Saturday, July 20Royal Holloway's offical student publication, est. 1986

‘boys wear their hats backwards so they can kiss other boys’ – Representation through verbatim, poetry and dance.

This collaborative ensemble piece explores queer relationships through verbatim testimonies, poetry and dance. The atmosphere in the rehearsal room is exciting, exploratory, engaging and overall positive. The directors, Michael Greenwood, who also choreographed the piece, and Austin Seddon, who wrote the poetry and gathered the verbatim, joined in with the intense physical warm up led by Deputy Stage Manager Eden Tinsey. This involves cardio and stretching, meaning the performers will be warmed up and ready to create a performance safely.

Cast member Rebecca Emmerson-Gold says that ‘the process has been very collaborative and ensemble based, where pieces are devised together as a team. Everyone has their individual input so it really feels like we’ve created the show together.’ Talking about using the dance elements as a storytelling device, she states that ‘this whole play is exploring queer relationships in modern day society and their effect, and dance is so important as it allows the gay community to come together in clubs.’ Another crucial part of dance in general, she finds, is the experience of the physical element of movement and contact; ‘Sometimes it’s easier to show your feelings in a movement; it’s hard to vocalise how you feel and be eloquent, sometimes you just have to dance to release your feelings.’

Sam Pout, another cast member, thinks the best part of the process ‘has been working together as a team creatively with text and dance. The dance pieces each have their own meaning and are separate to each other and are a good change from the text.’ His dance training of ten years in street dance with some tap and ballet as well has meant that those elements ‘have been easy to pick up, but the best thing is how different backgrounds and levels of training have made this a very individual, as well as an ensemble experience.’   

Austin Seddon, Co-Director and Writer of the show, says that the show has changed a lot since his initial idea, and finds that it is exciting that the show has taken a direction that he didn’t anticipate. As for the poetic elements, he says that he hasn’t ‘found representation of queer relationships in media and theatre. Dance and poetry tap into the unmined feelings and relationships of queer love.’ He accepts that ‘it’s very hard to represent all elements of queer culture truthfully.’

His love for verbatim gave him a perspective on ‘everyday aesthetics and relationships which you don’t realise until you magnify it and put it on stage and are forced to watch it. It suddenly becomes this quilt of patchwork of ums and ahs and filler words. It’s nice to see people who speak like me normally on stage.’ He therefore felt it was a natural fit for authenticity and truthfulness and ethical representation that matters.

The team is trying to put a lot of big themes through a variety of genres on stage in under an hour. It does seem like an exciting challenge, and I cannot wait to see the full completed show to see all of these elements coming together to create a moving piece.      

‘boys wear their hats backwards so they can kiss other boys’ is running in the Caryl Churchill Theatre 9 and 10 November. Make sure you keep an eye out on their social media to ensure you get a ticket.

Special thanks to Oli Rushby for operating the camera and editing the video.