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Contents Page 3: Charlie Legg: Biography

Page 4: Happy Hut productions presents ‘Arietta Chest’

Page 7: Legg and Best

Page 8: The Headmistresses

Page 12: Bent Reality presents ‘In the Vents’

Page 16: Impulsive Hoarders presents ‘Call Me at Twilight’

Page 18: The Big Lips 2014

Page 21: Kin of Mine

Page 25: GIANT BALANCE presents ‘Do You Know Your Onions?’

Page 28: Additional credits

Page 29: Bibliography

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Charlie Legg: Biography My name is Charlie Legg. I am a Theatre Maker, Storyteller, Writer, Deviser and Performer based in Cornwall. I was born in Slough, Berkshire, in 1992 and moved to Hastings, East Sussex, when I was eight, where I lived for the next eleven years. At age nineteen I moved to Falmouth, Cornwall, to study for a Bachelor in Arts degree in Theatre at Falmouth University. My interests as a maker lie within the realms of cabaret, storytelling, multimedia performance, autobiographical work and the relationship between people and place. People inform my practice, whether they are fictional or real, I am interested in exploring the complex and sometimes complicated relationship between being a member of the human race and being a person. My origins in theatre first took the form of script writing for the stage, concentrating on social realism; inspired by my favourite director, Mike Leigh. I eventually began performing in a mainstream context; spending much of my time performing in musical theatre and plays. Since then my craft has stretched somewhat to a more contemporary style, preferring to collaborate with others in an attempt to make relatable, entertaining performance pieces which are for one audience, at one time, in one place. I have collaborated and devised with various theatre-makers in a range of genres and have also explored working solo. In this book I will tell you about my more recent projects, taking place over a three year period.

Why do we make? Because we must. Why must we make? Because we do.

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Happy Hut productions presents ‘Arietta Chest’ Piece: Arietta Chest Collaborators: Harry Best, Charlie Legg, Emma Watson-Thomas, Rosie Wilson. Genre: Site Specific Art/Performance, Installation, Socio-Politics of Place.

Arietta Chest is a Site-Specific installation that was first presented in May 2012. Arietta was the end result of collaboration between four theatre makers under the guidance of Veronica Vickery. Arietta Chest acted as a reflection of its surroundings, Tremough House Gardens. Rosie, Emma, Harry and I spent many hours studying the site, even sitting in the same space for twelve hours of automatic writing. This ensured that we would truly understand the site and justify using it to make work. We made friends with our site and saw it as a living, breathing entity. Throughout Arietta we were exploring a sense of ownership and whether one can truly own a site. For our performances we presented an installation; a single glass cabinet containing objects and plants which we had found around the site. It sat in the middle of a circular bench, designed for four people to sit on. Each person received a pair of ear phones which came from within the cabinet and enabled them to listen to a soundtrack. The soundtrack came from various sources; from the people whom we had met from around the site, from the experiences that we had had and some that we had created ourselves. It represented the people we had met, the stories they had to tell and the complicated and fragile relationship between humans and the rest of the nature that was contained within the gardens. Arietta Chest was designed for an audience of four people. We felt that having too many people within the space would distract from the obvious beauty which surrounded it and as temporary inhabitants we did not wish to damage the space in any way. 4


Arietta Chest. Photo by Charlie Legg.

The Happy Hut. Photo by Charlie Legg. 5


Inside Arietta Chest: Photo by Charlie Legg.

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Legg and Best Collaborators: Charlie Legg and Harry Best. Genres: Cabaret, Sketch Comedy, Character-Based Comedy, Multimedia Performance, Drag. Influences: Divine, Bourgeois and Maurice.

Legg and Best is the stage name of the double-act that I am one half of with Harry Best. We first formed in September 2012. Legg and Best have performed within Cornwall at cabaret nights and other performance functions. We experiment with multimedia performance, uploading our work onto YouTube in an attempt to explore performer-audience relations via the internet. Does a performance that receives laughs live, receive laughs when performed on YouTube? Does a performance that receives laughs on YouTube, receive laughs when performed live? These are the questions we ask ourselves. Through improvisation sessions we create characters which can then be transferred into either live or recorded performance. We enjoy the extremes of being human. What is acceptable within a performance context that is not acceptable within an everyday context? We find that the answer is ‘many things’. It was through this realisation that our characters began to emerge. Our characters are not only extreme, but they can be scary. We enjoy exploring the grotesque and the gruesome, often inventing characters with very little morals and a lot of conviction. This makes for ridiculous situations which we as performers can revel in.

