We talk to Derren Brown about his new show, coming to us next month.
Q: Derren, this is the second leg of the Miracle tour, following a hugely successful West End run. Are you looking forward to being on the road again?
Enormously. I’m only getting a three week break after the West End – just enough to catch my breath and maybe get away for a bit. It’s an enormously enjoyable show to do, and I’ve never toured straight after the West End before, which I think will be fun as it’s in such good shape. I can’t wait to get started.
Q: What are the biggest challenges for you doing this show?
I had no idea if the second half would work at all when we started. In theory, my audiences are totally the wrong audiences to get to the place I need to get them to. As there’s no way of testing how an audience will respond without having an audience, I just had to get up there and do it on the first night and see how it went. It went very well, which was a huge relief. It still needed a lot of work, and after a week or two of shifting and polishing things, the show felt right. Since then we’ve continued to work on it and now it feels terrific – a very long way from its opening week in Dartford last year. It’s a bold and ‘ballsy’ second half, as all my favourite things are. Once I realised it was going to work well – as it could have fallen flat on its face – it’s been a joy to work on theatrically and get to a great place.
Q: Miracle has certainly captured the public’s imagination and ignited a lot of comment within the media. What would you say separates this show from previous tours?
Without getting too much into the content, this is the first show that is about things I find important. Others have had autobiographical bits in them, some more authentic than others, but this one is about things I find important. It has a philosophical underpinning I really care about. It’s ultimately, I suppose, about what makes us happier.
Q: Is it true that this is the last year you’ll be on tour in the UK for a while?
Yes it is. It’s been 14 years of touring, and that’s with writing a new show every two years. I may do something overseas for a change, but nothing major here in 2017. After that I’m not sure. I love touring so I don’t imagine I’m stopping for good quite yet. But a break would be lovely, not so much from the touring itself, but from the creation of new shows. It’s a lot of work getting them up to speed.
Q: What will you miss most about life on the road?
I enjoy the ease of having group of friends: it’s something I’ve never had socially. I choose my team based more than anything on how delightful they are to spend time with. Having a drink and a chat after the show as we all wind down is just wonderful. I like the change from week to week. One city feels like home, like you’ve been there forever, and then you’re off and it all starts again. That’s fun, I like changes of scene. And Sunday roasts as we travel from one city to another. Then there’s ‘day-off socks’: we have to wear black socks for the show so we go wild on Sundays and try to outdo each other with the wildest socks we can find. We’re pretty rock’n’roll like that. I think the Stones did the same in the 70s.
Q: Can you give us the latest progress report on your book about happiness? Can we expect it to be published this year?
I’m hoping so, yes. I’m editing it now and trying to get it down from 800 pages to something more manageable. I’ll miss writing it though – nothing compares to spending a stolen afternoon assembling your thoughts and finding the best language for them. It’s very edifying, and I feel I am at my best when I write. Once the book is on the shelf I move on and forget about it: I can’t ever read it in case I find errors or places where my thoughts have changed. Previous books have been whimsical and quick to write: this has been very involved and long-term for me. The challenge at the moment is to bring three years’ worth of thought and writing (that happened here and there when I had time on the road and between other projects) into something that hangs together well.
Derren Brown: Miracle is at The Marlowe Monday 8 February to Saturday 13 February.