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Interview: Daniel Arco: Bated Breath


Interview

Daniel Arco tells us about the artistic influences behind his new play: Shit Fuck, Shit Fuck, RocknRoll at the Traverse.

Image of Interview: Daniel Arco: Bated Breath

Showing @ Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 22 – Sat 24 Mar

The Scottish theatre scene is currently crying out for young practitioners, more importantly, ones who are writing about modern culture. The generation gap seems evident in professional theatre and if we aren’t training new writers and directors to produce relevant and reflective theatre, who else will in years to come? With that in mind, Daniel Arco’s new play Shit Fuck, Shit Fuck, RocknRoll steps forward to take up the challenge.

There is a fluid, almost elusive, plot to Arco’s play. He explains that ‘the scenes are divided into chapters with voiceovers. In each chapter, we meet different characters. In one we meet a Bob Dylan-ish character who is trying to find beauty; then there’s a photographer – someone whose job it is to find beauty but doesn’t; then there’s a character who’s just a stoner; one is a slut etc’. The play examines their joint search for beauty and ultimately what comes out of it.

I think we act like collages; we have so many influences that we blend it all together

The play’s title comes from Arco’s observations on contemporary social culture and the groups – such as Goths, Hipsters, and Emos – which furnish it. He says that ‘one thing cliques have in common is that cheap philosophy. I think it’s fake. However, I also think it’s logical as when you’re young you want to feel like you belong to something – you want to be cool and have friends. I just want to mock that with the title as all of these characters inhabit the world I have created’.

Arco says that this mix of characters stems from his belief that ‘sometimes, I think we act like collages; we have so many influences that we blend it all together’. Arco’s inspirations are clear in the production process: upon starting, he explains that ‘the initial story was a Serge Gainsbourg reference and was called The Warren‘. At the same time, Arco was influenced quite heavily by The Kills’ song Baby Says before he started listening to Arctic Monkeys. ‘Then I listened to John Cooper Clark, Oasis – those kinds of bands that to some extent reflected the working class. I realised that there isn’t really a band for that nowadays so I got caught up in the idea of young people looking for meaning’.

Arco is working towards a final product which hints at quite a high level of theatrical auteurism

These influences trickle further into his characters, as Arco describes that ‘the drug-taking character is called Mandy, one is called Grace after Grace Kelly, one is called Kit (a reference to Terrence Malick’s Badlands)’. All of these decisions produce a kind of organised chaos to Arco’s artistic development, a style which sees him attempt to unify his collective influences with a celebration of artistic and literary history. Though Arco runs the risk of overcrowding his show, he has produced many redrafts to cut back on the overwhelming content and is ultimately working towards a final product which hints at quite a high level of theatrical auteurism.

What Arco’s play shows is a far-reaching artistic knowledge which praises the various forms of creativity in the arts. His decision to include so many of his personal influences clearly demonstrates a functional understanding of how these pieces fit into a much larger jigsaw and how they reflect different periods in history. Shows like this should be pushed and supported, ones which appreciate the journey of art-forms yet still try to tell us something about how we see the world today.