Lizzie Milton is the co-founder of theatre company Dog Faced Boy, and the writer of their debut production, The Breaks in You and I, coming to The Hope Theatre (London) this September. The play explores the break-up of two women and their experiences as their relationship ends. Here she talks about her journey as a writer, the play and queer women in theatre.
(Interview by @AmieAmieTay for @lgbtqarts)
AT: Thanks for speaking with us today Lizzie. To start could you tell us a little about you, how you became a writer and your arts background…
LM: My undergrad was in philosophy, which is a bit of a world away, but I was doing stand-up / sketch comedy during my degree and I wrote my first play during that time, I realised I liked making people cry almost as much as I liked making people laugh. So I did my MA at Goldsmiths in Writing Performance and Dramaturgy last year, and The Breaks in You and I was my dissertation piece.
AT: What inspired ‘The Breaks in You and I’?
LM: So I became quite interested in conspiracy theories and how people get to the point of having these very absurd beliefs and so the original piece was more about that, but then two weeks before the deadline, my partner of about three and a half years broke up with me, so I thought I either write about this or nothing. So I wrote it, and it became a rough version of the play that’s now on in September.
AT: So the piece is about a break-up, what themes and ideas does it explore within that framework?
LM: It starts at the point of them breaking up, and is a series of monologues from different experiences of the break-up. It explores the different reactions people have post break up, and the insanity you encounter as you try to make sense of your life when you’re looking for some sort of stability and may be reaching out quite wildly for that, as well as those bizarre opinions you have of what may or may not be happening, and the paranoia that creeps in as well.
AT: What do you hope audiences will take away from watching?
LM: I hope first and foremost they will relate to it. I hope anyone that’s been through a painful break-up can relate to some of the experiences. I hope they find it funny and I hope, on a further note, it makes them question the presence of women, and in particular queer women on stage. It’s not specifically a play about lesbian women, because it’s not really exploring the politics of being a queer woman, but rather the politics of break ups.
AT: Which is interesting, because there are a lot of issue based plays about being LGBT+, but far fewer plays that are about something else, but happen to have LGBT+ characters. There’s a real lack of queer women on stage, and when there are the work is often about homophobia or the struggles they suffer as a result of being gay, where as I think the conversation’s moving on, and it’s exciting when work represents queer women, but is about something other than simply the fact they are queer…
LM: Yes, it’s about normalising it. The default when people talk about relationships and love is to make it heterosexual love. But if we’re really going to have a more equal society, when you’re making a play around the subject of love and relationships the automatic shouldn’t be to make it heterosexual.
AT: Do you feel you’ve seen any other theatre plays that have succeeded in doing that?
LM: Not really, though I must confess that I’ve not seen a huge amount of LGBT+ theatre, especially as I try to avoid issue based stuff, so it can put me off a bit. I really enjoyed F*cking Men at the King’s Head, it’s an adaptation of Le Ronde, but instead of heterosexual couples, it’s about men who have sex with men and explores all the different kinds of relationships men have.
AT: So Dog Faced Boy is your company driving this piece, how did the company form?
LM: So I’m the co-founder, and this is our debut production as it formed around this play. I met Holly the Director and Fié the set designer and it became clear we all got on very well, and had a similar ethos and values when it came to writing and making theatre.
The Breaks in You and I is on at The Hope Theatre, London from 11th-19th September 2016.
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