- To start with, tell us a little about your journey in to theatre and how it all started…
My journey into theatre started when I was very young. I’ve always performed in some capacity and from as young as I can remember I always wanted to be an actress. I studied Performing Arts at college and the did a Masters in Drama & Theatre Studies at the University of Kent. I graduated in 2010 and went on to work with the Italian Theatre company A.C.L.E, touring schools and teaching English for 8 months.
- You’re currently rehearsing your show, Until She Showed Me Otherwise, what was your inspiration behind it?
The project started as my final piece at University in 2010. I decided to do a one-woman-show about coming out. I wanted to tell women’s stories and share them with an audience. I also had a lot of unresolved issues with my own coming out so it was very cathartic process for me to devise the show and tell my own story on stage. It led to me rebuilding a friendship with my ‘first’ who inspired my story so it was a happy ending for me thankfully!
- What do you hope to achieve with the work? What audience are you targeting and what do you want to send them away with?
My main aim was always to reach out to the lesbian and bisexual women of the world who are struggling with the realisation of their sexuality and how to tell people. Coming Out can be a very stressful and tumultuous experience and I want people to know that they’re not alone, we’ve all been there and it will be okay.
Secondly, I wanted the project to reach the heterosexual masses. There were quite a few straight people in the audience the first time I performed it an Uni and the feedback I received was that it was eye opening for them. They didn’t realise the process that we go through as gay people, to not only accept it yourself but to then have to tell everyone. If I can change the perspective of even one heterosexual person, especially those that are homophobic, then I will have been successful.
- There are many coming out stories, books and events around at the moment, what do you think is the importance behind them?
It is so important to tell our stories and have them be heard. Not just by other people in our community but by the people who don’t understand or are bigoted towards us. I would love to get to a point in society where a project like this is obsolete because being gay is just as ‘normal’ as being straight but sadly we’re not there yet. There are still parts of the world where being gay is illegal so we must keep telling our stories and changing people’s misconceptions of what it is to be lesbian, gay and bisexual.
It is also important to see yourself represented in media and entertainment. Orange is the New Black is an amazing example of how one show can represent women from all backgrounds and walks of life. There is an incredible array of nationalities, sexualities and gender identities in that show. It’s important for people, young and old, to see themselves represented on screen.
- Can you see a day when they need no longer exist?
I would like to think that there will be a day when this isn’t necessary. We have already come so far from where we were – Ireland has just voted YES to same-sex marriage! There is still a long way to go though, but I do think that the up and coming generation are a lot more accepting of homosexuality in general. Society is so different now to how it was when I was a kid. No one ever would have disciplined someone for calling something ‘gay’ in a classroom, now there are campaigns to fight against it.
- You chose to focus solely on female coming out stories for your piece, what was your decision for this?
The project is based completely on verbatim accounts of people’s experiences, including my own. I chose to focus on women’s stories as I don’t feel, as a lesbian, I am qualified to stand on stage as ‘me’ and tell men’s stories. However, the LGBTQ community is so varied that there is inevitably going to be a crossover and I have been contacted by people who aren’t just cis-gendered lesbian or bisexual women.
I do plan to tread carefully when involving anyone’s story about their struggle with their gender identity though. I have no idea what it feels like to be trans so I would be coming at it from the ‘sexuality’ perspective rather than the ‘gender’ perspective. I would love to take the project further in the future though, and I have many wonderfully creative and talented friends who happen to be transgender that I would be happy to collaborate with to tell different types of stories.
- When can we next see you performing?
The project has taken on a new lease of life and I am now planning on turning it into a documentary style film, so it will give me a great chance to present these stories in a different medium. It will also be a challenge for me as an actor as I will still be playing each ‘character’ and the goal is for it to be as naturalistic as possible. It’s exciting to plan though and I have a great team around me to help so watch this space!
- Any other comments?
This is an ongoing project so I am always looking for women to interview. Even if their stories don’t end up in the final film or performance they all go on the website (with permission). If anyone is interested in sharing their story about coming out there are several ways they can do so:
The website where all the stories are collected and available to read:
NB: All stories are kept anonymous and permission will be required before anything final is published or used in the film.
Interview (C) Amie Taylor (@spoonsparkle) 2015