Troublemaker’s Festival Q & A: Charles Tolfree
According to Charles Tolfree, performer at Troublemaker’s Festival this July, everything you need will be in a small milk carton at TechHub Basement Cafe in the High Street. Want to know why? Find out in ‘Spilt Milk’ on Saturday at 13:00 pm. Charles Tolfree is a visual, performance and street artist taking part in the festival. He’s certainly a poet and has even been pushed into being a stand-up comedian, against his will, yet with great success. He enjoys making zines, short films, and music. Charles Tolfree is also supporting Mark Thomas alongside Ariane Sherine in “A show that gambles on the future” later that day at Volcano Theatre. Look out too for his Lost, Wanted, Found street art attached to things in the High Street throughout the festival.
Troublemaker’s Festival aims to change the world starting with Swansea’s High Street. It is a joint project between Volcano Arts and Coastal Housing. In the first of a series of interviews with players involved in Troublemakers Festival, I spoke to Charles Tolfree about his role in the festival.
A conversation with Charles Tolfree
PD: “What drew you to being involved in Troublemaker’s Festival in Swansea?”
CT: “I met Dan Thompson, the Programme Director of the festival through Twitter a couple of years ago. He’d seen my LOST posters around town and tweeted about how much he liked them. We stayed in contact and like to keep up to date on what each other is doing creatively. He told me about Troublemaker’s and invited me to come along and do some projects.
PD: “Can you tell us about your planned involvement in Mark Thomas’s “A Show that Gambles on the Future?” at Volcano Theatre (15th July)?
CT: Dan knew that I had done a bit of performance art and spoken word stuff at local open mic nights. At the time he was programming the festival I was working on ideas for a fifteen-minute one-man show about my experience of transitioning from female to male that involved performance art, stand-up comedy, and poetry. We penciled me in performing that. Since then I have decided to turn the performance art elements of the show into a short film instead because it’s very abstract and visual. So when Mark Thomas’s support acts were being organised I was offered the gig. I’ll be p[erforming a few poems, using props and shouting a bit.”
PD: “What roles do zines and other forms of agitprop communications have in moving society forward?”
CT: “The origin of zines is firmly rooted in punk and feminist movements, things have changed a bit in the past few years because everything is online these days. One opinion is that zines kind of died out a bit and are making a comeback, but I think what actually happened was, so much has gone digital, so people make Facebook events, not flyers and young people do blog posts and tweets instead of zines. But the zines hac=ve stuck around. You just have to find them! Thre’s so much online that blog posts get lost and yes, you can send someone a link but it;s going to get lost in all the other chat messages or bookmarked and forgotten. Younger people who have always grown up with the internet are getting excited about having something physical to share.”
PD: “Drink and drugs were often in the background in recent times of change, be it rave culture or ‘The Summer of Love’. With the use of drink and perhaps drugs on the wane what will be the future catalysts to help power people into progressive change?”
CT: “I think social media! A lot of those cultures were perhaps born from two main things – boredom which has been replaced by Netflix and endless timeline scrolling on Facebook and the other thing is… hopelessness? People felt let down by the governments and society but didn’t have a way to connect and communicate that in a way they could make a difference. So there seems to be a bit of a “well (expletive) it, things are crap, we can change it so let’s create this little world where we can escape. Now you can wake up and set up an online petition before even getting out of bed. By lunch time you are on your way to having signatures the Government has to look into it. Marches can be arranged in minutes using hashtags and people like Craftivists are teaching and sharing the art of gentle protest with simple Instagram posts.”
Eyes On The Road is a collaborative short film that I made with Helen Seymour, featuring a cameo performance by AbilityDrain. To find out more about Helen Seymour and join her unique mailing list go to www.whatthehelen.net AbilityDrain’s youtube channel is here https://www.youtube.com/user/AbilityDrain www.charlestolfree.com
Charles Tolfree in Eyes On The Road (with Helen Seymour and AbilityDrain)
PD: “In a riot, which would you do run with the crowd or have a face off?”
CT: “Haha, erm, I think I’d be the kid in the background putting a poster or small art installation up and then getting the hell out of there!”
PD: “How important is Identity to you personally?”
CT: “As a creative, sensitive (anti-lad culture) transman, it’s very important. I’ve spent years slowly moving through stages of personal development and acceptance and being proud of who I am and what I make and contribute to the world. Embracing that and getting on with it has been easy. Figuring out how to present that to the world is where all the stress has come from over the past couple of years. I’m just trying to quietly get on with it these days and not give it much thought.
PD: “Should we be crying over spilt milk?”
CT: “Hell no! We shouldn’t even rush to clean it up before we figured out how much mess has been made and most importantly trying to figure out how it got spilled anyway.”
PD: “What one thing would you do to change the world?”
CT: ” I think I’d just like everyone to calm down a bit. There’s too much stress, anger, and anxiety. Shall I leave you with some advice? That’s’ something I can do… this is something I try to live by… In situations where you have to take a leap of faith or make a big change, think of the best thing that can come out of that, then the worst thing that will come out of it – the thing that’s going to cause you stress, anger and anxiety and in the grand scheme of things, if that happens, then what’s the best thing that can come out of the worst thing? Chances are that isn’t going to be too bad. And at least you took the chance. And of course… if the original best thing happens? Well then ain’t that just beautiful?! Keeping positive is really important.
Must read: Dan Thompson, programmed the Troublemaker’s Festival. He also has big ideas: Troublemaker’s Festival Q & A: Dan Thompson
Troublemaker’s Festival – 13th -16th July #trouble2017
“Changing the world, starting with the High Street”
The festival reimagines the stretch of street between the station and Castle Square as a pedestrian-friendly place where arts and culture aren’t something special but are part of everyday life. It opens up buildings that people perhaps don’t normally see and uses spaces that perhaps people don’t normally notice. The Troublemakers Festival is for everyone who uses Swansea High Street and cares about it’s future. It’s for people who live on High Street, work on High Street, shop on the High Street, socialize on High Street, pass through High Street. It’s for young people and old people. It’s for Art lovers and show-goers and pizza fans and it’s for people who’ve never been to a gallery or theatre in their lives.
Come along as together a manifesto is created for the High Street. Lose at the Unfair Funfair, Levitate The Palace Theatre, have a Tea Party, join a march, recreate extraordinary speeches from history, watch films, make placards and eat pizza. Be inspired, entertained and provoked. A chance to be at the heart of the change taking place from the station down to the sea. Everyone is welcome!
Please note some events are bookable. Follow event links within programmes (see below for further detailed information) to book these events in advance.
Please also note: The road will be made pedestrian friendly and will be closed from The Grand Hotel down to Argos on Saturday and Sunday from 10.00 am – 5.00 pm.
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