Class and queerness: BULLYACHE on latest work ‘TOM’

TOM is a work that blends the myth of Orpheus with the Department for Work and Pensions. It’s a pop-culture collision of working class and queer expression. A conflicting space of tradition & lived experience, personal & pop. A pageant is about to begin, there is no call time…perpetual purgatory.

BULLYACHE is a live music & dance company whose work traverses pop-culture, classical text & opera; think Pina Bausch cosplaying as Dua Lipa and performing albums as theatre works, theatre through the lens of a pop music video.

Alongside co-directors Courtney Deyn & Jacob Samuel, TOM will be performed from 9-13 May with Belén Leroux, James Olivo, Yen-Ching Lin, Lewis Walker & Ed Mitchell as part of Now 23 at The Yard Theatre.

Bullyache co-directors Courtney & Jacob share:

“During the pandemic Courtney was in a residency, locked in a hotel room for 16 days losing their mind & Jacob was sending them beats to sing on. That was the beginning. We both went to therapy and got sober. BULLYACHE was an act of us coming together to create something beautiful that embraced a journey of healing, sustainability and a place that would act as a company to allow marginalised voices to find similar peace. BULLYACHE is almost a third person now. It’s us giving our best to something”

Image by Andrea Fiumana.

TOM is our attempt to distil, to communicate perspectives & lived experiences we have around class. Life is exhausting. Surviving is exhausting. This work is about trying to make some sense of that labour”

“Often these feelings about the world are so abstract & complicated to render straightforwardly in words. Our process – making music, working with collaborators (dancers, designers) & sharing with audiences – all of these are ways in. Ways for us to create space for communal experience; especially for people who can feel so othered by so much of culture”

“Our cast inspires us so much & their identities, the physical contrasts they carry all feed into the work we make. We are interested in the diversity of people and character – creating a safe and dynamic space for the performers. We work with world champion gymnasts and voguers, classical musicians and Kakatk dancers. It’s this process of layering, oscillation & contrast which excites us so much and helps to build our shared physical language”

To book to see TOM visit: Header image by Harry Clark Photography.