Sometimes you get talking to people in the theatre world where the work they are making couldn't be further from your own, but you find it just as exciting. But then you realise that you have much more in common than you think. When talking about his work Willy told us that he "likes making people laugh and being silly," and that is pretty much all we are about at Silent Faces. Plus wanting to talk about social issues that have a big impact on our lives, just like Willy. Willy chatted to us about his show, Bottom, that explores identity and queer relationships, and it looks brill.
What drove you to make Bottom?
A couple of years ago I got massively anxious about sex - ie the whole top/bottom thing in queer relationships. I had been a bottom for my first few sexual relationships and then found myself in a situation where I felt I was falling for somebody, but that I needed to be a top for the relationship to workout. Cue erectile dysfunction, loads of anxiety and stress about problematic queer sexual politics and identity.
It's this experience that is the driving force behind Bottom. It has come out of a difficult journey to find confidence, both sexually and within queer culture.
This is my debut show as a solo artist. I did an amazing workshop with Bryony Kimmings a few years back which gave birth to the project, I've been chipping away at it ever since. Kimmings has been a massive support, along with some fabulous South-West venues such as The Bike Shed, Exeter Phoenix and Bristol Old Vic Ferment.
Tell us a bit about you as a performer/theatre-maker
I'm based in Devon and London. I've just trained as an actor at the Oxford School of Drama, and I'm an Associate Artist of the Exeter Phoenix. Recent acting work includes Peter Pan at Regent's Park Open Air Theatre. I love work that mashes up theatrical form, unpicks social hangups and has top soundtracks. I like making people laugh and being silly. And Beyoncé.
Why do you think addressing LGBTQIA+ issues is important, and why is theatre a good place for it?
I want to make Bottom for people to say 'Oh my god that is exactly how I feel' or 'Oh my god I never knew this'. Its so so important to raise visibility, awareness and representation of LGBTQIA+ experiences and issues. If Bottom was around when I was going through this stuff I wouldn't have felt so confused, alone and isolated. There is not enough discussion and awareness of the actual, living, breathing experiences. We need characters and stories that aren't stereotyped, underwritten or sidelined. Its about making the future of theatre for now, and for the next generation.
Theatre is a good place for it because it holds a lot of power. There are so many possibilities and opportunities to be creative, but you have to work hard to keep an audience with you. If you can take them on a journey, challenge, ask questions AND be entertaining, creative and new - all in the real time of being together in one room - then I think that is bloody magic. You can make something which really moves people, inspiring change and the opening of minds/hearts.
What was the last show you saw that you think everyone should see?
Misty by Arinzé Kene. I think it's a game changer. It's being transferred to Trafalgar Studios, go go goo!
What else in the Edinburgh Fringe programme are you excited to see?
'A CLOWN SHOW ABOUT RAIN' (obvs). Annndd 'Tricky Second Album' from In Bed With My Brother, the ThisEgg shows, 'Skin A Cat', 'Really Want To Hurt Me', 'Catch of the Day (A Sturgeon Story)'... there's loads!!!!!
Bottom is on 16.25 at Summerhall from the 1-26 August!