Show preview: Bootycandy

LouReviews spoke to director Tristan Fynn-Aiduenu about the opening play in the Gate Theatre’s new season, Bootycandy.

“I think Bootycandy and its form is one that will really speak to other Queer Black people in the UK and the frenetic, crazy nature of our existence. Each vignette in the piece is a side of a powerful, unapologetic Black Queer imagination that we seldom see on the British stage. 

This play speaks to me as a Queer Black Man still exploring my place in the world and all stuff that has made me who I am today. I want to create a show that feels immersive, hyper-colourful, mind-bending, messy and imagination expanding – Because that is what a lot of the beautiful Black Queer minds I have met are like to me. I want to honour that.”

When: 13 Feb to 11 Mar

Ticket link:

Production headshot from Bootycandy
Lead actor Prince Kundai (c) Yellow Belly Photos

Bootycandy gets its UK premiere at the Gate’s new space in Camden. What attracted you to this particular venue? 

The Gate is known for staging intimate international work, and for pushing artists to experiment with form which made it the perfect home for a text as complex and playful as Bootycandy.

I was also excited by the possibility of being part of the first season of work in its new accessible home in Camden, and it’s huge to now be its first show.

As director, you have said the Black Queer experience rarely gets seen fully on stage. Is this starting to change? 

Some changes are definitely starting to come through. You can see this in the work of artists like Dior Clarke, Jamal Gerald, Babirye Bukilwa, and so many more artists.

Black Queer work has been generated for years. And yet only now is it finding its way more and more into more mainstream and financially supported spaces.

There is also a particular interest in the African American experience on stage, and the irony of staging an African American play myself is not beyond me. 

Bootycandy interests me because of how the play speaks to and serves the Black British experience, crossing continents to do so.

The show also explores the Black Queer experience through a variety of theatrical styles and scenes in just one play, which I think is also something new for the British stage. 

Tell me about the character of Sutter?

He is complex. We don’t see Sutter at just one age, we see him grow, change and develop, and all non-chronologically.

Across forty years, we see Sutter’s dark sense of humour, the sheer span of his imagination and all his cultural reference points.

In this production, we are exploring how Sutter is at once inside the world of the play, whilst also owning this world. 

Bootycandy plays through a series of satirical skits. Does this present any particular challenges in performance or planning? 

The show is a deliberate mish mash, and so the challenge is definitely how to handle and honour the messiness of this, whilst also making it entertaining.

The British theatre system often likes clean lines and a clear definition of genre. This play demands we blur the lines, spanning genres from horrror to satire to absurdism to natural to theatre of the oppressed.