Interview: Tom Ross-Williams

Tom is currently in rehearsals for Stephen Laughton’s play RUN; a coming of age tale about a teenage boy’s first love. It comes to the Bunker next month as part of it’s tour, following a huge success at Vault Fest in 2016. Last week I caught up with Tom to find out a bit more about RUN as well as some of the other projects he’s been working on. Interview by @AmieAmieTay.

AT: Tell us a bit about you and what you’re up to at the moment…

TRW: I’m currently in rehearsals for RUN, which is a one person show, written by Stephen Laughton, that’s coming up at JW3 as part of their LGBT Festival, in Brighton at The Marlborough and in London at The Bunker. And alongside that I’m about to head off to Stockholm with Great Men doing the European Convention on how to tackle sexual violence and harassment with teenagers at school, but we’re looking at it from the boy side of things. We’re meeting up with a similar organisation in Sweden and one that works in Belgium, and we’re going to be skill sharing as well as looking at what we can do in and out of school to tackle this at the root. Then after RUN I’ll be developing a piece called Give Me Your Skin which is going to be premiering at Battersea Arts Centre in June, and also Tom Thumb Theatre, Margate and Marlborough Theatre, Brighton.

AT: Do you find that there’s a lot of cross-over between all of these different things that you’re doing?

TRW: Yes, I try to do socially engaged work as an actor.  Certainly the work I’m doing with Give me Your Skin is rooted directly in the work I do in the community, and that certainly informs a lot of the work Oonagh and I make.  With Give Me Your Skin we actually have a young person that we met as part of a workshop now performing the show with us, which creates that symbiosis between community engagement and theatre practice. Even with shows like RUN I’m really interested in it for its politics and its message. I think there’s something quietly radical about it because rather than it being a gay love story that imbued in struggle and difficulty, it’s a really beautiful story about two gay teenagers that fall in love, and their religion not being something that keeps them apart, instead it sort of brings them together.

AT: And for anyone that knows absolutely nothing about RUN, could you sum up a bit of what it’s about…

TRW: It’s about Yonni who’s a 17 year old gay, Jewish boy who falls in love for the first time and it’s about that journey that you go on as a teenager when you fall in love for the first time, it takes you to unexpected places and you’re not sure what’s real and what’s not. You meet Yonni two years after they met.  But I don’t want to give too much away.

AT: Why do you feel this piece is an important piece for 2017?

TRW: It’s a piece that transcends boundaries.  Cultural boundaries, that people might associate with conservatism or traditionalism.  There’s something really powerful about a show which both embraces that tradition and culture, but also shows that it can be progressive. In 2017 it feels like we have such a fight between traditional conservatism and liberal ideologies, and the show demonstrates that both of these can exist in the same place, and there’s space for it not to be black and white. Also, it’s a really beautiful story of hopefulness, and I think that’s important at the moment.

AT: So you’re in rehearsals at the moment, has it changed much since it was performed at Vault Festival last year?

TRW: Yes it’s changed quite a lot.  We have a new director Lucy Ray on this reworking.  It’s changed a bit, as it’s now published, it’s become a bit tighter.  I think we’re building a lot on the work we did last year, we have a new design team who are making it right for the bunker.

AT: So you’re doing a tour of RUN now.  What’s next for you after?

TRW:  I’m trying to work on a new piece which is about caring and unconventional parenting and transplants. I’m not quite sure how they all fit together, but in my mind it’ll be a part dance piece, exploring unconventional parents such as queer parents, or parents with disabilities or older parents and partly a narrative story about my experience of being a carer.

You can catch RUN at the following venues this Spring.  Thanks so much Tom!

8th March 2017 at JW3 (London)
12th – 15th March at The Marlborough (Brighton)
20th March – 1st April at The Bunker (London)


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