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The Headmistresses The Headmistresses are Legg and Best’s most well known creation and we believe that they have become an act in their own right. In other words, Harry and I no longer can contain The Headmistresses and we see them as people in their own right. The characters no longer serve us; we serve them. Miss Violet is the Headmistress of Whippet Hall; a private school for girls. She is based on many of the strong women one might see in British Soap Operas such as Coronation Street’s iconic Ena Sharples or Eastenders Peggy Mitchell. She is assisted by Miss Wysteria, the Deputy Headmistress of Whippet Hall. Miss Wysteria is a much more emotionally vulnerable character than her companion; yet possesses the strength of ten men. The Headmistresses’ primary function is to confuse. They are a law unto themselves and they are the result of an unexposed, sheltered lifestyle of their own creation. Nobody is certain of the Headmistresses’ relationship. They could be sisters. They could indeed be lovers. They could even be both. However, one thing is certain; they are not friends. Boasting a complex power struggle, their lives revolve around their love and hate of each other; often relying upon the other members of the teaching staff to handle the proceedings of Whippet Hall whilst they try to get their heads around the everyday. This allows them to play and justifies their fun (and therefore, ours). Through the Headmistresses we aim to explore themes of horror-comedy and what I would personally describe as ‘Modern Dickens’. By this, I mean taking characters that belong in a time long ago that share the grotesque imagery that many of Dickens’ creations did such as Miss Havisham and Fagin and blend that with a modern way of living. How would we survive if we were transported two hundred years in time? It would probably be very similar to how the Headmistresses survive today.

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‘What can we get away with if we wear a dress?’ is the question first asked when watching my personal hero, Barry Humphries as Dame Edna Everage. It seems that the answer is ‘a lot more than a man and a lot more than a woman’. That is not to say that this statement is true, rather an idea which we felt must be explored.

Legg and Best and the Headmistress. Photos by Jono Whitehead Photography.

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Bourgeois and Maurice st

Bourgeois and Maurice are a duo that performs 21 Century Cabaret. Their work interests me because not only are they cabaret artists, but they play with gender. Harry and I enjoy dressing as women but we are not drag queens. We toe the line between masculine and feminine. The Headmistresses are two masculine women. I am larger than Harry, being six foot one in height and broad in stature. Harry is slighter than I am but has a beard hairier arms and legs. We play with the fact that we are men in dresses, rather than denying it. Bourgeois and Maurice play with gender, revelling in the grey area of masculinity and femininity, Bourgeois especially dressing in what would be considered ‘female’ clothing, whilst maintaining the fact that he is a man, making no attempt at hiding his, obviously male, frame.

Divine Glenn Harris Milstead was the drag queen to end all drag queens; an unconventional star who, whilst not at all feminine as a man, achieved a great femininity whilst in drag. Divine was overweight and completely made the most of what he had, often being described as sexy and terrifying at the same time. We want the Headmistresses to be frightening but with a fun edge, making them unpredictable and hard to place for an audience. Divine was this. They knew that he was a man in drag. However, they did not know what he would do next. Divine was thrilling and broke all taboos that were presented before him. Divine’s performance as Babs Johnson in John Waters’ cult film, Pink Flamingos, is one of the most iconic drag performances of all time and the reason I adore it so is because Divine is believable as a woman. The audience knows that Babs is being played by a man, and yet, they are willing to play his game and believe that he is a woman. This is a desirable effect for any drag performer, whether you wish to achieve it or not. Harry and I want our audience to be aware that we are men in women’s clothing but to believe in the characters of The Headmistresses as much as we believe in them ourselves.

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The Headmistresses: Photo by Jono Whitehead Photography.

