Awkward Conversations With Animals I've Fucked is one of those play titles you just look at on the bookshelf and go, I need
to see this. I didn't know anything about the show but after seeing the shocking title and noticed later it was soon to open a run at the Kings Head Theatre in Islington I thought, why not aye? I'm glad I did, the show explores fragility, loneliness and mental health in its toxic prime all whilst making us wet ourselves with laughter. I caught up with the Linus Karp, who is staring and producing a nationwide tour of the show for a wee chat, enjoy!
Hey Linus! Tell us about Awkward Conversations With Animals I’ve Fucked and how you became involved with the play.
Hey Nathan! 'Awkward Conversations' is a hilarious and weird play about Bobby, whom after having had no success in human relationships starts turning to animals - though he's not very successful with them either.
I found this play in a bookshop and fell madly in love with it. It was so funny, whilst also being dark, moving and just so clever. I set up a theatre company, worked until I had some money and bought the performing rights.
If you could describe the protagonist Bobby in five words, what would they be?
Awkward. Lonely. Sad. Desperate. And optimistic.
He very much is a loser, but he's trying SO HARD.
As the play is an exploration of loneliness and mental health, how has the show resonated with audiences up and down the country?
Really well. A lot of people are surprised at how emotionally invested they get as they don't expect a bestiality comedy will be able to move them in the way it often does. It's a lot of fun as a performer to do something where you have the audience laughing a lot, but also feeling unsettled, tense and constantly on the edge.
What made you want to produce and perform in this play?
No other script had resonated as much with me. Not only did I love the text - I needed to get to perform it, it felt like all the words and jokes were written directly for me. I had to do it before someone else put on a new production of it. It wasn't as if I had a choice.
You first did this play back in 2017 at the Lion and Unicorn Theatre. What’s kept you going the last two years?
The love for it. And the fact that every run has been new and exciting in different ways, it's like we've taken it to a new level every time. It's also been such an incredible learning experience as a performer, I've grown in confidence and have learned how to handle a one-person play and how to manage different types of audiences.
What’s the best bit of advice you got as an emerging artist wanting to pursue a career in the arts?
As someone who struggles with confidence, I find it worth reminding myself that your worth isn't dependent on what you're doing at the moment or how many acting jobs you've got. You are great. Even if you fail at auditions or put in performances you're unhappy with, or aren't seen at all - you're great. Most of the time as an actor you will not be working with what you want, and the industry is tough, so remember that you're great and no number of rejections will ever change that. I would also say that you should always want to learn from EVERYTHING. So much about being an actor is just about being curious. And embracing and showing the sides of yourself you don't necessarily like.
How does the Swedish theatre set-up compare to the British model, are there any striking differences?
We don't have the culture of pub theatres, or pubs in general for that matter, so that's a big difference. Pretty much every bigger city in Sweden will have a "city theatre" that the region helps fund with permanently employed actors. But the UK theatre scene is a lot bigger - Sweden after all has a much smaller population spread out over a much larger country.
What difficulties have you faced in taking the show on the road?
Money. The financial side is the most difficult and stressful aspect of producing the show. Despite the show being critically successful and always getting good numbers, there are a lot of costs surrounding it, and since the beginning I have self funded the production, and I've always made sure everyone involved gets paid. For the national tour I did set up a crowdfunder as I just didn't see it being possible otherwise.
What’s the most awkward interaction with an animal you’ve ever had?
Haha, great question, luckily they're not on Bobby's level! As I'm from the Swedish forests I have had the odd encounter with elks or deer. But probably as a child when I met a peacock that had escaped from a zoo. I was playing in the woods outside my house and it was just walking right at me, without looking away or stopping. Ultimately I had to run home to my parents, who would not believe me. When it then became known that other people had spotted it as well I felt victorious.
And lastly… What’s your favourite kind of biscuit, Linus?
My oldest childhood friend's mum makes THE BEST cookies. They're a version of Swedish syrup cookies, and she adds chocolates and they are just the best. They're the main reasons I still go back to Sweden. Shoutout to Helena.
You can donate to Linus' Indiegogo campaign here https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/awkward-conversations-with-animals-i-ve-f-cked--2#/