Director Krysianna Papadakis on the continued importance of queer representation in theatre
INTERVIEW BY JENNIFER CERYS
JENNIFER CERYS: First off, describe Willow in three words?
KRYSIANNA PAPADAKIS: Impactful, intimate, original.
As director, what are you most looking forward to about bringing Willow to the stage?
I think what drew me to the show first of all, was the excitement of seeing relatable queer experiences on the stage. Willow plays a lot with form, moving between a TED-talk, game-show style world and the “real world.” I think the audience will love the diversity of perspectives and the variety of styles in the performance – there’s a very playful, interactive vibe that runs throughout, making Willow very unique.
Sexuality is presented as incidental to the characters and story in Willow, was that important to you?
At the core of the show lies a breakup between two people. The humour and emotion in the story will resonate with pretty much anyone, regardless of their background. Willow portrays experiences that are both distinctly queer and universally relatable: love, loss, but also subjectivity, disappointment, and growth.
Naturally, a lot of queer theatre focusses on struggle – both personal and political. It’s also good to balance out that representation and cater to other experiences, and Willow brings new themes to the table: domesticity, companionship and friendship.
Willow’s got a queer, female team bringing it to life. Why do you think it’s significant for queer people to tell their own stories?
From the production side of theatre, it’s important to involve as many different voices as possible. A lot of theatre, including queer theatre, has been inaccessible to many people in the past. The move towards more diverse, inclusive teams is creating new kinds of discussions about the process of telling a story.
While the search for “authenticity” is a complicated concept, it’s still the case that even queer stories in theatre are told in ways that, ultimately, aren’t always relatable. Queer stories that don’t fit into a mainstream narrative of queerness have historically been neglected, and I think our team is striving to expand how we perceive these identities.
What would you like the future to look like for queer theatre?
There’s still a lot of work to be done about the variety of voices and experiences in theatre. I’d like to see more women on stage telling their stories, as well as people of colour and people from working class backgrounds. A lot of theatre in London is set in similar socio-economic settings. As someone who’s not British, I’d also like to see queer theatre that is set in different locations and involves different cultural settings!
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