Interview: Jon Hicks, ‘It feels like a working holiday’

Come and meet ‘the Visionary’ who is said to have wisdom beyond knowledge. Watch him reveal his increasingly miraculous powers. The latest creation of Jon Hicks and Matt Rudkin, this ‘happening’ promises to deliver some magical, funny, dramatic & thought-provoking moments.

It’s not the only work by Hicks that could be described in that way. Since 2000 Hicks has been performing his shows of artistic oddities; starting as a speed-painting act, he has developed his shows to now include drawing, origami, audience participation, gentle comedy and getting inside a cardboard box.

He now appears in street festivals, arts festivals, cabarets and corporate events. He is also a core member of the smash hit variety company Slightly Fat Features, whose shows at Pleasance One at Edinburgh drew rave reviews. Ahead of bringing The Visionary to Glastonbury, we caught up with him to find out more.

Q&A with Jon Hicks

How does it feel to be heading back to Glastonbury Festival?

Always fun to be heading to Glastonbury, excited at the prospect of catching up with old friends and  returning to a world that is familiar and comforting but also looking forward to find something new and unexpected as always.

This year, it will also be a new sort of experience for me, because I’m taking a different show for the first time, I’ve always previously gone with my speed painting act, but this year I am going with The Visionary, a relatively new show. Also taking my 13 year old son with me for his first  Glastonbury. So a couple of extra things to worry about, I’m mixing it up this year.

What is it about the festival that keeps you coming back?

It’s different and the same every year, it feels very safe and manageable, but also tremendously exciting. It’s a magical festival.

There’s always something new to discover but it’s also very familiar and comforting.

I get to see lots of friends and acquaintances from my performing world, including 3 of my closest and oldest friends who I camp next to and hang out with a lot. So for us 4, it’s always a chance to catch up, it feels like a working holiday

What can people expect from your show?

“The Visionary” will be at Glastonbury for the first time. It’s a collaboration with another performer, Matt Rudkin.

The Visionary is a Mystic, Psychic, Sorcerer, Street Prophet of Our Times. Expect Maxims, Magic, Mayhem, Proclamations, Predictions, Illusions and Panic.

“This is modern street theatre at its immersive best – hilarious, ridiculous and yet mysterious and subversive. Throughout you are not sure what you are going to get – the meaning of life, a magic show, some gags or a full on riot – and the audience wants it all! By the end we are left equally baffled and enlightened, wiping away tears of delight, and you want to see it all over again.” said Joe Mackintosh CEO of Out There Arts

Does playing to a festival audience change how you approach a performance?

Not really, I am used to tweaking performances on the day to suit different environments.

Each stage/arena at Glastonbury has a different vibe so it’s more about approaching it as appropriate to the particular setting 

Are there any other acts you’re looking forward to seeing over the weekend?

Theatre and Circus Acts:

  • Paul Morocco, great comedy cabaret act, want to take my boy, they met when he was 3 years old and I was touring with Paul.
  • George Egg – funny cooking show, 
  • Fraser Hooper (a clown): one of my favourites, performed at my wedding.
  • Dick Pulsing (Australia’s 2nd strongest man and friend to Matt Barnard) – very funny morning thing.
  • Pete Dobbing – class compere
  • Laser Kiwi – truly great New Zealand comedy circus trio
  • Something unusual in Mavericks late-night cabaret

Music acts:

(I haven’t been to the Pyramid stage in many years but, my son want to see a couple of acts, so it’s inevitable) Elton John, Rick Astley (my son is a Rickroller), Lizzo, some great retro rockabilly kind of band I discover in the Rocket Lounge at Shangri-La, something in Strummerville. Matt Barnard’s Supergroup in the Theatre and Circus backstage bar

The Visionary is on The Glebe at Glastonbury Festival on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.