In the final week of The Blue Room’s Summer Nights season, we’re set to see something very curious indeed: a show about a man who lives inside another man’s beard. The man is writer/producer/performer Shane Adamczak, the beard is that of beard owner St John Cowcher, and together, they perform The Ballad of Frank Allen.
Adamczak, the guy behind Weeping Spoon Productions, who have brought us some great little indie numbers like TRAMPOLINE, This is Not a Love Song, and Vicious Circles, came up with this crazy idea a couple of years ago while living in Montreal. “The character who has the beard is named Al Lafrance. Al Lafrance is an actual friend of mine from when I lived in Montreal. We had a farewell for him on the podcast that we did on his last day, and I wrote a song for him called, ‘The Ballad of Frank Allen’ about a little man who lives in his beard, who through various circumstances is behind all the big decisions in Al’s life.”
From there it turned into an ongoing weekly serial that Adamczak wrote for a Montreal-based website called bloodyunderrated.net, which he then later used to piece together to make a play. He added a few characters here and there, chopping and changing based on what he felt would work on stage.
Without giving away too many spoilers, Adamczak says, “I play a janitor called Frank Allen who accidentally, while cleaning in a science lab, gets shrunk, a la Honey I Shrunk the Kids. But instead of ending up in a backyard, he ends up living in another man’s beard. He’s there for a year and a half, and the show is basically about what happens to the two men over the course of that time.”
Since we have yet to develop this kind of shrinking technology in real life (and even if we did, I imagine it would hardly fall under an indie/Blue Room budget), Adamczak has come up with a kind of “split-screen” solution using lighting and sound to differentiate between the beard’s interior and the outside world. “We want to use minimal set and props, and create the world using with our physical presence.”
His co-performer St John has been creating and performing his own show, The Man and the Moon, which closed its Summer Nights sell-out run only on Feb 6th, which has left him with hardly any time to breathe. But for Adamczak’s part, he has great faith in his co-star and their ability to pull everything together in the intervening week and a bit. “Knowing that we had enough time once his show was up, I wasn’t too worried about it,” he says with casual confidence.
It’s the kind of confidence that comes from both of them having created successful, well-received shows and performances in the last couple of years. Adamczak is riding a wave of steady work that’s keeping him here in Perth for the moment. “I call Montreal my home, I call Perth my home. I’m happy to be wherever the work is going, and I’m really lucky this year that I’ve got quite a lot of stuff lined up.”
Perth is really lucky to be able to foster independent artists like Adamczak and Cowcher, to give them opportunities to create works like The Ballad of Frank Allen and The Man and the Moon. “It’s really exciting to see people going out and trying new things, and not just relying on things that they know are going to be great. There’s lots of people who seem to be taking chances,” he says.
Audiences can take a chance on Adamczak’s The Ballad of Frank Allen, which runs from 16 – 20 February 7.30pm.