Note: This review is from the 2016 Fringe

The success of the recent Homeless World Cup in Glasgow has done much to focus the attention on a group of people who are all too often stigmatised, dismissed or forgotten. Yet, if fate or fortune turns against us, we could all be one of them. That thought was in New Zealander Tim Carlsen’s mind when he created the piece he is bringing to the Gilded Balloon for this year’s Fringe. One Day Moko was inspired by the experience of real life homeless people, as the performer himself told us…

Who are you and what are you doing in Edinburgh?

Hi! My name is Tim Carlsen, a theatre maker and performer who’s travelling from the other side of the world, New Zealand to be specific, to perform my solo show One Day Moko at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival this August.

Fringe first-timer or old hand?

First-timer to Fringe! First-timer to the UK!

You trained at the Wooster Group. For those who don’t know, can you tell us a bit more about the company?

The Wooster Group are a legendary experimental arts company based in New York City, and not surprisingly located on Wooster Street. The company dabble in theatre, dance and film in a variety of ways and have an incredible ability of clashing different styles and genres in performance, from B grade sci-fi films to baroque operas. They’ve been around since 1975 which is testament to a company that doesn’t seem to set itself many boundaries when it comes to style and is constantly breaking its own rules.

What gave you the desire to make this piece?

I’ve always been curious about communities that live on the fringes of our society and the ways in which they survive. It wasn’t until I travelled to New York City and saw a lot of homeless that I started to think about how the issue of homelessness affected New Zealand. When I returned to NZ I thought the most logical way would be to volunteer at a drop-in centre and see what I could discover about the homeless lifestyle.

How did you research it?

I started by volunteering at a drop-in centre in Wellington during my third year of actor training at Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School. There would always be two volunteers present and each shift would last around three hours. Our work consisted mostly of making cups of tea and coffee and cooking instant noodles. I was able to meet a range of individuals who mostly lived on the streets of Wellington or simply needed a place to go to have a chat. I did other stints of volunteering at other organisations that catered to the homeless and played several football games with the Wellington homeless football team, who, at the time were training for the Homeless World Cup. As you can gather, my experiences and observations of these communities allowed me to build an insight into the homeless lifestyle.

What were the realities of homeless life that struck you most?

The thing that struck me the most was the strong sense of routine that existed in this lifestyle. In order to survive we all need to eat, sleep and be able to socialise. I think it’s this routine, no matter how mundane it might seem, that keeps people moving forward in life and ultimately what keeps us alive.

Have those organisations and people you spent time with seen the show? What was their reaction?

The show was most recently performed to folk from the Auckland City Mission and youth from Nga Rangatahi Toa (a Maori organisation that works with at-risk youth). The best response we got was ‘Bro! It felt like I was watching parts of myself during your show, like a mirror!’ and ‘That was pretty out of it.’ Post-show we ran an informal lunch and held a Q&A where our audience could have a conversation with the company and discover more about the show. Some of the community didn’t realise that I was playing a “character” during the show, so couldn’t understand why I was dressed differently after the show.

What would you like to achieve with the show?

We want our audience to open their eyes when they leave the theatre. To realise that being human can often be hard, awkward, joyful, painful, pleasurable, confusing; the problem is I don’t think we often get to tell ourselves that it’s “okay” to go through these multitudes of emotions without feeling like we want to give up.

What are you looking forward to most about August?

I’m looking forward to being an audience member and receiving the largest dose of live performance I’ve ever experienced. Ever. I’ve also got a soft spot for whisky so I’m looking forward to doing a whisky tasting or two.

One Day Moko is @ Gilded Balloon Teviot from Wed 3 – Fri 29 Aug 2016 @ 15:45