INTERVIEW: Scott Turnbull | NARC. | Reliably Informed | Music and Creative Arts News for Newcastle and the North East

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Scott Turnbull, ARC’s associate artist and creator of Where Do All The Dead Pigeons Go, will return to the stage with a show entitled Tales From The SMOG, an hour-long production with an instantly intriguing pitch: Time is running out for Detective Charlie SMOG. As he falls from the Swallow Hotel in Stockton High Street he considers love, life and whether he left £4.50 out for the window cleaner.

It started as a bit of fun,” Scott recalls. “I wrote a few spooky short stories and made them into weird little horror comics. Before I knew it, I’d created a bunch of oddball characters and mixed up narratives that were funny and slightly unnerving. I thought it would be cool if the stories were set against a supernatural backdrop. So, I created an alternate-reality Teesside where anything can happen.”

Reminiscent of the humour and style of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, the concept will definitely appeal to lovers of retro, sci-fi and quirky comedy. “I wanted The Smog to feel like a mad old B-movie with elements of Tarantino and David Lynch,” explains Scott. “I watched Twin Peaks again alongside A League of Gentlemen. This helped me create an absurd plot-line with a nice spattering of dark comedy. My favourite novelist is Kurt Vonnegut, so I popped an alien invasion in there and I love Bladerunner, so I set it in Teesside in 2049.”

I’m constantly trying to create work that’s funny and absurd and hopefully a refreshing alternative to mainstream entertainment

Scott believes that people go to the theatre to forget about real life. “I wanted to create an alternate reality where aliens and werewolves exist, another dimension where time travel is possible and our possibilities are endless. And even though all these concepts are fanciful, they’re always told from a truthful, human perspective with real consequences for the characters. Teesside 2049 is a distorted reflection of Teesside 2020.”

The show features the use of an overhead projector, through a mixture of pre-drawn and live drawings. “I started using the OHP as a storytelling device when I split up with my ex. She got the dog and I got the projector. It’s always been a useful and unique way of communicating my emotions. I often resent how heavy it is especially when I’m carrying it up Northumberland Street, but I love the nostalgic, tactile feel of it. More than anything, I love the fact that you can make an audience fall in love with a drawing.”

Scott spent so much time creating the characters that it has allowed him to expand into other formats. “Now I’ve got a handle on what that world is and how it works I can start creating material for other platforms.”  In fact, this month sees the release of the wonderfully named Radio Galac-Tees podcast which will feature interviews with Paul Smith from Maximo Park and Ross Millard from The Futureheads. Scott will also be releasing a short comedy sketch detailing The Fictional History of Parmos with Channel 4 and The North East Comedy HotHouse. “I’m constantly trying to create work that’s funny and absurd and hopefully a refreshing alternative to mainstream entertainment. I want Tales from the SMOG to be a good night out.”  

Keep an eye on Scott’s website for further information on when Tales from the SMOG will be performed

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