5 minutes with: Liam Williams – 'Festivals are great safe spaces'

The comedian on his new play, his ”Twelfth Night With Comedians” and why festivals are so good

Latitude Festival
Latitude Festival
© Victor Frankowski

Travesty is my first foray into theatre. I’ve been in plays and I’ve written dramatic scripts but they were mainly for radio. I guess I partly wanted to try a different form because I’ve done stand up for three years in a row and I like writing for other voices and writing characters. But I’m not moving away from comedy. I feel like that genre boundary line doesn’t exist anyway. I don’t think that there’s a thing called comedy and then there’s a thing called drama.

The play is about gender roles in modern relationships. It’s about a couple in their 20s who get into a relationship and we see the relationship from the beginning to what might be the end. It’s more dramatic and naturalistic than my previous comedy writing. It looks at people who don’t conform to the same gender roles as their parents did and perhaps have less prescribed ideas of what gender is. It’s funny. Or hopefully it is. We did a reading and got some laughs, so that pleased me.

Festivals are great safe spaces. Audiences expect to be entertained but they are open-minded about what sort of work that they are going to see and they are patient. Latitude will be great, it’s good to get out of London and leave the fringe theatre black box environment. Having that in the calendar in the run up to Edinburgh gives you something to focus on.

There’s loads of good stuff on at Latitude this year. I prefer the lower echelons of the bill and the comedians who are on the cabaret stage. I haven’t properly looked at the line-up yet, but I’m looking forward to Mark Thomas.

I have a tradition of watching the Kenneth Branagh production of Twelfth Night on the actual twelfth night. It tends to be the point where you have to go back to reality after Christmas. It’s often a bit of a melancholic, cold, dark time. I mentioned to a couple of people we should do a production of it and raise some money for charity so a bunch of comedians and I did it. We’re doing it again at Latitude. Our version doesn’t have all the language of the lords and ladies or servants in it. It’s more a group of friends hanging out together on New Year's Eve.

Travesty and Twelfth Night With Comedians both run at Latitude Festival from 14 to 17 July. Twelfth Night With Comedians also runs at The Spiegeltent, London Wonderground, Southbank Centre on 18 July.

Travesty will be previewing in London in July before going to the Edinburgh fringe.