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Bent Reality presents ‘In the Vents’ Company: Bent Reality. Piece: In the Vents. Collaborators: Harry Best, Jessica Dorey, Jack Ewer, Charlie Legg, Bryndis Ingvasdottir, Faye Prior, Jono Whitehead (Dramaturg). Genres: Cabaret and Storytelling. In the Vents is a storytelling piece which was first performed in December 2012, a result of a collaboration of seven theatre makers. In the Vents blended themes of Cabaret and Storytelling to tell the stories of a group of six individuals who had come together to form a community of performers. The piece was originally inspired by the work of Tiger Lillies and their piece Shockheaded Peter. It was at this point that the rest of my group introduced me to the work of Kneehigh theatre which has gone on to influence my work since. The devising process took the form of improvisation workshops. To begin with, each member of the company led a workshop which catered to their individual interests and intentions for the piece. This allowed us all the opportunity to take the lead and inform the rest of the company to where we’d like to see the piece go. It was a very fair process and some wonderful themes and ideas came from it. After the seven workshops we chose to develop elements from each which we thought were particularly successful or had potential. Our characters developed at different stages. Each member of the company gradually and organically found their voice within the fictional community we were creating and a hierarchy was developed, certain characters having more charge than others. The result of this organic process was a community which loved and cared for each other and wished to indulge each other’s need to tell their story.

‘‘The thing about having so many layers, is that I get very smelly...’’ The Boy with Too Many Layers/the Shirt Maker: 2012. 12


Characters: Husband: Harry Best The Girl with Snow beneath Her Clothes: Jessica Dorey The Boy with the Fire in His Feet: Jack Ewer The Boy with Too Many Layers/the Shirt Maker: Charlie Legg The Woman in Skirts: Bryndis Ingvarsdottir Sleepy Faye: Faye Prior

In the Vents: Photo by Stephanie Ayres.

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Kneehigh Kneehigh Theatre is a theatre company based in Cornwall who specialise in the sharing of stories. Bent Reality found them to be particularly inspiring whilst devising In the Vents as they have a rich history when it comes to storytelling. I admire the fact that they can combine grotesque surrealism and a childlike innocence whilst telling their stories. We wanted to achieve a taste of this in our own work and for our piece to be as easily accessible to children as it is to adults, without designing a piece of children’s theatre. I feel that we achieved this.

Tiger Lillies Tiger Lillies are a musical trio which perform Brechtian Punk Cabaret, blending punk with the sounds of pre-war Berlin. With elements of music-hall and vaudeville, Tiger Lillies are a modern call to the past and they have a magical air to them. They are high drama; their music has a notable sound to it and tells a sinister tale and they are theatrical in their presentation as much as they are musical. This surreal and strange way of presenting their work was what brought the original few collaborators together in Bent Reality, it was our starting post; a shared passion for this oddness. We strove to achieve a similar feeling and though we strayed towards more innocent themes, we managed to achieve a sense of oddness and an unashamed, theatrical weirdness that an audience found ultimately endearing when applied to telling a characters’ story. I would like to revisit In the Vents and insert more music, allowing it more atmosphere and allowing stories to flow into each other in a less structured way.

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In the Vents. Photo by Jono Whitehead Photography.

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Impulsive Hoarders presents ‘Call Me at Twilight’ Collaborators: Harry Best, Charlie Legg, Rosie Reeve. Genres: Storytelling, Cabaret, Character-based humour.

In 2013, Legg and Best joined forces with theatre maker Rosie Reeve to devise Call Me at Twilight; a storytelling piece that was originally commissioned by the Falmouth River Festival and first performed in 2013. It was originally designed around the theme of water and current affairs. We were aware that the Olympic Games had recently taken place and were still being talked about. Through improvisation workshops we asked ourselves ‘what could happen before the Olympic games?’ We allowed our imaginations to run wild and we soon had invented three characters; ‘The Triplets Shtool’. Shtephen, Shtella and Shtan were born in the fictional country of Shtool; a poor country with a booming turkey breeding industry and little else. We wished to create a story of hope and ambition. The Triplets Shtool wished to qualify for the Olympic Synchronised Swimming event and to embark on a life of fame and fortune. Unfortunately, the odds were against them as the water had disappeared from their training pool. They were forced to audition for the Olympics with only a cup of water each and fifteen feet of blue fabric.

