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INTERVIEW – MARK STOREN, The Moxy Collective, August 2012

| 4 September 2012 | Reply

The Moxy Collective
Writer/Performer “The Polite Gentleman” at The Blue Room Theatre

DATES – 4 – 22 September 2012
Tickets available from:  The Blue Room Theatre
9227 7005



Perth artist Mark Storen presents his new show The Polite Gentleman at The Blue Room Theatre from the 4th to the 22nd of September, 2012, following taking his one man show A Drunken Cabaret around the world during 2011 and 2012.  An artist, performer, writer and director, Storen’s creativity is palbable as he talks about his unique take on the Delta Blues Crossroads legend featured in his new show.

Hi Mark, thanks for taking the time out to talk with us

No worries, thanks for having me!

You’re starring in THE POLITE GENTLEMAN at The Blue Room Theatre from the 4th to 22nd September – can you tell us a little about the story?

It’s a story about a man [named Mouse] who wakes up one day wanting more from his life. He’s prayed to a God he no longer believes in, somehow his prayers get diverted – enter The Polite Gentleman. The Devil comes in many disguises, in this case he’s a chicken who offers Mouse a way to make the disappointment with his life stop. Like always, it never turns out quite like Mouse had hoped.

What was it about the Crossroads story which enticed you to write The Polite Gentleman?

I’ve always been a fan of the blues. I think the story telling aspect always appealed to me. I’ve also had a fascination with God and the Devil, I feel like they might be great mates who had a disagreement about how to manipulate mankind. Maybe they made a bet with each other to try their own unique approach on humanity, coming back to discuss the success of their different approaches. The Robert Johnson Crossroads story has a great wanting, a desire to change one’s lot in life and certainly appeals to me as a point of departure for my story.

The Robert Johnson story that has spawned countless books, at least 2 documentaries and a 1986 Hollywood movie staring Ralph Macchio.  Being familiar with the Crossroads story already, how much research into the background of it did you need to do?

I’m a massive fan of the movie and the mythology. To be honest over the years out of my own interest in this kind of mythology and the blues music, I think I’d built up a certain amount of knowledge about this particular history. I think this certainly permeated The Polite Gentleman as I was writing it. I was listening to Robert Johnson’s Crossroads along with a lot of other great songs about dealings with the devil, so the idea of making a pact with the devil for a talent or power is very much present in my work, and influenced by the Robert Johnson story. Having said that The Polite Gentleman has it’s own unique take on the idea of bargaining with the devil. For a start the devil in my story is a chicken!

I went to the famous junction of Highway 61 and 49 in Clarkesdale, Mississippi a few years ago, and also went off the beaten track to try and find the actual Crossroads near Dockery Plantation, not too far from Clarkesdale.  It’s really interesting how this story dates back in some form or another as far back as Faust in the 16th Century – how do you explain the appeal of the legend?

One of the things I talk about in the show is how men have always been victims of their desires, their vanity. I think we are always reaching for validation, to be remembered for having great impact on the world around us. We are never satisfied with our lot in life always reaching for more, often at a cost. I think it’s been a recurring theme throughout history. There’s something appealing about an otherworldly talent too and the story behind that. Seeing some artists and thinking, they’re either in bed with the big guy in the sky, or the fella holding the pitchfork, cause that just ain’t natural!

In a way, you could almost look on the Crossroads legend as a parallel to an old school record contract – sell your soul to the Devil for the ability to be heard by millions, then go and die penniless…

Agreed! Yep, it’s not uncommon, many great artists across genres, only recognized after they die with nothing to rub together. Maybe that’s how the story started!

Certainly the mystique of the old Blues guys must carry a lot of appeal for someone as creative as yourself who is a writer, performer, director and more?

Yes, very much. I love the magic, the broken down weary way of those guys, wine stains on their singlets, mischief in their eyes. So many stories. Raw, honest and rich. It’s extremely appealing.

The blurb for the show states that it is “absurd, surreal and enthralling” – it sounds like you have some surprises up your sleeve?

Essentially it’s a pretty simple tale, but yes the creative team behind me have a few technical surprises and some beautiful sound, lighting and design elements which help with the flavour of the show. We try to create a sense that the world is magical or otherworldly in some ways. I’ve got a really excellent crew working on the show, I’m very lucky to be working with those guys!

And after the Blue Room Theatre run of THE POLITE GENTLEMAN, what’s next for you?

I actually jump on the other side of things and direct a show which is in November at The Blue Room so I’m pretty excited about that. I’m really hoping to take The Polite Gentleman somewhere next year, whether it be a fringe festival overseas or maybe a return season, depending on how it all goes

Thanks Mark – I can’t wait to see the show – Good luck with it!!

Cheers mate! Catch ya after the show for a chat!


Category: Interviews

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