Making a Very Autobiographical Piece by George Mann

Part of the process of creating No Kids has been an examination of what it means to be a parent, and seriously trying to consider whether or not we can actually do it! Every theme we deal with seems to unlock a personal feeling, thought or story; and as we think of ourselves as parents many fears arise.

When I really began to consider whether or not I could be a parent – I was immediately drawn to all of my flaws, my anxieties, insecurities, even my natural tendency to be clumsy and accident prone became potentially lethal. A couple of years ago, Nir and I were at the cinema, I went to buy popcorn – we were both really hungry and popcorn had to suffice. But on the way back, as I moved through the row of seats, I tripped, and the giant carton of popcorn flew all over the floor – Nir was in one of his hangry moods and shouted ‘whyyyyyy!’ – as if I had decided to throw popcorn all over the place. It was really annoying – and Nir and I went hungry through that particular film. As an anecdote, it may seem funny, inconsequential even. But if I really start to think about that tendency of mine, in the context of being a parent, I imagine myself carrying a small baby, for example, of tripping and the baby flying out of my arms – I am filled with dread.

I think this is why I feel so exposed as we make No Kids. In reality, this is the story of us. It’s about our relationship, and it delves into the intimacy of a long-term partnership as it goes through a very challenging process.

At times I have felt very blocked, unable to improvise, not knowing how to ‘be myself’ or rather, perform myself on stage – in particular, perform myself telling some very private stories that in the past only those closest to me would have heard. When people have said ‘take a risk’ or ‘be brave’ within the context of theatre – it often meant allowing yourself to be vulnerable -but usually it’s within the frame work of playing or making fiction, and while you can relate to it or feel very close to it, it’s not actually you. But No Kids is not fiction (although it does play with fantasy and reality) – it’s me and Nir – we are the characters, and what we choose to include in the play, is often drawn from our own lives, memories and personalities. I have never felt so vulnerable.

But as dark as some of the material we’re creating is proving to be, there is also love, and hope there too – in each other, we are seeing our potential as fathers that could be and discovering not only a new play that we couldn’t have conceived without each other, but through a deeply personal and challenging process we glimpse the possibility of a new family.

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