Saturday, 7 July 2018

Gay or Queer: Willy Hudson @ Edfringe 2018

A queer coming-of-age remix about bums, Beyoncé and burnt fish fingers.

Written and performed by Willy Hudson | Directed by Rachel Lemon
Cairns Lecture Theatre, Summerhall (26), 1 – 26 Aug 2018 (not 2,13,20), 16:25 (50 mins)

Locked in his bathroom during a tragic third date, Willy Hudson asks: ‘Are you a top or a bottom?’

Would you identify your show as 'gay' or 'queer'? What makes you define the show with this label?

I identify Bottom as a queer show. Largely because I identify as a queer person. The experiences and issues that I explore in the show are largely inclusive of the broader queer community, and come from living and existing in alternative, queer spaces. 

I talk a lot about the top/bottom position in sex - yes this is a loud 'gay' narrative, but it goes beyond that. It crosses gender and sexuality. 

I also generally like 'queer' because I can make a choice in using that word. When I was bullied at school 'gay' became something I grew to hate, and I had no control over it. I still catch people saying 'oh thats so gay' etc when they are talking about something they think is shit. 

Which is dumb. So I have different associations with that word that don't feel comfortable. I recognise 'queer' has been a offense in the past but I feel the reclaiming of it has become more celebratory and open. I'm happy to put it on my flyer!

What differences do you see between the labels 'gay' and 'queer'?

'Queer' for me is more fluid. It lets you say 'yes, I am living in an alternative way to the status quo, but you also don't really need to know the details of that'. It's inclusive of gender and sexuality, whereas 'gay' - a lot of the time - is not. It also depends on the instance, sometimes 'gay' is appropriate, sometimes 'queer' is. Depending who you're talking about, who you are talking to, what the platform is etc. Some people prefer 'gay', some people prefer 'queer', that has to be respected. 

I also think 'gay' can become complicated. Like, do you mean people with same-sex preferences, or do you just mean cis men that date cis men? A lot of people make assumptions, and people will feel excluded from that. Which is fine if you have reason, but when you are trying to bring people together it feels slightly off. 

But I think 'queer' can do that. 

Why do you think I am asking this question, particularly of your show?

Maybe because 'queer' has had a recent resurgence? And what the motives are for shows like mine using a blanket term like 'queer' to address and communicate to an audience of loads of different, specific identities? I get that! 

But I do think that the fluidity within 'queer' is valuable. Particularly with shows like mine, that are trying to open up and explore the broad experiences that happen when you live outside of heterosexual relationships. 

Willy’s debut solo show puts the queer experience centre stage, through storytelling, song and dancing to Beyoncé. This honest and funny story unfolds during a disastrous third date, where Willy attempts to overcome his performance anxiety. 

In a world of zero-hour contracts, online dating and late-night clubbing, Bottom confronts attitudes towards masculinity, femininity and confidence in modern queer culture.

Willy calls Bottom a ‘queer coming-of-age remix’. He says ‘it’s a comedy but it has a big heart. It’s about overcoming anxiety and allowing yourself to be vulnerable’.

Bottom is supported by Bryony Kimmings, The Arts Council, Bristol Old Vic Ferment and Exeter Phoenix.

Willy Hudson is a performer and writer from Devon. He recently graduated from The Oxford School of Drama and is an Associate Artist of the Exeter Phoenix. Willy likes to confront social hang-ups with autobiographic storytelling, comedy, fusion of theatrical form and cracking soundtracks. Recent acting credits include: Peter Pan (Regent’s Park Open Air Theatre) and Islanders (Soho Theatre).

Rachel Lemon trained as an actor before starting to make work as a director. After graduating from the acting course at Rose Bruford in 2017, Rachel wrote and directed her first play Catch (Co-written with Yvonne Lawlor) at the Hen and Chicken. Following that Rachel has gone on to assist directors at the Young Vic, The Other Room and The Old Red Lion.


Company Information
Written and performed by Willy Hudson
Directed by Rachel Lemon
Lighting design by Lucy Adams
Sound design by Tic Ashfield

Listings information
Cairns Lecture Theatre, Summerhall, 1 Summerhall, Edinburgh, EH9 1PL
1 – 26 Aug (not 2nd,13th,20th) 16.25 – 17.15
Previews 1-3 Aug: £5
4 – 26 Aug: £10 (£8)

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