Black Theatre Live


Interview with Big Foot writer Joseph Barnes-Philips

We had a chat with writer and performer Joseph Barnes-Phillips about the ideas behind his new touring show Big Foot.

When did you decide that you wanted the theatre to be your career?

When I was younger I wanted to be a vet, a cook or a Blue Peter presenter, but when I was about 15 my mum got sick and doing drama every week helped give me an outlet. It wasn't until I was in Sixth Form did I decide I wanted to be an actor.

What made you decide to create Big Foot?

I've experienced many of the themes and issues first hand, so I wanted to give a voice to anyone that has been under tremendous pressure and had to make life changing decisions, when actually you don't want to grow up.

What’s been the most fun, and what’s been the hardest bit about making the show, Big Foot?

The most fun has been exploring more of my Guyanese heritage to help inform the character of Moon Gazer and also to see what else it would add to the play through stories, music and food. The hardest thing has been searching through memories I thought I’d dealt with and the ones I’d buried.

Black Theatre Live’s aim is to increase the diversity on and off stage within touring theatre. What do you think some of the barriers for BAME actors and creatives are, and how could they be overcome?

One of my biggest issues being a BAME actor is with that very description. It highlights how we are perceived and how we are represented across the arts in Britain. I'm glad that Black Theatre Live understands this and is willing to learn and take risks.

How would you describe what HighRise Theatre does to someone who doesn’t know your work?

HighRise is a theatre company that makes social and political work, using Hip hop, grime and anecdotal stories to bridge communities.

What do you want people to take away from seeing Big Foot?

I just want the audience connect with it, and maybe use it as an opportunity to explore how they feel about some of the things happening in their lives.

You’ve got three words to sum up the show. Which ones do you choose?

Colourful. Heartfelt. Energetic

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