(Scenes in a dressing Room)
By Kieron Self and Francois Padolfo
Due to lockdown, Welsh actors and writers Keiron Self (aka buzz film guru) and Francois Padolfo have produced a quarantine podcast called The Fifteen about two actors in a dressing room at their quarter hour call.
It’s an impro/comedy which has been recorded separately, in keeping with social distance rules, which has been no mean feat, given the nature of improvisation and connection issues.
We chatted to Kieron Self about the reasoning behind this podcast and the future of the arts in Wales.
How and why did you and Francois decide to do this?
Initially The Fifteen was conceived as a time sensitive 15 minute TV show but it failed to find a home as we are not famous enough really. So, we thought in the age of the podcast we’d see if we could make it work on that platform, initially as a fun project for us but as we grew a bit more confident with it, and became a bit more technically adept, we thought we’d try and get it out there.
How technically difficult was this as you recorded this apart and presumably you don’t have the budget of Staged?
We’ve been meeting once a week to record over a thing called Clean feed which keeps the conversation mostly sounding ok, despite the fact that we are in houses on opposite sides of Cardiff. We did manage to record one before lockdown happened, the rest have kept us going over the weeks, giving us some sort of focus! There is no budget!
We’re basically using mics and computers and GarageBand with some excellent technical knowhow from Ben Tyreman. Often we’ve had to postpone a recording mid way through as the wifi signal has been dodgy especially with everyone at home on various devices but we’ve managed to cobble enough stuff together to make episodes.
How close to personal experiences are the two Characters?
There’s obviously a heightened element of ourselves to the actors involved in the recordings. It’s the sort of mock actor conversation we would have in the dressing room before a show, well me and Fran do anyway. We don’t take ourselves too seriously. Hopefully we are not as horrible, offensive and cringeworthy as they are!
How do you think the Arts specifically Theatre in Wales will survive post Covid?
It’s a very difficult time at the moment. It feels very bleak. The arts being devalued – not as important as football – when most of what people have been doing in lockdown is turning to the arts for entertainment. Without grass roots encouragement of the arts, none of the programmes we’ve all been bingeing on would exist.
That means theatres, inclusive drama groups in communities, places for people to be creative and share their work. It’s a massive global industry, bringing in huge revenue to the Uk and needs help to get through this, otherwise there’s going to be a massive hole in our culture and future creative voices will be silenced.
We’ve had a great response and have enjoyed making something artistically in a period when our profession has been decimated by covid-19. Hopefully art and comedy always has a way of getting through.
What do you think needs to be done to ensure the arts in Wales has a future?
These are unprecedented times so it’s hard to pinpoint what shape we can be in for the future. The arts are built on freelancers, the self employed, who often scrape a living anyway. Wales needs to break down and re-examine some of it’s arts structures, funding and opportunities to make diverse work people will go and see. There are lean times ahead but I can’t wait to go and see a live performance again. The arts are very good at persevering and adapting – hence The Fifteen!
Will you carry on these podcasts post Covid?
Yes, we will be continuing with the podcasts, but hopefully we’ll be able to record them together again, in the same room, rather than over a frustrating intermittent wifi!
The Fifteen podcast, episode 1 can be found here.
Words: Jasper Haze