Jess Gibson: Creativity and why different perspectives matter – An interview with comedian and performer Tommi Bryson
Creative Content Producer, Jess Gibson, met with Tommi Bryson who is a comedian and performer. This interview sheds light on why different perspectives matter and tells us about Tommi Bryson's solo show 'A Princess Could Work'.
Photo: Tommi Bryson in A Princess Could Work credit to Heather Isobel @heatherbelphoto
Jess: Tell us a bit about yourself, Tommi…
Tommi: I am Sheffield born and bred, ½ South African and the eldest of 6 siblings. I am 19 years old and I’m passionate about theatre and music. I love theatre, and music is infinitely fascinating! Music is maths, it’s science, it’s psychology, love and soul all in one thing, it connects people and brings people together; there’s an inherent understanding of music, it does something to us and it is fascinating. I could talk about music for a long time! I am also passionate about Queer issues and Queer rights, protecting the environment and the general stuff in the world that needs sorting out really!
Jess: What does creativity mean to you?
Tommi: I feel like everybody has something they want to say and finding the right way to say it is important. Creativity can offer that. I don’t ever see creativity as a bad thing and you can access it from anywhere, like going to watch theatre, YouTube videos, print, poetry and people even tweet to share their creativity now. I think these platforms [social media etc] are thriving in this sense of sharing creativity and I believe in the goodness of these online platforms and communities. When it comes to creativity you’ve got to keep trying something until you find the thing that fits!
Jess: Tell us a bit about your work and how you got into theatre and performance…
Tommi: The first thing I did was probably in primary school as one of those compulsory performances you have to do. Then in year 9, I auditioned to be Killer Queen in the school musical of We Will Rock You and I got the role! It’s the first time I sang in front of people and I really enjoyed getting into the costume and performing. From there I took part in the Shakespeare festival with school and then decided to audition for Sheffield Theatres. I’ve done a few things with Sheffield Theatres now and they are really supportive and you make great contacts there. At the moment I am in the process of applying for funding for my own solo show that I’m looking to tour called ‘ A princess Could Work’. The show is a queered interpretation of and reaction to the Disney princess musicals of the early 90s, the ones that were cheap enough to have on video when I was growing up. It explores what a transgender princess could be like, how that story could work, and hopefully, it’s funny too.
Princess comes from years of work but I’m excited to see how it develops and changes over time. It’s on at The Cellar 10th and 11th May which I’m looking forward to!
Jess: What do you enjoy most about creativity and performance?
Tommi: I think aside from it being a platform and outlet, I think it offers the opportunity for representation. Having role models that are similar to you is important so that you can identify with them and see yourself in the world but it’s also important to have perspectives entirely different to your own that you can learn from. I’m really proud of ‘A Princess Could Work’ in that sense because it addresses so many issues, such as representation, and I’m happy with the context in which it does that and in such a short timeframe too. I really like adding humour to things because I think laughter, horror, sadness and joy are all actually very similar! With A Princess Could Work you are meant to watch it and not know whether to laugh or cry and I like work that brings forward these kinds of mixed emotions.
To go see Tommi Bryson’s ‘A Princess Could Work’ check out the links and information below:
Cellar Theatre, Backfields, Sheffield S1 4HP, UK
Last year someone made a tweet. The tweet that said, amongst many other things, that “WE NEED A DISNEY PRINCESS WHO IS TRANSGENDER”. To which the overwhelming response was “No, we don’t”. This parody musical is a desperate attempt to figure out whether a princess could work.
“[Tommi is an] ever-engaging stage presence” – The Mature Times
“Completely moving and inspiring” – SheFest
“Blisteringly well performed” – audience feedback
Please note Cellar Theatre is not wheelchair accessible.