In 1917, the artist Marcel Duchamp caused a sensation, when he exhibited an ordinary urinal at an art gallery in New York. Duchamp, claimed that since he was an artist, he had the right to decide what was “ART” and thus, conceptual art was born………..
Almost a hundred years later, one man walked into an airplane toilet and decided that, while that toilet was certainly a toilet, it could also become, for a brief period of time, a theatre……and thus, the work of the Airline Toilets Theatre Company (ATTC) began.
Let me explain……
I work as a professional musician with a band called the Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, and we play all over the world. Travelling on planes is pretty boring and uncomfortable, especially when you’re as tall as I am (6’8”/2.05m) and so you need to keep yourself occupied.
In 2015, while touring the US, I decided to remake Bob Dylan’s famous Subterranean Homesick Blues entirely in airline toilets (its the one where he peels off the signs). It took 14 flights to get enough footage for the film and making it was fun, but even when it was finished, there was more work to do in this particular ‘area’.
The film at the top you've just watched is the latest in a series of films I started making on aeroplanes in 2016, and put up online over that Christmas, as a charity fundraising exercise; and guess what, people liked it and I hit my target! So I ‘retired’ for a while, but the temptation was too strong not to go back into those toilets and keep on filming!
I’m now in my fourth year of film making and those ideas just keep popping into my head…..
It’s a cramped space to work in. As far as film making goes, it’s pretty basic, an iPhone stuck to the mirror, no lighting, no retakes, no make up and certainly no star tantrums. But I enjoy the challenge of making my own entertainment, especially while others are supinely staring at their cigarette pack sized tv screens. It isn’t easy and involves a lot of planning: - there are few environments in the world more tightly controlled and regulated than that of a commercial aircraft.
So there you have it.
Part performance art prank, part mid life crisis, part comment on the madness of modern day touring. Thank you for watching these films and if you want to support the work, I've got a page at Patreon, so you can get early access to scripts and footage.
CLICK HERE to view the complete Airline Toilets Theatre Company Playlist