Interview: Linus Karp - how to live a jellicle life
I first met Linus a few years back watching his critically acclaimed production of Rob Hayes’ Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve Fucked, at the Kings Head Theatre. Other than being an exceptionally self-produced show, I was struck by Linus' utterly endearing nature and couldn’t wait to see what Awkward Productions would do next. This year he’s written and directed his own show! how to live a jellicle life: life lessons from the 2019 hit movie musical 'cats' will be opening at The Lion & Unicorn Theatre next week and he’s kindly answered some questions for us about the show, his process and the best Christmas film!
Hey Linus! I have to admit something here...I’ve never seen Cats (sorry..) so please explain to me what exactly is a Jellicle?
Though it's meaning is never defined in Cats - we are told that jellicle cats can "see in the dark", are "lean like a lynx", "can sing at the same time in more than one key", "jump like a jumping jack" and would not only "look at a king", but also "sit on his throne" - showing that skill, agility, energy, musicality, talent and bravery is all jellicle. Hence I use "jellicle" as an umbrella term - covering every positive adjective possible. Being called jellicle is the ultimate compliment.
The title of the show is quite precise but is there anything you can tell us about the new show and where the initial ideas came from?
Believe it or not - the idea for the show came from the 2019 hit movie musical Cats! I've dug into every aspect of the film to find jellicle meaning and purpose behind the actions and characters. The show is educational, joyful and gay - all the things we need more of in 2020!
Awkward Productions last show Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve Fucked was also a solo show - what are the best & worst aspects of doing a solo show?
One of the best things is the relationship you have with the audience - which feels even stronger and more special than when you have others with you on stage. The worst is definitely that it can get very lonely!
What’s the best & worst gig you’ve ever done?
Best might be when I ended my tour of "Awkward Conversations" in London last year. Knowing it was the last show of what had been such a treasured project to me it was very emotional, and having a full audience of wonderful, supportive people made it most special. My worst gig was my first party during my very brief stint as a children's entertainer - A two hour long nightmare where the kids were fighting, screaming, crying, running away, trying to take my equipment... I can't hear Happy by Pharrell without having traumatic flashbacks.
What does the writing process look like for you? Do you write a script then get it up on its feet to block or do you devise material first in a studio and then put it together?
This year I've lived and breathed Cats - so writing about it was just a natural progression. It was very much just me typing on a keyboard and occasionally reading things out loud to my partner to see if it worked. Then when I took it up on its feet and started rehearsing I could change the script as I saw fit - even throughout the run I kept tweaking it to make sure the jellicality shone through.
What advice do you have for emerging artists trying to navigate their way through the industry at the minute?
Have fun, whatever you do - do it for yourself and dare to create your own work. Watch as much and as wide a range theatre as you can. Support the arts of others the way you want them to support yours.
How do the Swedish and British theatre industries differ?
I grew up in the Swedish forest, went to drama school and then moved to London - so I honestly don't know too much about the theatre scene in Sweden. I think one of the main differences is pub theatres - which is such a British thing and doesn't exist in the same way in Sweden. For its size Sweden has got some very cool and interesting venues, but the diversity and range of British theatre really is outstanding and I do hope we all in our power to make sure it survives this horrid year as well as it can.
Where can people buy tickets & support the show?
Great question! Head to linktr.ee/jellicle and you'll be sorted! I obviously understand that everyone may not be able to attend, but if you want to support this or other shows through this tricky time - following and sharing social media content on your profiles is always a great idea. You can find my company at @awkwardprods and me at @linuskarp
Last but not least - what’s your fave Christmas film, Linus?
Obviously Cats. Cats is the true Christmas Miracle and if you come to the Lion and Unicorn Theatre 15-19th December I will tell you why!