Monday, 9 March 2015

Rove - Albany Theatre, Deptford

HAVE you ever been told or heard a story about your family and wondered if it was true or if it had been embellished over the years?
It is this conundrum that has provided poet and performer Fergus Evans with the inspiration for his latest show, Rove.
The piece, which is being staged at the Albany in Deptford from tonight until March 20, sees Fergus reflect on the truths and untruths of second hand stories and familial legends as he remembers a song passed through the generations of his own family history.
With live folk music performed by Rhiannon Armstrong, Fergus uses poetry to re-spin a yarn told many times over, unravelling and exploring old family stories and shows how they change over time.
It is he tells me, a show for anyone who has ever tried to untangle a family anecdote, or wished they knew more about where they came from.
“I think lots of people will relate to the themes of this show because stories are fundamental to our lives,” he says.
"Everyone loves them and every family has some to tell about their ancestors - some will be fascinating, some mundane and some embellished or altered over the years.
"We use stories to remember and create relationships with loved ones especially those who aren't there anymore. It's a way of remembering and learning about our own history and where we come from."
The idea for the show came from remembering a song from his childhood.
“When I was about 11 I was in the school choir and one day I was practising a song," he says.
"My mother told me she had sung it to me when I was a baby, and it was a song that had come from Ireland and been passed down through the generations.
“However when I was in my late 20s I found out it was not a traditional Irish song afterall but something from the 50s.
“So, did my mother just remember it incorrectly? She was born in 1954 so maybe she heard it on the TV when she was very young and associated it with an Irish folk band. Or maybe she just told me something to link back to my grandparents.
"I became fascinated by how stories change over time and how they are passed down by generations as fact."
Whatever the truth, it was this that got Fergus thinking about the other tales that had been told him over the years and as he explored the idea he realised he had the makings of a show.
"I come from a working class background in the United States and my mother's side were Irish Americans," he says.
"They were great storytellers so it's a bit of a family trait and I grew up listening to tales from my family's past.
“One story I love is that my great grandmother was courted by the Arch Duke Franz Ferdinand. However a few years ago my aunt told me it wasn't true!"
Sadly Fergus has no one to tell him either way as both his parents and grandparents have passed away.
"Although I'll never know now if they are true or not, what I can do is make those stories my own and enjoy them," he says.
"I probably won't have children - I’m a 35-year-old gay man - and this was also a real motivator for me to do the show - what happens to these stories when there is no one to pass them down to?
"I hope that those who come to see the show will take them on and tell them to someone else."
Fergus says the process has been a positive one though he admits it was difficult at times and says he's looking forward to bringing the show to the Albany where he has been associate artist for the last 18 months.
"It's been an emotional journey but has also been absolutely fascinating and I'm hugely excited about coming to Deptford," he says.
"To complement the show we are going to create listening posts for people to hear the stories and interviews I did with people about this which will be fun too.
"The Albany is also the perfect space for the show. It's an organisation that is interested in the community, identity and creating the space for real and meaningful conversations.
"I can't wait!"

Fergus Evans will be at the Albany in Douglas Way, Deptford from tonight until Friday, March 20. Tickets cost £12 (£10 concessions). Visit or call the box office on 020 8692 4446.

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