An Interview with La JohnJoseph, Writer and Performer of Boy In a Dress

Spiritual posession, Maria Callas-reanimated and dusty French novels were just some of things we covered in our interview with La JohnJoseph.


Describe yourself.
The long lost daughter of Tilda Swinton and Edith Sitwell, now at an affordable price.

What moment in your life prepared you for making this show? 
My life is the material on which this show is based, so I guess every moment prepared me for it. Well, the interesting moments at least – I didn’t mine those moments waiting in the post office or include my GCSE revision period.

Autobiography underlies much of your work, but there must be moments when you feel yourself eclipsed by the spectacle of La JohnJoseph?
Oh yes, La JohnJoseph is like my evil twin. I’m a terribly shy person and am usually just to be found reading some nusty old French novel, until she posesses me and drags me onto the stage against my will. It’s very Jekyll and Hyde.

While creating the show were there any moments in the process which surprised you?
This was a totally new process for me, making a show with a team and a budget absolutely raised my game and gave me huge new possibilities for how to realize a show. It was also offered enormous challenges, trying to live up the expectations and projections of everyone involved, as well as the audience of course.

Why do you make your shows?
I don’t know what else I would do, it’s almost like a compulsion. I have always felt entirely lost in the world, always searching for my place, for people with whom I belong. This work is a way to excavate my existence and simultaneously to say, “I was here.“

Describe your perfect audience member.
An overdressed, well-read, mid-forties, very vocal and emotional. Maria Callas basically, only she’s dead. So, a reanimated Maria Callas, accompanied by some power agent from CAA who can get me a nice shampoo commercial and a spot on Oprah.

How have you been preparing for your tour of Boy In a Dress?
Intensely actually, I have been swimming, doing yoga and pilates five times a week ahead of the rehearsal period. Vaginal Davies said, “Oh you’re just like Madonna now – doing yoga and pilates with a room full of hotties!“

You’ve performed in an impressive list of places from New York’s MoMA to The Royal Opera House. What’s the strangest venue you’ve ever performed in?
Oh Lord, too many to mention! A basement in Athens into which stray dogs would make their way – that was odd. And this summer in Edinburgh we ran for a month in a stand-up comedy venue, where against all odds we were actually a considerable hit.

What do you hope to find here in Bristol?
Gluten free pizza and some nice medieval churches to explore.

Boy In a Dress runs at Bristol Old Vic from 28 Feb-2 Mar. Find out more here.


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