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Interview: Lewis Doherty

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

I first saw Lewis Doherty perform at Fringe last year, his unique blend of fast-paced physical storytelling, pinpoint vocal control and the ability to contort his body into a whole cast of zany characters immediately sucked me in. To be fair, it would suck anyone in. His work is so beautifully universal that it is easy to see how he has accumulated the bountiful stars that litter his poster. This year he's taking three (yes three) shows to the Vault Festival in London, Wolf, Boar and Hawk. None are to be missed, and he's been kind enough to answer a few of our questions to whet your appetites!

1) Wolf, Boar and Hawk: How do you choose the animal titles of your shows?

When I made WOLF around two years ago I didn't have a plan to make any more shows, let alone anymore with animals for titles. I always wanted to make a show that appealed to lovers of films, comics and popular culture. Something that was really fuckin cool. WOLF sounded cool. When I came to make the second show I didn't want to do a traditional sequel and present WOLF II. That's when I decided to do the BEAST TRILOGY and explore three different genres through the work I make. I think that's more of a challenge for the audience and myself as a creative. I want the work to have a natural progression without compromising what makes them so enjoyable.

2) Your shows are so intricately detailed, as you’re performing all three at the same time do you ever worry about mixing them up?

I’m always worried about that happening. (I hope) I do enough of a good job steering them away from each other in terms of the shows varied genres, characters, and style. I also think messing up is part of it. I’ve come to accept that the show is going to be different every single time, plus the audience seems to enjoy small mishaps and I do too.

3) What made you decide to create solo work?

It's something I’ve always wanted to do. I had WOLF as an idea in my head for a very long time, probably longer than I would care to admit. I was basically forced into putting a date in my diary and having to perform something to a room full of people. I would advise anyone thinking about doing a solo show to do the same.

4) Are there any artists/companies that particularly inspired your craft?

Rahzel was a really big influence on me growing up. Back when I was really young I would listen to him all the time. I really enjoyed the filmic, Kung-Fu style he had to his beatboxing. Another inspiration was Joe Bone. I was at the Edinburgh Fringe a long long time ago (around 2009) when I saw Joe Bone’s show BANE and it blew me away. When I made WOLF there were a lot of comparisons to him, and that was a great compliment. He emailed me when I was doing BOAR at the Fringe to say well done on some reviews and that was such a solid touch from him and a great moment for me that I don't think I’ll ever forget.Pablo Francisco is someone that sticks out for me too. I didn't really get into any of his stand up shows but when I was at university someone showed me a video of him doing a bit about the guy that does the voice for movie trailers. He creates a trailer for a movie called ‘Little Tortilla Boy’ just with a microphone and it's just brilliant. I think that was a moment that started to get some cogs turning in terms of me making my own work and playing different characters and making the sound effects live.

5) As you’re the sole performer onstage in these shows, what does a rehearsal room look like for you?

It’s mostly in my head, which can be frustrating and really freeing at the same time. I made WOLF in my bedroom at home because I couldn't access space very easily.  I usually sit down and write the show as if it was a movie. I fix the problems I’ve created later when I get the show on its feet. I map a lot of stuff out on stage roughly and I play around . I have a few people who I like to show the work to. John Hoggarth is someone who’s worked on both WOLF and BOAR and is supporting me with the third show HAWK. He’s got real funny bones and genuinely wanting to support me and the process, which I think is a very rare thing to find.

6) Each of your shows have garnered masses of critical success, what’s your best advice for the up and coming theatre makers out there?

Make the show you wanna make.

Enjoy it.

Find pleasure in the stuff you might not enjoy too.

If something doesn't feel right, it probably isn't.

7) What is the best and worst thing about working as a solo artist?

Best: Being able to improvise if you mess up during a show.

Worst: Having to improvise if you mess up during a show.

8) If you weren’t a performer, what do you think you’d be doing?

Working in Topshop

9) Any show recommendations at this year's VAULT fest?

Two companies I'm aiming to see at VAULTS are Spies Like Us and Incognito Theatre Company. I've heard exciting things about both!

10) Tell us a bit about the shows you’ve got at Vault Fest this year…(PLUG YA SHOWS!)

WOLF is a neo-noir cop thriller set in shadow city

BOAR is a medieval fantasy adventure tale with dragon slaying

HAWK is an alien sci-fi horror movie and the final installment of the BEAST TRILOGY

I play all the characters, mime every prop and do 90% of the sound effects for the show. It's me and a chair. It's a slog. All the shows are funny, filmic, and physical. I guarantee you'll have a great night out!

Tickets for Lewis' shows can be found here -

Wolf -

Boar -

Hawk -

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