‘‘Unfortunately for us, our pool was drained. How you ask? Why, a passing stranger released a magical Sea Horse into our pool. We awoke the next day to find nothing but the Sea Horse at the bottom of the pool... dead. There is something ironic about drowning in a waterless pool...’’ Shtan Shtool: 2013

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Call Me at Twilight is an easily adaptable piece, requiring very little in the way of set and scenery. It can be performed both inside and out; its only props being the fifteen feet of blue fabric, a coffee table on wheels, three plastic cups, two bamboo sticks, a map of Shtool and a bird mask. If one was to look past the comedy of the piece, it is about a family in difficult circumstances. They come together in the name of competitive spirit and a need to succeed and we hope that The Triplets Shtool can induce both laughter and admiration. They are seldom seen exuding moral fibre but are often seen showing a ‘mean affection’ towards each other; a reflection of how we, Impulsive Hoarders, feel about our brothers and sisters. This is a family friendly show which aims to please and amuse whilst making one appreciate what they have.

Call Me at Twilight: Photo by Kathy Rowlett.

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Publicity photo (below) by Jono Whitehead Photography

The Big Lips 2014 In March 2014, Impulsive Hoarders entered The Big Lips, a local lip-synching competition. We prepared an act named Peggy Legg and her Feline Companions and we lip-synched to Pat Benatar’s We Belong. We wanted the story of Peggy Legg to be simple, but effective. A grand old woman with nobody but her cat’s for company; we wanted it to be so sad that it is funny. We adapted the blue fabric used in Call Me at Twilight into a dress, which we would then use to tell the story of Peggy. The judges chose us to go in their top three and it was down to the audience to vote for their winner and thankfully, we won. We have since performed the piece at other events.

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Peggy Legg and Her Feline Companions. Photo by Jono Whitehead Photography.

Impulsive Hoarders: Continued Since Call Me at Twilight, Impulsive Hoarders have gone on to perform at various cabaret nights in Cornwall such as The Sketch House, Stormy Nights and numerous performances at The Performance Centre on Tremough Campus. We have continued to make small scale, easily adaptable work that revolves around absurd, over the top characters. We consider theatre a space where one can meet exciting, ridiculous characters that you would not want to meet in an everyday context but would like to laugh at in a performer-audience setting. Most of our pieces boasts a high amount of iconic but possibly cringe –inducing pop classics such as We Belong by Pat Benatar, Dancing Queen by ABBA and Making Your Mind Up by Bucks Fizz. We consider these to be people pleasers which set a tone for the light-hearted humour we wish to share with our audience.

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Kin of Mine Collaborators: Ernest Cole, Laurena Evans, Jacqueline Legg, Charlie Legg. Genres: Solo Performance, Storytelling, Autobiographical Performance, Family Collaboration. Kin of Mine was a project carried out from September 2013 through January 2014. The project explored two main areas: The practice of storytelling. The context of my families place within the British mining industry. Kin of Mine was a family collaboration. It brought together four members of my family; my mother Jackie, my grandmother Laurie and my great uncle Ernie, to research and discuss the life of one key family member; my Great-Grandfather, Lawrence Cook. After researching Lawrence’s life I realised that I was particularly fascinated by his early career in the Somerset coal mines. Recording interviews with family members about Lawrence and their memories of him, I began to piece together a portrait of a man whom I never met and could never truly know. Through this process I became closer with existing family members who soon became close collaborators, such as my Uncle Ernie who was in his late seventies at the time of the project.

Our stories may be boring. Our stories may be sad. Our stories may be happy. Our stories may be bad. But let us make our stories, our journeys while we can. For I’m not just a teller. I am a story, man.

I used the skills I had acquired in storytelling to re-tell the memories which were shared with me by my family members. Ernie, Laurie and Jackie revealed a sense of present absentness, a space which could not be filled after Lawrence’s death and it was this that drove me forward to attempt to fill it through the art of shared family folklore and the oral tradition.

