The Life Henri by Adam Bailey
August 17 – 20, 22, 24 – 26 at Venue #13: Old Strathcona Library
An interview with Adam Bailey.
Describe your show in one sentence.
Adventure follows after a fool wakes up and decides to be a celebrity simply by calling himself one.
Okay, now that we’re intrigued… what’s the longer description of your show?
The true story of Henri Rousseau, filled with unbelievable twists and turns including the invention of modern plumbing. Set in Paris’ banquette years we meet celebrities like Picasso, Monet and Gertrude Stein. But don’t think this is a stuffy recreation of a bygone era, think Christopher Moore, or Vonnegut, as I use Rousseau as a jumping off point for a wild story that uses plenty of contemporary references to keep us all connected. There are actually three stories, from three different centuries overlapping in The Life Henri.
How does The Life Henri appeal to both art-lovers and art novices?
Rousseau started out in life as a shit shoveler’s son. The children of shit shovelers are my real target audience. Anyone who’s ever fought an uphill battle to be recognized will appreciate this show. Art lovers enjoy learning the back story to several famous paintings and art novices simply enjoy the ride.
What is it about Henri Rousseau’s story that inspires you? Why (and how) have you blended it with Stephen King’s work?
Oh yes… the Stephen King connection… This is the beating, bloody heart of my show.
It came to me when I was in the early stages of the project and was explaining the Banquette Rousseau (a famous party Picasso held to mock the notorious, failed painter) to comedian Ken Hall. He kept asking me “What’s the hook” and I was suddenly comparing Rousseau’s story to one of Stephen King’s most famous works. That’s when I realized I had something. The parallels were shocking and turned Rousseau into a universal everyman.
Later in the research phase, I realized that there are parallels between Stephen King himself and Rousseau as they both struggled as artists to get out of working class poverty… so Stephen King becomes important to the story both for his art and for who he is as a person.
Anything else you want audiences to know about the show?
After debuting this show in Edmonton last year I’m so happy to be returning with the updated production. This has now won two awards, including Outstanding New Play at the Toronto Fringe, and I’m really excited to be back to where it all started. Edmonton is also the city where my last show Adam Bailey is on Fire took off and is increasingly the place where my work ends up finding its home.
The 36th Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival is August 17 – 27. Get your tickets at tickets.fringetheatre.ca starting August 9.