RADAR 2014: Q&A with American Boy

Hetain Patel, writer & performer of American Boy, on being influenced by Bruce Lee, listening exclusively to Michael Jackson and making a show entirely of Hollywood film quotes.

Can you tell us about your show in one sentence?

It’s a show made entirely of Hollywood film quotes that I perform physically and vocally.

What questions lies at the heart of the show; what are you asking the audience?

If I asked you to list all the films and character quotes that make you who you are, what would they be and what would they say about you?

Tell us three things about yourself/selves, one of them must be a lie.

1. Craig David is my cousin.
2. I made a life-sized transformer robot with my dad.
3. I didn’t choose to read a book until I graduated from University.

What sparked the original idea for this piece and how has it evolved?

Impersonations I used to do as a kid in the playground. All of my work is identity based so I was interested in making a list of all the films and quotes that have influenced me or stay in my memory, to see what sort of self portrait it would make.

What excites you about being part of RADAR 2014?

I’m a visual artist so this is the first time I’ve shown something in a purely theatre and new writing context. I’m a bit of an imposter in this scene, which is one of my favourite things to be as I learn so much from it.

Do you feel your work is inspired by, responding to or reacting against any work from wider culture (films, art, music, etc)?

Lots of influences but this quote from one of my heroes Bruce Lee maybe sums them all up:

What direction do you feel yourself moving in creatively, and what comes next for you as an artist?

Continuing to work in a large variety of media and continue to grow my creative vocabulary. Coming up in the new year I have exhibitions in Mumbai, London, Pittsburg USA, and Brisbane Australia so I’m busy making new sculptures and video installations for these. And I’ll also begin work on a sequel to American Boy.

We’re compiling a RADAR playlist to play in the bar throughout the festival – we’re asking the audience and our Twitter followers to nominate songs that feel ‘on the pulse’, music (from any era) that they feel is under the radar, and music that inspires them. What songs would you add to it and why?

The Way You Make Me Feel – Michael Jackson
They Don’t Care About Us – Michael Jackson
(Michael Jackson was pretty much all I listened to growing up)

American Boy opens RADAR on the 6 November and runs til the 8 Nov.