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I re-told the stories that had been shared with me and first told them to my family members and then opened them up to a wider audience, performing both live and via more alternative modes of performance such as over the phone, letter and via Skype. Through this project I gained a sense of where my family came from. I know my families place within the Mining Industry’s history and the Mining Industry’s place within my family. I was given the chance to collaborate with family members, in particular my Uncle Ernie, who died soon after the project ended. This was significant. In attempting to get to know an older relative whom had I passed, I could never truly know him. Whereas Ernie and I became friends solely due to this project, the blood that tied us made us friends and I am pleased to have let him share his knowledge with me before his passing. I shall pass it on to younger generations, as he did. This is the true meaning of storytelling for me, the passing on of stories and knowledge from mouth to ear and ear to mouth.

Mike Wilson Professor Mike Wilson is the author of Storytelling and Theatre: Contemporary Professional Storytellers and their Art. Wilson’s words guided me through the practice based journey of Kin of Mine. Wilson taught me about Storytelling as a genre, a practice that has a history many styles. Wilson’s book led me to the Scottish International Storytelling Festival in Edinburgh, which was a highlight of Kin of Mine, it allowed me to converse, watch and learn from professional Storytellers as an audience member, as well as a researcher. Wilson also pointed me in the direction of many Storytellers who I now hold in high regard such as Jan Blake, Pat Speight and Will Coleman.

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Jeremy Deller Jeremy Deller is a video and installation artist and writer. Deller’s re-enactment of The Battle for Orgreave led me to my main area of focus within my mining research which was the 1984-85 Miners’ Strike. Deller interviewed and published the words of people who were involved in the conflict, allowing their individual stories to be told and allowing them from being members of a crowd to people in their own right, regardless of their view on the matter. His book, The English Civil War: Part II inspired me to give people a voice through me. However, I got my accounts from people who were no longer alive, from earlier periods in time. I found this to still be effective.

Oh, Mary! Oh, Mary is a solo performance by storyteller and actress, Bec Applebee, which tells the story of Mary Bryant; a Cornish woman who is imprisoned for theft and sent to work in Australia. Applebee’s performance as Bryant made me realise that one can perform a dead person’s story, if done sensitively and correctly. Bryant is renowned and it is a story that I believe should be told, much like I believe that the stories of miners must be told.

Matilda and Me Matilda and Me is a solo performance by performer, Ria Hartley. The piece revolves around the relationship between Hartley and her grandmother, Matilda. As I was researching my great-grandfather I found the piece to be particularly relevant to me as a maker and researcher. The only difference was, Matilda was still alive and Hartley knew her. Hartley’s piece was more than homage to her grandmother; it was an exploration of identity, race and place and how these things inform not just what we are but who we are. I took from this piece an understanding of how our family moulds us and a sense of the importance of heritage.

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In conversation with Uncle Ernie

I travelled to Weston Super-Mare to open up a dialogue with Uncle Ernie about my mining heritage and he shared with me much about Lawrence’s life, much of it having nothing to do with mining and more to do with his home life. It was an extremely helpful process and although I have not yet used the material, I will do so in the future; perhaps in the form of verbatim theatre or in a piece of sound performance.

‘...in that porch was a gas cooker and then on the left was what they call a Wash House, in there was another range and then your Granddad (Lawrence) and that would have a bath… in a big tin bath. And my Gran would fill it was hot water obviously, then they’d bath in there in front of the fire… It’s a bit… primitive like, you know but then again you’re going back to well, at least 1935 so I remember it when I was a kid because I used to go up there quite a lot. So I mean, from there to now… *Ernie laughs to himself* that is quite sort of ancient, but in those days it was quite the modern little cottage like, you know…’

Ernest Cole, 2013.

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Giant Balance presents ‘Do You Know Your Onions?’ Collaborators: Harry Best, Charlie Legg, Jessi Norgard, Rosie Wilson. Genres: Autobiographical Performance, Storytelling.

