Jo Fong and George Orange’s The Rest of Our Lives is an evening of dance, circus and games, which comes to The Place on 23 April. Ahead of the show's arrival, we spoke with Jo Fong about The Rest of Our Lives and what audiences can expect…
Q: Could you tell us about The Rest of Our Lives?
Jo: Sometimes I wonder just how far back you need to go when a new idea is seeded. Since 2016, I’ve been obsessed with thinking about the very basic human need, belonging. Togetherness is very important for me; no matter where we are in our lives, we need people around us for support and to have fun.
The Rest of Our Lives is a Rural Touring Dance Initiative commission. RTDI supports work that will have a life in village halls. I live in Wales and I feel the performances I make here couldn’t be made anywhere else. It’s a small nation and I would describe living here, as living in community. I like to think of my work as forming community, friendships, shared experiences, stuff that builds a sense of possibility. I think The Rest of Our Lives definitely has a feeling of everyone being part of something.
Q: What can the audience expect when they see The Rest of Our Lives?
Jo: The show is a series of sketches. A bit of stand up, some gyrating, some VERY good music. It’s inspiring, sensory, playful and a bit stupid. It looks light, throwaway, yet it’s deadly serious, it’s about all the things that we need to simply stay alive and in the show me and George have a go at doing them all.
Q: What aspects of life does the performance touch upon?
Jo: As we come out of the pandemic, the show touches on how we can create the things we need to lift our spirits, get some momentum going and to have fun. How can we generate our own energy? Me and George are now both over 50, believe me, it’s definitely a thing! There’s been a lot of loss and the piece was initiated through loss and grief. In the show George and I do a duet which is about supporting one another. Somehow I feel it highlights how in older age, how we care for loved ones. There are really connected moments in The Rest of Our Lives.
Q: How do you bring people along with you during the performance?
Jo: When we’ve performed in village halls, we get to know people, talk to them and spend time with them. George and I are highly practised in being with audiences and there’s a sort of vulnerability when you work with each other in this way. You build trust with audience members in this moment and then the journey together begins.
After the performances, people have written to me about how it went for them. I’ve been really touched by how people share a little of their lives with us and how they connected with the performance.
There is definitely something to be said about art spaces being places where people can visit to feel connected. These spaces enable shared experiences, we’re face to face. There is warmth and, after the time we’ve had, faces with bodies! Everything is switched on because we are together and in witness to something.
Q: What interests you artistically?
Jo: I’m interested in having a good time; in working in a way that’s completely unburdened. I like placing myself near to things, and people, where I can learn. The essence of my work is that there is always more than what you see here [ Jo gestures to herself ], I love the layers behind people and in The Rest of Our Lives, there is a lot of love and a lot of layers.