Interview lead by Charlie White
On Friday 5th May we were lucky enough to be able to get an interview with a cast member from the innovative new show Soho (at the Peacock Theatre until 20th May), Daniel Ash. In the show Daniel’s main number is a drag aerial act.
So how did you get involved with the show?
” I was doing a circus degree at the National Centre for Circus Arts. This time last year Stufish came to the school and worked with us in our second year to do a Workshop of the show. This is where we made the first version of the show which was 40 minutes then over the last six weeks we’ve been in France turning it in to an hour and half long show. I came in to circus quite late, I actually did a science degree first.”
So what got you in to the Circus then?
“Well I’ve always loved acting growing up but I always thought I should try and get a proper job. When I left Sheffield University and finished the degree I just wanted to follow my passion so I became an actor and I did a lord of the flies tour. Then I did a cabaret course at the Roundhouse for 18-25 year olds where I worked with Marisa Carneski. I also, in Soho did a stripper competition, so the combination of these two things got me in to cabaret and stripping so the last four years I’ve been on the cabaret scene with loads of different acts. I do quite a bit of drag as well, but then I saw circus cabaret show Limbo at London Wonderground and I watched the circus artists and I thought I want to do that so I started doing evening classes. Six months after that I auditioned for circus school and got in.”
So what is the main number that you’re involved with in the show?
“Throughout the show I’m a gym boy in the Gym scene and I’m in the Berwick Street Market scene but my main number is in Madam JoJo’s in the second half. It’s a really famous cabaret club that’s been going for years with Burlesque Dancers and it got closed recently because of gentrification. Quite a lot of gay places are being closed as well for the sake of building high rise flats or something. So yeah in Madam JoJo’s I play a drag queen and I do an aerial silks number to Etta James ‘I wanna make to love to you’. The training has been quite intense with the heals on the equipment it’s very tiring and the outfit is very elaborate. I have feathers on the shoulders and big blonde wig, and I have to do my make up in twenty minutes which is quite scary.”
Where do you see this show going in the future?
“I think Stufish are hoping to take this on a world tour, which will be amazing. I’ve always been really passionate about the show, like when Stufish came to the school it was obviously right up my street with the whole drag act.”
Did they scout you or did you have to audition?
“They held auditions recently but when they came to the school, they worked with our year for the workshop, but with this version they had to do auditions. So I was in the original but with this version I had to audition. It’s a really important show, though, because a lot of places like Soho and Hackney Wick, where I live, there’s a lot of stuff being knocked down, lots of flats, lots of clubs and places where I used to perform, a really iconic gay club in Vauxhall that shut down. Someone recently said to me “Soho used to be a real hub for the gay community” but it almost feels like the gays are less visible, if you know what I mean, because places are being shut down…I feel like this show is really important and a really important celebration of Soho. I worked with someone who told me that Soho was a great community for the gays, but Soho is a great mismatch of gays, straights, lesbians and queers so the show is a celebration and warning of “try not to kill off the culture” or “don’t get too much into capitalism”. We need to protect and celebrate districts like Soho.”
What, roughly, is the story of the show?
“The story follows a “Lost Man”, he’s from abroad and come to London and he gets lost in Soho. The beginning it’s this really big, spectacular opening. The audience is presented with a train heading towards them and there’s a big commuting scene with people flying through the air and it’s pretty mad.”
Why do you think people should come and see Soho?
“I think people should come and see Soho because there aren’t that many shows out there that will blow you away ten times in the space of an hour. Every scene, there’s a spectacle. There’s an amazing trapeze couple from Montreal. There’s me, a drag queen on silks. You’ll see things that are really amazing. It’ll blow your mind. It’s a wow a minute show. It’s like a cabaret, as well. There are so many acts in the space of an hour so it’s totally worth the money. The projections are amazing, also. It’s a beautiful piece to watch.”
Any words of advice for aspiring performers?
“Never give up on your dream. It’s never too late. People will tell you it’s too late, it’s not! I was sat in my sister’s car, age 24, I actually cried because I just started doing acrobatics and I couldn’t do a cartwheel. I thought “If I can’t do a cartwheel now, it’s too late.” I can do a cartwheel now! I can climb the silks! I can do flips and dangerous stuff. With the right training, you can do anything. I know someone who started circus aged 28 and they’re still going aged 45. Never give up! It’s a long road but i’ve been doing it for five years now and a lot of it is not a lot of money or long hours but it’s all worth it when it pays off. It’s better to be happy and have less money, definitely.”