Courtesy of JMA Photography.

Courtesy of JMA Photography.

Belief systems whether explicit or implicit are a part of our daily lives, religion and spirituality for many sources of security. We all connect with readings, quotes, scriptures, imagery, artefacts and ritual differently – it is inevitably up to us to determine how best to navigate our own lives. The crux of his work Idol, writer and performer Jamal Gerald asks a very important question – as a ‘Black, queer and Catholic in a Caribbean household, which higher order do you bow down to: Queen Bey or white Jesus?’ The answer? The former! Described as the ‘patron saint of empowerment’, Jamal has more of a connection with the superstar. Ahead of the show, Jamal talks to us about debuting the show last year at Transform Festival ’19, what audiences can expect from the show and offers advice to aspiring writers and performers!

Hi Jamal, your show Idol will embark on a tour, starting off at the Yard Theatre from the 11th February until 23rd May. How are you feeling ahead of the show?

I’m extremely nervous. I just hope I get through all of the dates because it is a really demanding show.

Idol is an ‘examination of Black representation in religion and pop culture with a healthy dose of Beyoncé‘. What inspired you to explore these topics further?

I’m passionate about pop culture, Black representation and Beyoncé. So, why not make a show where I’m exploring all these great topics? The research for this project was so much fun.

Idol was first performed in Leeds as a part of Transform 19. What were responses towards the show and was the plan to tour the show afterwards?

It was mostly positive. I did receive a really negative review by an old white man. But I’m quite glad that I did. I hate the thought of making something that everyone enjoys. I do get joy out of being provocative.

A year on from first performing, have you adapted Idol at all since?

Yes, I have made some slight edits. I like my work to be timely.

Idol also sees you collaborating with Dramaturge Maddy Costa, Movement Director Akeim Toussaint Buck, Ritual Consultant Christella Litras and Outside Eye Rachael Young amongst other creatives. How have you all collaborated to realise the show? 

I would just tell my team what I want to do. I’d share what I want the experience of the show to be. And what I want my Black audiences to take away. I believe we all just kept those things in mind when developing the work.

Have you learned anything new from the creative process?

Being a leader is very difficult.

What can audiences expect from the show?

Storytelling, movement, African diasporic rituals and live music played by Pariss Elektra and Azizi Cole.

What would you like for audiences to take away?

The importance of Black representation. I want them to know the positives of when they see it. But also for them to know the negatives when they don’t see it.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers and performers?

Don’t wait for someone to tell you that you’re great. You should confidence within yourself first and foremost.

Questions by Lucy Basaba.

Idol is currently showing until Saturday 15th February at the Yard Theatre as part of Now 20. To find out more about the production, visit here…

Idol will tour until Saturday 23rd May, to find out more, visit here…

Written by Theatrefullstop