I had an idea: What if I took 20 questions, and gave them to directors, artists, playwrights, poets, actors, novelists, burlesque performers, short story writers, devisers, stand-up and sit-down comedians and anyone else who seemed interesting in between, and asked them to respond to as many or as few questions as they liked, as briefly or meandering as they chose about art, culture, and the creative process… might that be an interesting series?
My second interviewee is Mat Fraser – a writer, actor, emcee, presenter, and burlesque performer amongst many other things.
During his career, Mat has been a drummer and rapper, a TV presenter and a voiceover artist. He’s also got a black belt in Tae Kwon Do. He’s now best known as an actor on stage, film and television, including Cast Offs, Metrosexuality and Every Time You Look at Me.
Fraser played the drums in a performance of Ian Dury’s ‘Spasticus Autisticus’ at the 2012 Paralynpics opening ceremony. He also performed during the Cultural Olympiad in In Water I’m Weightless, my Unlimited Commission with National Theatre Wales and the Southbank Centre. He rounded off the 2012 sporting extravaganza, playing drums for Coldplay during the closing ceremony. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Oz8QVUgJ4bM
20 QUESTIONS… MAT FRASER…
What first drew you to writing/directing/acting?
My parent both being actors, and my English teacher’s very favourable reaction to my 1st ever 5 minute play when I was 13
What was your big breakthrough?
I believe it is yet to happen
What is the most challenging aspect of your work/process?
The cultural apartheid that blights most mainstream arts administrator’s attitudes to disability
Is there a piece of art, or a book, or a play, which changed you?
Books: Geek Love, Jonathan Livingston Seagull, And The Truth Shall Set You Free
What’s more important: form or content?
How do you know when a project is finished?
I don’t know!
Do you read your reviews?
What advice would you give a young writer/practitioner?
always have a harsh critic to read your work that you trust, who will be knowledgeable and brutally honest
What work of art would you most like to own?
a sculpture in Perth Australia in a big business building foyer of a limbless women sitting on the lap of a man
What’s the biggest myth about writing/the creative process?
That its a fair playing field, and if you’re good enough your work will shine through…the cliche of “its not what but who you know” prevails and people giving their mates the work is what often happens, plus the hidden enforcement of the cultural and political status quo, combine to make that myth ridiculous.
What are you working on now?
A zombie movie set in the Freak show in Coney Island, a 5 hander comedy play with one disabled character set in a not very good Elvis convention in Bognor Regis, and then a complete dialogue re-write on a friend’s film script where the story is wonderful but the dialogue awful
What is the piece of art/novel/collection/ you wish you’d created?
the play Bent, the book Perfume
What do you wish you’d known when you were starting out?
That my impairment will always prevent me from a leading role in a large commercial mainstream film, like Hollywood etc.
What’s your greatest ambition?
a leading or character role in a large commercial mainstream film, like Hollywood etc.
How do you tackle lack of confidence, doubt, or insecurity?
arrogance, misguided anger and false assurance. All mistakes of course, but you asked
What is the worst thing anyone said/wrote about your work?
Its also my fave : “Usually I believe in seeing the personality and not the disability but in Mat Fraser’s case its hard because his biggest disability appears to be his personality”
And the best thing?
If you were to create a conceit or metaphor about the creative process, what would it be?
What is your philosophy or life motto?
No Retreat No Surrender. Be kind.
What is the single most important thing you’ve learned about the creative life?
that you must create your art because it burns in you to do it, you HAVE to make it, for yourself. If you try to 2nd guess an audience or make art with a preconceived idea of its commercial success, thus altering the art, you will lose your soul
The following taken from Mat’s website:
Unarmed and Dangerous. Information from: http://www.matfraser.co.uk/
‘This is perhaps the Worlds first “cripsploitation” film, starring Mat in the lead role as Jimmy Loveit, with Frank Harper (Football Factory, Name of the Father, Lock Stock), Faye Tozer (from the pop band Steps), and a bevy of bruisers and beauties. Its a story of innocent Jimmy caught up in the horror of bent coppers, child sex worker traffickers, abduction, the threat to his family, and his brutal and bloody retribution.
Not for the faint hearted, this ultra violent Xavier Leret film was produced by the legendary Terry Stone ( Rise of the Foot Soldier, Rolling with the Nines and more) of Hanover Films, and features a who’s who of, ahem, interesting characters, as well as two other disabled actors, and Mat’s Mum, Paddy Glynn.
Celebrated by some, protested against by others and almost banned on Facebook, this sick and unpleasant cult classic is available at all good DVD stores through Anchor Bay Distribution, as well as http://www.filmlounge.com. Apparently if we sell over 10,000 we get to do the sequel. Buy it now, there are a LOT more baddies to kick.’