A festival of trans, non-binary and gender queer theatre arrives at Lighthouse, Poole this November, with Milk Presents bringing their Production of Bullish to our Sherling Studio. We grabbed Lucy Skilbeck, BULLISH’s writer and director and founder of Milk Presents as they took five minutes out of rehearsals for the autumn 2018 tour.
Q: What was your inspiration for writing BULLISH?
A: As usual, I was looking to understand something that was going on that I didn’t have the words to explain, much like being lost in a labyrinth. When I came across the minotaur I couldn’t articulate what it was but something struck me about it. We met and it felt good. Two and a half years later I have a greater understanding of myself as a non-binary trans person and a character who is part one thing, part another feels like a great fit to explore this.
Q: You’ve used Greek mythology to explore trans masculine gender and identity, why?
A: Greek mythology is rich in queerness so it seemed like an obvious choice to look into myths when approaching our next show after JOAN (Joan of Arc played by drag king Lucy Jane Parkinson)
Q: I haven't really encountered the Minotaur in gender identity discussions before - is an exploration of gender identity something that's generally associated with the Minotaur?
A: No, not that I know of. For us the minotaur and it’s labyrinth help us playfully present ideas around gender dysphoria and gender transition, as well as unpicking masculinity and what it might mean to take on masculinity in its multiplicities.
Q: What was the creative process that you've followed to develop this work?
A: We always make a show at least three times! We presented a work-in-progress showing two years ago in Derby, then ripped that up and made a new show for it’s premiere last year in London. Now as we approach touring we’ve done more cutting and sticking, collaging what we had to make something new!
Q: Was there a casting process? How did the ensemble come together?
A: It was absolutely crucial that we made this show with other trans, non-binary and gender queer people. Therefore we held an open casting process so we could meet performers and formed a brilliant ensemble. I’d already worked with Lucy Jane Parkinson on JOAN and knew they would be a great fit for this, alongside a fantastic ensemble of new collaborators.
Q: What does Bullish have to say about gender identity?
A: I don’t believe that’s it’s my job to tell audiences about gender identity, it’s my job to tell a story, and that’s what BULLISH does. I want celebrate trans and gender non-conforming experiences within a myth that has been told for centuries.
Q: What do you hope that audiences feel when watching Bullish?
A: Audiences will respond very differently to our work and that makes me really happy. It’s a cliché but no two audiences are the same. That’s part of the joy of touring this work to so many different places, I look forward to discovering how different people respond to it.