that can all be quite hard.
Where do you see Nearly There Yet in 10 years?
I’d love to be able to have a company of performers and creatives who I could work with more consistently and pay better. I’d like to stay outside of boxes and just make good work – family work, outdoor work, circus work, whatever. Sustainability, right now, is key to me. Paying people properly for the work they do, and making high quality, accessible work that doesn’t have to be ‘cool’ or on trend. I just want to be good, you know?