Interview with Cabin Fever, Manchester Met graduates Jamie Pritchard and Ed Roberts

We were lucky enough to sit down with funny men Cabin Fever to chat about Double-0, real life and what it’s like to be from the Midlands.
(Editor’s note: This transcript has been edited and sections of the original interview have been omitted for grammar/clarity. If you wish to hear a bit more of the interview, you can do so here:

Jamie: Hello we are Cabin fever and we’re performing our new performance ‘Double-0’ here at the Axis Arts Centre on the 9th of March 2017, come and watch.

Ed: It’s at 6:45

Jamie: Pm

How did cabin fever form?

Jamie: So the company came about in march 2015, St paddy’s day. We were having a few ‘beverages’ outside the white horse pub in Nantwich

Ed: This is when we were studying CTP at MMU.

Jamie: Yeah we were students at the time. Our 3rd year was approaching and we had to decide what we were going to do for the open projects, and one of the major snooker tournaments was on or had just finished around that time… It was you, actually-

Ed: Was it me?

Jamie: It was you, who had the idea initially to get a snooker table.

Ed: Does that mean if we like, separate and get a divorce, I get ownership?

Jamie: 50/50… So, the idea came about there and we decided to work together on it for Open Projects in our final year.

Ed: Well for 2 years we had worked together on every piece bar one didn’t we? We worked together through second year and third year, but the first proper piece as Cabin Fever was 5 minutes 20 seconds.

Tell us a bit about ‘Double-0’

Jamie: Double-0 is a piece which on the surface is about James Bond; the James Bond world, the James Bond franchise which this year is 55 years old. As the piece goes on I suppose you could say it becomes less about commander Bond and more about Ed and myself; our connections, our relationships with each other and our heritage.

Ed: It plays on a lot of Nostalgia, but it’s a nostalgia of things from before our time, which is a bit of a bizarre thing. We’re playing music from before we’re born, talking about actors who were in their heyday before we were born, films from before we were born… which is an interesting confusion really, when we’re talking about something that happened in 1973 and we obviously weren’t around then. It talks about what it means to look up to these masculine role models as a man. It explores whether the people we looked up to as kids, thinking “They are what a man should be,” whether they actually were potentially a negative influence on who we are.


What have you enjoyed most about creating Double-0?

Jamie: What I’ve enjoyed most is that it’s pretty much a follow on from our previous performance 5 minutes 20 seconds, which has let us find more stories and narratives that co-incidentally or un-coincidentally connect us together as a duo.

Ed: 5.20 is all about us and our background and formed from stories about the midlands, but this piece is even more…

Jamie: Rooted.

Ed: Yeah, it can’t have come out of anywhere else. It couldn’t have come from anywhere else physically. That’s nice, as two guys from the midlands to be able to put it on the map.

Jamie: It means that every time we meet up, we’re able to take ownership of it even more. We’re finding even more snippets of things that have brought us together each time, so each rehearsal we discover a little something we didn’t know. That’s really nice.


What have been your biggest challenges as artists?

Jamie: Now that we’re not students, the challenges have been just things we’ve maybe taken for granted when we were students. Things like having access to book rooms, to use the tech, just everyday things that you take for granted.

Ed: Now we’re not living 2 minutes away, now we’re an hours drive from each other, and because we’re rehearsing in Crewe… how long does it take you to get here?

Jamie: From my house, say an hour and ten?

Ed: And from mine, say three hours? That’s six hours total, here and back.

Jamie: That’s a lot of petrol… The challenges have really just been the realisation of having to go from student to adult I suppose. Simple things like finding days in the week when we’re not both working to meet up.

Ed: And the pressure of doing it outside of an undergrad, because on the course if you failed it was a bit like ‘Oh, okay, I get a bad mark’ but now if we fail… we really fail in the real world. That added pressure – and it’s good, to have that, because it’s exciting, but it’s exciting in the way that jumping out of a plane and not knowing if your parachute works… you find out on the way, one way or another.


What have you done since leaving MMU?

Ed: We’ve been getting back into real life again. That weird place where you’re a graduate but you’re living at home.

Jamie: We have to work for a living now, instead of relying on loans, so we’re just doing jobs to keep ourselves getting by, but at the same time trying to keep this partnership going on. It’s been nice, but challenging.


What advice would you give to current first years?

Jamie: The main piece of advice: utilise the facilities that you have. Don’t take them for granted. The technicians are an absolute wonder and if you need anything, go and talk to them. Utilise the spaces you have because once you are gone… you’re gone and it’s much harder.

Ed: Be adventurous with your ideas. In my first year I put a car in the space, in second year we built a platform from one side of the space to another, in third year we put a 15 tonne snooker table in the space and then we built a 15 foot long by 8 foot high wall which moved around. Be adventurous, because once you get out of here, when you are new on the stage… it is a big risk to say to people “we’re going to do this show and it’s got all this tech.”

Jamie: Go see as much stuff as you possibly can. There’s gonna be stuff that won’t relate to you, that you won’t find interesting or relates to you, but that’s not a bad thing because you can work out what you don’t like.

Ed: Don’t pigeon hole yourself into your course though. Don’t say ‘I do CTP, so I’m only going to see contemporary theatre.’ Go and see all different mediums; everything you can, because you will get ideas. We use a lot of music. We didn’t study music, we don’t do music but it has massively influenced us. When you are back at home if you’re not around here, go to your local venues and support it, see what’s out there. Odds are, you will see something that completely shifts how you view theatre.


What’s next for Cabin Fever?

Jamie: We want to do a trilogy. It started with 5 minutes 20 seconds.

Ed: Which we intend to expand to an hour long piece.

Jamie: The next is this piece, which we’re doing 9th March here at the Axis (Editor: For free). Then thirdly, the final piece of the trilogy is going to be a piece even more so about the midlands. It will explore our relationship between each other even more.

Ed: The two current pieces expose the similarities and differences between us as people, but the idea for the final piece will push our relationship to breaking point.

Any final things you like to say?

Jamie: We had this discussion a few months ago – everything nowadays seems to be about (and no disrespect to these places) but either right up the North or down in London.

Ed: People identify themselves as being Northern or Southern, and we’re not. We’re from the Midlands.

Jamie: We’re proud of that, and we want to sing and dance about it.

Ed: Absolutely, and to give it a voice on stage, because these are places which haven’t really been talked about. As if there’s just a gap between Manchester and London which you wander by on the train. It’s not. It’s where we’re from, there’s so much to talk about and that’s what we intend to do.


Cabin Fever : Double-O is at Axis Arts Centre on Thursday March 9, 2017 at 6:45 pm. Tickets are £8 (£5 students and all concessions) available online (booking fees apply) or in person at Axis Box Office (no booking fee)