action hero news


The life of a crash helmet
July 12, 2011, 3:50 pm
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I wrote this in pen on the back of a contract whilst I was bored on a flight from Bilbao to Brussels on 1st July 2011. I thought I’d write it up online.

Last night I made an unsuccessful attempt to jump a fountain of diet coke on a child’s bicycle for the 33rd time. The ramp was positioned too close to a pillar, I went over the handlebars and collided head first with the corner of the pillar. The sound of the collision provoked a gasp from the crowd followed by silence. I was unhurt though because I was wearing a crash helmet. I’m making one more jump with this helmet in Manchester before buying a new one., and the decision to replace it has made me look at it closely and I realise I’ve fallen in love with it as an object. It carries the marks from all the 33 performances its been part of. Big gouges and sweeping scratches scar most of one side. The traces left from Gemma’s high heels. The top is scalded and burnt from being set alight over and over. Its started to blister and flake and the number one that used to be emblazoned in the colours of the U.S flag on the front is almost all gone. A victim of the white spirit used to clean away the remnants of the flame gel. A new scratch marks the place where my head met the pillar last night. Like the show it reveals a dirty reality behind the spectacle. It looks worn, tired and faded. But there’s a glimmer of something heroic about it that makes me want to keep it or show it off. There’s something romantic about its unglamorous scuffs and burns. We’ve carried it with us on exciting journeys to New York, Paris and Barcelona but Its also been with us to Colchester, Chichester, Leeds and Crewe. Its been in the boot of a broken down car on the side of the A1 in January and unable to start in the fog and drizzle of the Pyrenees. Its been soaked in coca cola and gone moldy in the basement of an old police station in Bristol. Its life replicating the pathetic desperation of Evel Knievel’s broken bones in dead end mid-Western U.S towns. The subject of thousands of photographs taken by audience members it sometimes is the only thing you can see on the developed film, reflecting the light from a theatre rig in Aberystwyth, a tunnel in London, a club in Glasgow, a gallery in St Etienne. Like the surface level glamour of big jumps in Las Vegas and Wembley stadium you can’t see its burn marks and shoddy stickers peeling off.

We have to replace the helmet because its started to fail. For so long it has stoically deflected the kicks from Gemma’s left and right feet while I’ve felt nothing except a disconcerting shove. No pain, no headaches. But recently it hasn’t felt quite so tough. I can feel the heel when it strikes and it sends a gasp of air from my lungs. I can hear the crackling of the fire as it burns above my head. Once it can’t take a beating anymore its useless. So we’re looking for a shiny new one to take to Edinburgh in August and because the old one no longer has a role to play in our home made stunt show its made its last fly. But I feel like I can’t throw it away. I feel attached to it. I want to exhibit it on a plinth and celebrate its life spent protecting my head from self-inflicted idiocy. Its such a wonderful document of our show but also of our life in the last few years. The absurdity of jumping over mentoes fountains off a wooden ramp for a living. Standing in front of a room full of strangers, getting my head kicked in over and over again while people take photos and grin. I’ve poured 64 litres of coca cola into my partners mouth. I’ve been put out by a fire extinguisher, I’ve run around naked from the waist up and bleeding trying to pick up ping pong balls from under the feet of clubbers on a dancefloor in Glasgow. I’ve watched Gemma break her arm in Newcastle, sat on the side of a Spanish motorway in +30 degree heat watching smoke stream from the bonnet. I’ve washed cola out of my jeans in the laundromats of New York, France and Wales. I’ve had beer bottles thrown at my head, I’ve been stood on by a drunk, I’ve loaded a ramp and a child’s bicycle into my car and unloaded it and loaded it and unloaded it and loaded it and unloaded it and carried it on a subway and loaded it again and unloaded it over and over again. The helmet has been with me all the way and when I look at it now it looks completely ridiculous, completely stupid, completely brilliant.

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all quiet on the Western front
September 9, 2008, 1:34 pm
Filed under: news


So after a hectic time at the brilliant ‘Forest Fringe we’re now spending some time developing ‘Watch Me Fall’ ready for a couple of work-in-progress dates in Autumn and the premiere of the full length version at Arnolfini in February. Keep an eye on the news page for exact dates.