In February 2014 Giant Balance was formed; a company formed out of symmetry, reflection and a need to share. Aesthetically, Giant Balance could be said to be a mirror image of sorts.

We are two men. We are two women. We are two blondes. We are two brunettes. We are one.

Our obvious reflective physical appearance forced us to reflect in more ways than one. A bonding exercise, the sharing of memories, slowly and unintentionally developed into a piece of theatre. Do You Know Your Onions? is taking its’ audience on a journey into the memories of its’ four guides; but time is against us and there is a recipe to follow. Will these limitations help or hinder us in sharing our memories? Only time will tell. But one thing is for certain. We always end up with onion soup. Giant Balance has taken influence from Forced Entertainments’ Quizoola and works by Bobby Baker such as Table Occasions and Box Story. We are working closely with food to deliver the goods and spill the beans on what it is we care to share in a group of four people. 25


Bobby Baker Bobby Baker is a performance artist who works extensively with food and autobiography. Do You Know Your Onions? has contained the themes of food and autobiography from a very early stage and so naturally we were drawn to Baker. Baker tells stories of her life whilst creating art from food, such as in her piece Drawing on a Mother’s Experience during which she tells a very personal story about herself and her mother. During Do You Know Your Onions? I reveal facts about my mother, father, grandmother and brother and so I found comfort in the knowledge that Baker has done similar things before and that it is okay to do so, as long as it is done in a justified and correct manner. Baker has a light hearted method of presenting her pieces and I wished to create a familiar air. As an audience member I am aware that she is performing and yet I feel as though she is entirely at ease with the world. This light hearted way enables her to tell deeply personal facts about her life, sharing stories that could be uncomfortable for an audience to hear, but with charm and humour Baker presents an accessible account of the past, whilst creating something in the present.

Quizoola! Forced Entertainment’s Quizoola is an influence behind the devising process of Do You Know Your Onions? As soon as we realised that asking questions had moved on from a mere bonding exercise to a performative ritual, we turned to Quizoola! Quizoola is a durational performance which contains thousands of questions by Tim Etchells, typically lasting six hours. As each question is chosen, the mood of the piece can alter dramatically; going from comedy to drama as the piece remains constantly live and fresh. This is a feel that I wish to create with Do You Know Your Onions? An ‘on your feet’ attitude for the performers, not knowing what to expect, only when to expect it. The audience know just as much as you do and that creates a very fair and interesting playing field for me as a performer and as a maker.

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Purple. Not really, but if I had to choose one it’d be the Green Party. Enough that they clump together. Probably at least five. I like all animals, but I prefer dogs. They give you the instant gratification that I love. I love winter, but it’s too long. I want a half-winter. We choose what we choose because we’re desperate. It depends on whose company you’re in. Not everyone wants to hear it. 5th June 1992. It’s like, when the other person is laying down and you’re laying down but on top of them. It’s like doggy style but laying down. I don’t hate anyone but I strongly dislike some people. Jonathan Groff, Russell Tovey or Olly Murs. Recently I’ve started adding Coarse Sea Salt to my Scrambled Eggs. It’s taken twenty one years to start adding salt. I don’t think so. But they each have one that they understand more and that can seem like a favourite. I have several best friends, I’m really lucky. No, I see people every day and that’s all I need. No, luckily not. I’ve always considered myself a fruit person but since I’ve become a vegetarian, I’ve discovered some new veg that I really like. I’m perfectly okay with power. Always, I tell people off for not fastening their seatbelts. Now is never, we’re not fast enough to live in the moment, we chase after it and end up in the past. I like my Dad now. Thankfully no. I can shake my eyeballs so they look like they’re vibrating. I can’t shut up. I don’t know. Two minutes? Big noses, blue eyes and big smiles. I’d ask if you were okay and probably offer up a hug. At the moment, zero. I prefer brown bread. August: Osage County, The Devil Wears Prada and The Iron Lady. I’d love to play Winston Churchill or Henry the Eighth. Nobody knows their onions.

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Additional credits: Front Cover: Jono Whitehead Photography. Image, page 20: Jono Whitehead Photography.

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Charlie Legg: Artist Book