Playwright Rob Drummond has literally thrown himself into his new show, not simply writing and pulling together the elements that go into it but also choosing to learn the art of wrestling and put it into practice live on stage.
Drummond has a passion for this much denigrated sport and those who take part in it, he embraces its theatricality but also hopes to give the audience an idea of the athleticism and courage required to take part. In advance of the show at the Arches in Glasgow from the 9th to the 13th of February, The Wee Review managed to take Drummond away from practising his holds for a few minutes to to submit to our questioning.
Lets start with the obvious question: Why wrestling?
I’ve followed wrestling since the age of eight and whilst some people grow out of it I never have. Wrestling’s where theatre meets sport and I’ve always loved theatre and I love sport so it seemed the obvious step. Ever since I became a theatre professional I’ve had it in the back of my mind that when I got the right people, the right budget and the right circumstances I’d do this show.
This isn’t a straight theatrical piece there are other elements in there, can you tell us about them?
The show uses theatre, documentary and pro-wrestling and there are elements of all three mixed in together but that’s as much as I can really say. I’m being very careful about giving too much away before it starts as I want to audience to experience the show without any preconceptions.
How much training did you have to put in to prepare for the show?
I’ve basically been treated like any other rookie in the Scottish Wrestling Alliance system, in fact I’ve probably done a little more training than average because I’ve been able to commit to it full time whereas most people have to fit it in with their normal job as there are very few people able make a living as a full time wrestler in the UK. I’ve done three days a week wrestling training down at the SWA facility in Linwood and two days with a personal trainer at Shawlands doing weights and cardio vascular training so it really has been very intense, probably the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.
I’d say that this really is a show that’s changed my life
Outside of wanting to examine the world of wrestling are there any wider themes to the work?
It’s kind of autobiographical in as much as the piece will tackle my life of being non-confrontational, backing out of fights throughout my life. I don’t really like to intellectualise my work too much but if there is a deeper theme then it does examine aspects of what it means to be a modern man and masculinity as a whole with the blurring of gender roles and whether violence is accepted as a way of dealing with things in the same way now as it used to be.
There’s also the theme of reality, wrestling’s the weirdest sport I’ve ever come across hovering between theatricality and reality. When we fall we really are hitting wood and metal there’s no faking that its almost like a form of aggressive dance.
You said you’d had the idea for this show for some time did the popularity of the Darren Aronofsky film The Wrestler spur you in any way?
Actually, it had nothing to do with it. At the time the film came out I’d just written a standard play about a wrestler and whilst I can’t say that the film stopped it from happening there were certainly people who looked at it as if I was jumping on the bandwagon. I’ve had this idea for over five years, ever since I started working in professional theatre. But, if the popularity of the film helps get a few more people seeing the show then I’m certainly not complaining.
Finally after such an immersive experience as this what’s next for you?
Firstly, I’ve booked two weeks off to lie in bed and recover and after that I’m planning to keep up with the training at least a couple of days of weeks because it’s true what they say; it does make you feel better. Without being trite I’d say that this really is a show that’s changed my life and after this I’ve not intention to got back to the same Rob I was before.