Meanwhile I’m off to FinlandĀ  to the Anti-Festival with Search Party to challenge the town of Kuipio to a marathon game of table tennis. Its then going to be performed at Leeds Met Studio again on December 5th so come along and try and beat me!

You might have noticed (or not) that we’ve been resting ‘A Western’ for a while as well but we’ll be performing it again in March next year in Spain as part of a British Council showcase. More details will follow shortly,

until then……..James xxx



Action Hero at Edinburgh Forest Fringe
May 25, 2008, 6:51 pm
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Edinburgh has never been on the cards for us in the past because of the massive costs involved being unfeasible for a company as small as us but this year we’re going to be involved thanks to the brilliant ‘Forest Fringe’. Its a neat idea that means companies can perform for free and outside the competitive meat market that is the Fringe. We’ll be there for a few days performing a work-in-progress of our as yet un-named new piece that we showed an initial sketch of at Arnolfini’s ‘I am your Worst Nightmare’ (the re-enaction of Evel Knievel’s 1967 Caesar’s Palace jump). The nature of the Forest Fringe means we can spend some time working on the show and show it in front of a good natured, thrill-seeking Edinburgh audience without the horrible pressures and financial commitments that go with a normal Edinburgh show. Although I’ve been to Edinburgh as an audience member quite a lot I’ve never performed there and I’ve often noted how it really lacks an actual ‘Fringe’ in the truest experimental sense of the word, which is a shame considering how many audience members there are there eager for new and exciting work so hopefully the Forest Fringe can change all that. Look out for more details of exact dates etc but in the mean time have a look at Lyn Gardner’s blog about it

<http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/theatre/2008/05/edinburgh.html&gt;



Action Hero in Punchdrunk’s Masque of the Red Death
March 27, 2008, 11:55 am
Filed under: news

you might remember that we were commissioned by BAC last year to make a performance that existed within the confines of Punchdrunk’s Masque of the Red Death. Well Punchdrunk’s run has been extended and we’ve been asked back to perform it again.

We’ll be there next week on monday, tuesday and wednesday (31st, 1st, 2nd) in a tiny hidden space so if you happen to be going to see the show on one of those days come and seek us out!

We’ll also be spending the week at BAC working on development of ‘How to Disappear’ to be performed at this years Burst festival in May.



work-in-progress @ Residence
March 12, 2008, 10:51 am
Filed under: news

We’re starting work on a new piece of work and will be showing very early ideas at Residence from 8pm on 29th March. Tom Marshman will also be performing on the night as well.

Residence is at The Old Horfield Police Station,

6 Sommerville road, Bishopston, Bristol.

Turn right after Ocean estate agents on Gloucester road and its the red door number 6.

They’ll be booze and chat afterwards.

See you there xx



‘A Western tour over…..but wait’
February 19, 2008, 11:26 am
Filed under: news

Well the tour is over and we had a great time. A fitting finale in Alsager arts centre with a big lively crowd who shot our hero down like no others before!

If you missed us then not to worry however because ‘A Western’ is not dead yet. We’ll be performing it again as part of the Burst festival at BAC in London on the 23rd and 24th of May. Also that week on the 19th, 20th and 21st we’ll be showing the finished version of ‘How to Disappear’ for the first time so if you’re in London there is an Action Hero feast awaiting you in May. Also at BAC we’re hoping to revive the short 5 minute piece we did inside Punchdrunk’s Masque of the Red Death’ but dates are yet to be confirmed…..

Also in May ‘A Western’ will be showing in our hometown Bristol, which we’ll have more details about very soon so keep your eyes peeled.

Until then we’re getting busy starting work on a new show…..

look out for more details coming soon……



Tour dates announced
December 7, 2007, 7:08 pm
Filed under: news

After beginning our tour at Leeds Met on 5th and 6th, here are the rest of the dates for 2008. Hope to see you there!!

17th January 08 at Warwick Arts Centre – www.warwickartscentre.co.uk

22nd January 08 at Exeter Phoenix – www.exeterphoenix.org.uk

1st February 2008 at Contact Theatre,Manchester – www.contact-theatre.org

8th February 08 at Tramway Glasgow as part of NRLA – www.newmoves.co.uk

12th February 08 at Alsager Arts Centre – www.alsagerartscentre.org.uk
Happy New Year,

love gemma and james xx