Fresh Friday with Stuart Waters & Willie Elliott

10th February 2023

Fresh Friday with Stuart Waters & Willie Elliott
Continuing our theme of spotlighting inclusive practice, this week we are joined by Dance Artist, Stuart Waters and audio descriptive specialist, Willie Elliott to conduct our Fresh Friday workshop. The pair will give our students an introduction to audio description and how it can be used in dance, as well as the initiative of embedding access into the creative process.

Stuart’s and Willie’s current work is called A Queer Collision – it is a mash-up of private and historical queer stories that is both funny and poignant. Against a backdrop of LGBTQIA+ social history compiled by specialist queer historian Steve Slack, Stu and Willie take us on a journey through their own tales of mischief and misadventure using dance, spoken word and comedy. Uniquely, audio description has been embedded into the creative process, to create an experience that is resonant and accessible for those with and without visual impairment. A Queer Collision has been the subject of extensive research since Choreodrome 2020; is being created in 2022/23 and will premiere in May 2023.

Stuart himself is a queer, neurodiverse dance artist. He draws on his intersectional identity to create powerful, inclusive audience experiences that are underpinned by a therapeutic approach. Stuart has been a performing artist and dance maker for more than 20 years, working at the cutting edge of the devising processes with Luca Silvestrini’s Protein (in which he created central characters in LOL (lots of love) and Border Tales), Bare Bones, Motionhouse and Wired Aerial Theatre. He is also an experienced teacher and trained coach, and has recently embarked on counselling training. His autobiographical first solo as an independent, Rockbottom, approached a taboo subject (Chemsex) with honesty and integrity, leavening this difficult theme with humour and warmth, and providing a reflective tool for everyone concerned with mental well-being. Stuart has a deep, personal understanding of the complexities of intersectional experience, and his work is often described as ‘transformational’ by those whose stories are rarely seen on stage. Fuelled by lived experiences, his storytelling is relatable and accessible.

Whilst Willie trained as an actor at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama and worked in Scotland with Wildcat Cumbernauld Theatre and TAG among others. After moving to London, Willie toured with Gay Sweatshop and became an Associate artist of Theatre Centre. For ten years he was resident pantomime dame at the Everyman Theatre in Cheltenham. He turned to audio description in 2001 and, working with Graeae Theatre Company, performed the outdoor production of Rhinestone Rollers, a wheelchair line dancing show where he appeared onstage alongside the performers as the caller of the dance. The show was performed at Trafalgar Square and latterly outside the National Theatre. Other outdoor Graeae shows followed, including Against the Tide, The Garden and The Limbless Knight. In 2012 Willie described the Paralympics opening ceremony live for More 4 and, two years later, the opening ceremony for the Sochi Winter Paralympics.

Keep an eye on The Place website for tickets to see A Queer Collision this May.


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