Preview: And Then the Rodeo Burned Down

Coming to the King’s Head for a month’s run from 17 Jan, and produced by theSpaceUK, And Then the Rodeo Burned Down comes to London after winning a Fringe First award in Edinburgh.

We caught up with the team behind the show (writer/performers from New York, Chloe Rice and Natasha Roland) to find out more about this “thrilling hour of clowning, physical theatre and comedy”.

Ticket link:

Publicity photo for And Then the Rodeo Burned Down

Congratulations on your success at the Edinburgh Fringe! What was it like performing there this year?

It was an absolute whirlwind. It was our first fringe so we didn’t really know what we were getting into.

At first, we were just so grateful to be there and to get to do the show every day, regardless of if anyone came to see it.

We were blown away by the reception we got, people started to stay after our show to talk to us, we would get stopped on the mile, people started to recognize us (it helps that we were dressed like clowns I guess) It was a community like nothing we’d ever seen.

The jetlag, being in costume for 9 hours a day, and sharing a room with 14 strangers in an underground hostel was all worth it anyway, but to get to see how people were so affected by our show was the reward we really did not expect.

And Then the Rodeo Burned Down is billed as ‘a queer cowboy Waiting for Godot’. Tell me more!

We are really excited people have been drawing similarities between our work and some of the great absurdist works out there, we certainly draw from Beckett in the way our show is, at the end of the day, just two aimless clowns.

That strange sense of hopelessness and misery in the context of an unknown situation with unknown stakes is something the Rodeo shares with Godot, we don’t tell you much, we just expect you to get on board.

Gender and romance also play a large part in this, the gender and relationships of the characters are kept similarly ambiguous.

Who better to explore masculinity, power, and the meaning of love than two genderless Rodeo Clown Cowboys. 

Physical theatre and clowning often get overlooked, so it is great to see your show getting attention. Do you find this easier or harder to perform than straightforward comedy?

Physical theatre has always come easiest to us, we both come from dance and movement backgrounds and while we have so much love for straightforward comedy, we think nothing emphasizes the comedy of the absurd quite like physicality.

We’re both huge fans of Buster Keaton, whose stunts are equally hilarious and a bit eerie, we’re constantly trying to hit that balance.

We’ve also been performing and moving together for almost ten years now, so it feels like we have kind of established a strong physical language with each other that makes it come even easier.

We won’t undersell how physically exhausting this show is on our bodies, though, a lot of stretching before and after each show.

Publicity photo for And Then the Rodeo Burned Down

You have music, too, by some legends of Country & Western. How important were the song choices to the development of the show?

The music choices were incredibly important to us, so much so that we knew we wanted to use Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, which kind of serves as a theme for the show, before we had even officially begun writing the script.

We had planned the plot and characters, and then 9 to 5 came on and we were certain it had to be in there somewhere.

All of the song choices were based not only on a specific nostalgia and love we have for them, but also on the way the story of our show made us hear these songs a little differently, maybe even more sinisterly.

It made the words we’d heard hundreds of times have different meaning, we hope it has a similar effect on our audience.

What’s your wish for theatre in 2023?

Aside from a clowning renaissance (we agree with you that physical theatre is often overlooked) we wish for more accessibility in theatre this coming year.

Our show talks a lot about money and financial barriers and that is a huge limitation for many theatre artists like ourselves.

Even great fringe theatre events like Edinburgh Fringe can be huge financial undertakings for independent artists and especially in the US it is nearly impossible to access funding for the arts.

More access to funding means more theatre can come out of underserved communities, and those are the stories we’re really excited to hear this year. 

And what’s next for these time travelling jesters?

We’ve caught the Edinburgh Fringe “bug” for sure and are already planning our trip back to Scotland in August.

While we’ve been so overwhelmed by the reception of our show here in the UK, we also really hope to bring the show to NYC, where we live, and share it with an American audience too.

Publicity photo for And Then the Rodeo Burned Down

Image credit: theSpaceUK/Chloe and Natasha