Interview: Katy Baird on the London Premier of Her Latest Work, Get Off

Interview: Katy Baird on the London Premier of Her Latest Work, Get Off

The hot mess (her words) that is Katy Baird arrives at the Battersea Arts Centre in May with new show Get Off – so we grilled her on her inspirations, collaboration with Kim Noble, diverse bodies, and pleasurable Things To Do in London!

Get Off | Battersea Arts Centre | 8-25 May | Pay What You Can

Hi Katy, thanks for chatting with us! Tell us a bit about Get Off – what’s it all about?

Get Off is about trying to survive the monotony of everyday existence and finding our way in a polarised world. So, just something small and easy to make a show about, hahaha. Like everyone, sometimes I am lonely and feel totally lost, but I also have so many moments where I feel connected and alive, and these seem so important to focus on right now.

Get Off explores the moments in life that we rarely think about because so many of us are busy saying how amazing everything is online. It is definitely not a sad show though; it’s funny and ridiculous and totally excessive in all ways – a bit like me!

It is also unapologetically queer and feminist. It’s a punch in the gut and a hug at the same time; it’s a fat line of Ket and a spinach smoothie; it’s a trembling wall of sound and a bedtime story. It celebrates the underground and the mainstream – it’s totally contradictory and real, and it will make you feel alive! 

It’s actually quite hard to explain in words so I think you just need to come and experience it to know what I am banging on about.

Can you give us a glimpse into how you collaborated with co-director Kim Noble? 

Working with the legend that is Kim Noble has been a revelation; his knowledge of the craft of performance is incredibly inspiring. When we first met, I told him I wanted to push myself, to go to the next level with my work, and he totally got it. He truly believed that I could do it, and because of this, I think we have created something pretty special together. 

He is also very patient, which is crucial when directing this kind of work because when it is your life on display, warts and all, it can all feel a bit overwhelming sometimes. Kim understands this more than anyone. There have definitely been moments where I can start to really doubt myself and what I am doing, but thankfully, he knows how to shake that out of me and to always trust in the process. Kim is also fucking hilarious, which helps a lot.

It’s important to say that even though I am a solo artist, this is not a solo work. I have had the privilege to work with not just Kim but an amazing creative team, and it is our collaboration that has made this show so damn good. The cultural sector in the UK is currently operating under a hostile environment with the likelihood of huge cuts on the way and I may not get funding again to work in this way with this many people at this level, so I am trying to enjoy it as much as possible.

Who or what inspires your creative work?

Life in all its messiness inspires me – my friends, my communities, my family. Wanting to see lives like mine unapologetically represented on stage drives my work and of course there are soooo many artists that have inspired me. I believe it is crucial to see as much work as possible for inspiration. Sometimes when I am watching a performance that I am slightly bored in, I will have amazing ideas for my work so it’s always worth it! The sad thing is that as it has become more expensive to see stuff, audiences have become a bit more selective, which means taking fewer risks on seeing something that may surprise you (and venues taking less risks on programming experimental work). So everyone please take a risk and go see as much performance stuff as you can! 

You’ve talked about enjoying ‘using your body’ in your work – how important is it that theatre and performance provides a platform for a diverse range of bodies as well as voices?

Oh, it’s so important. As a fat older woman, I love being naked on stage as an antidote to all those ‘perfect’ bodies we see so much of in performance and dance – its so boring. Fleshy curves, bumps, wobbles, and flappy bellies are always so much more interesting to watch. I think things have slowly been changing, though. Fifteen years ago, when I was doing a lot of club performances, lots of women would say to me afterwards, ‘you’re so brave,’ which I always felt was so sad because it shouldn’t be seen as brave to be naked and fat on stage. However, I get this much less now, and I think that’s because there has been a huge shift, and the fat liberation movement is much more loud and proud – which I am really happy to be a part of. Also, like everything, we should try to use it to our advantage – I have said to programmers before, ‘you have no-one fat in your programme so put me in it,’ and they have. If we don’t see it happening then we have to make it happen.

What are your favourite London pleasure-spots?

As a long-time artist-in-residence at the queer club night Knickerbocker in Hackney Wick, I gotta say there but it really is always a very good night. I also try to get to Duckie’s monthly Saturday nights to see a show and have a good old dance to the Readers Wife DJs (I would also recommend the Korean restaurant Daebak opposite Duckie for dinner beforehand – their KFC is amazing!). 

Ugly Duck often has good events on and is one of the few places supporting Performance Art in London. My favourite local pub is the Myddleton Arms in Canonbury – it’s a super friendly and cute little pub that always has a great playlist on the go. Food-wise, if I need quick fast food then Bun House in Chinatown is my go-to. If I want something fancy, I love Fatt Pundit in Soho.

I travel a lot for work so if I need something quick and good in Kings Cross, I would go to Kimchee Korean Restaurant and if I’m feeling flush, the Thai restaurant Supawan is lovely; it’s inside flower shop Aflorum, so it smells amazing. If I’m in Euston, then a cheap and cheerful lunch is at Seed Cafe in the Quaker Centre or if it is evening time I might do a fancy dinner at Norfolk Arms, which does English tapas – always delicious!

Stop drooling over those food pictures! And don’t miss Get Off at BAC, 8-25 May – book tickets now.

All Katy Baird/Production Pictures: JMA Photography