"I'm always interested in the same themes: love, sex, death. This time, there's a little bit about belief and faith and the fear of death - which is new territory for me." In Human Being he looks not only at death, but at the other things that pass away: "I was badly injured last year and I was told that I'd never dance again, and that got me thinking about a part of my life that was going to end." (In fact, his dancing career made an unexpected recovery after a successful operation on his ankle.) "As I get older, I know that I won't be able to do this or that any more. It's a mid-life crisis, I suppose. I don't want it to sound like I'm getting on stage and doing some kind of psycho-therapy, it's just that I need some kind of personal connection between me and the work I do."
Charnock has long been laying the groundwork for his life after dance. He has made work for Volcano Theatre Company and last year created Heroine, a piece for five dancers inspired by the life of Billie Holiday. "I enjoy working with theatre companies and I'm writing a lot more. If my body does give in, I can always sit down and just talk."
You would have thought that an extra skill would be to a dancer's advantage, but it can play havoc with your funding. "The funding is really, really difficult - the dance department of the Arts Council say it's not really dance, the theatre department say it's not really theatre. I suffer terribly from that - not just from getting money, but from the audience as well. Someone will ask a friend about the show, `What does he do?'. `Well, it's not really dance, it's sort of theatre and he sings a bit.' Nowadays, I say it's like a musical, only I do it on my own."
Despite the serious subject matter, Charnock insists that Human Being is not all doom and gloom. "I enjoy it. I made it because I wanted to enjoy myself on stage for a change, rather than this awful suffering business. It's one of the funniest shows I've done. I find it very difficult to take anything seriously. If I do, I think `Come on Nigel, who are you kidding? Remember, you're from Stockport'.''
`Human Being' is at The Arts Theatre, WC2 (0171-836 3334) 23 Feb-7 MarchReuse content