QX Interviews Rikki Beadle-Blair ahead of King’s Head Theatre’s New Writing Festival, part of A Queer Interrogation season!
Rikki Beadle-Blair is an award-winning theatre-maker and creative of British/West Indian origin, passionate about directing new writing and producing plays and writing music.
He has worked on a variety of projects related to LGBTQ+ issues, including Bashment, a play about homophobia in the ragga/hip-hop music scene; Roots of Homophobia, documentary about homophobic attitudes in Jamaican pop music, and Free, a play for young people about tackling homophobic bullying in schools.
Rikki is involved in KHT’s upcoming queer season, and we had the chance to sit down with him to talk about his involvement, as well as his thoughts on the development of queer identities in theatre.
Can you tell us about how you got to be involved with Tom Ratcliffe for his season, A Queer Interrogation?
I’ve had the great fortune to have directed Tom Ratcliffe’s fantastic Play Wreckage. He is an incredible force on so many different levels his very first play, Circa was written while he was graduating from drama school, and, despite the heavy workload, he turned out an extraordinary piece of work, and I was again blessed to be a help to him as a dramaturg throughout that period. It’s always been obvious that he was just destined for big things. I’m just flying on his coattails really!
Theatre can play a big part in promoting acceptance of queer identities, how important do you think it is to have a dedicated theatre season for queer work, and what impact/social change do you think it can have?
It’s such a fantastic thing to have a season like this. When I first started out as writer director in the seventies, it seemed like I was the only one in my demographic who was passionate about making queer work. Of course that wasn’t true and if I’d had the opportunity to connect with other creatives and see so much queer work in one place at one time, who knows how much better I would be today? And who knows who else would’ve emerged?
How do you think the representation of queer voices has evolved over the years?
The struggle is intense to this day, but now when aspiring actors, writers, directors write to me, they literally describe themselves as queer creatives in a proud, almost in your face way. Who ever thought that could happen? And the range of queer voices has shifted from only the, white upper and middle classes, to a huge rainbow of voices, (yes I claim the rainbow image without fear of cheese!) that still includes those initial voices heard alongside so many more. It’s an incredible time.
How do you approach directing new work, and what do you look for in emerging writers?
I’m interested in work that is originality and individual, looking at persistence and commitment to a work ethic.
What advice would you give to young queer artists who are just starting out in the theatre industry?
Don’t wait to be chosen. Choose yourself. Ask for nothing, offer everything!
What do you think is the best way to support and uplift emerging queer voices?
Long term commitment to the cause. Go out and see as much as you can. Encourage encourage encourage.
Can you share your thoughts on the importance of intersectionality in queer representation in theatre?
You cannot discuss sexuality through art without showing how it connects to class, race, gender, etc. The system of oppression connects them all – generally to turn us against each other. We all need to look at how we connect. That includes people who are considered ‘privileged’. We need to use art and entertainment to see, hear and acknowledge one another to create unity.
And lastly, outside of KHT, what’s a recent project you’ve seen that you’d recommend?
The incredible movie Close. It’s about two boys who are incredibly affectionate with one another until they hit puberty and everyone starts to question them. It’s stunning.
Make sure to check out A Queer Interrogation Season, with tickets starting at only £10 & a huge variety of shows going from drama, to drag to live music, there is something for everyone!
A Queer Interrogation season ticket offer:
- Book x2 shows, get 10% off.
- Book x3 or more shows, get 20% off.
King’s Head Theatre’s New Writing Festival
- The Dusk Before by Ariella Como Stoian (8 May)
- Blue Beard III by Gemskii (8 May)
- Yemi & Femi Go Windrush by John R. Gordon (9 May)
- Alex, The Great by Chris Panayi, John R. Gordon & Rikki Beadle-Blair (9 May)
- Bi-Topia (10 May)
- Cowboy by Matt Gurr (10 May)
- Diptych by Alyx Nazir & NBV (11 May)
- Gangsta Baby by Cameron Raasdal-Munro (11 May)
- Gays Having Babies by Lars Gellein (12 May)
- Queers by Guido Lippe (12 May)
- Face Down in the Dirt by Lauren Carter (13 May)
- Out of Control by Guido Lippe (13 May)
- The Birthday, Engagement, Funeral Party by JD Stewart (13 May)
- I am Not Who I Say I am by Luwa Adebanjo (14 May)
- Incitement to Riot by Ben Kavanagh (14 May)