‘This play is just as important now as it was three years ago’ Elliot Hadley - from actor to associate director
We caught up with Elliot Hadley, associate director for 5 Guys Chillin’, to hear about his journey with the piece, having seen the production through it’s very first rehearsal as a member of the cast, up until now.
I've been part of 5 Guys Chillin’ since it's very first inception back in May 2014. If you've seen the play, you can imagine I was simultaneously shocked, intrigued, repelled and overwhelmed by this highly secret world I knew very little about. It was clear from the outset that this was a topic that needed discussing, that these brave stories deserved to be told and that theatre would be a fantastic way to tell it.
However, it's unusual to see verbatim theatre that isn't 5 men, sat on chairs, talking directly to the audience. What Peter has beautifully done with his play is to weave these stories into a narrative and create a real world with 5 men longing for an intimate connection. Needless to say, I was on-board instantly.
We've had the opportunity to travel all over the world with 5 Guys Chillin’. It premiered in Brighton and soon transferred to The Kings Head Theatre which has become its home. From there we went on to Dublin, Edinburgh, New York and it even ran in Sydney. Each different venue brought differing opinions and reactions. The American audiences were the most dramatic. Their theatre styles are stereotypically more conservative and I don't think they were quite prepared when we brought the play to New York. Some audiences were still staring, open mouthed, 10 minutes after the performance had ended and had to be asked to leave the auditorium by the staff.
Many times, after performances, we've had (sometimes quite animated) post-show discussions; the audience left desperate to debate what they had just seen. The play informs and invites discussion, and in some cases, it's even helped in recovery, as an audience member was kind enough to let us know. It's clear that people were listening, becoming aware and it allowed them to make decisions from an informed place.
I was thrilled when I was asked to work on the latest run as Associate Director. This play has been a huge part of my life for a while and it's always been extremely rewarding but to direct would be a completely different challenge. The play has now become an integral piece of LGBT theatre history and it was vastly important that the issues needed to remain clear. However, it was a huge amount of fun to put my own mark on it and work in a new way with a completely different cast.
The new guys have been fantastically playful, honest and brave all the way through the process and I've had the privilege to work with such talented actors and creatives.
I believe that this play is just as important now as it was three years ago. More and more gay men are falling into addiction, Chemsex related crimes are in the news and it is fast becoming one of the most important health crises of the 21st Century.
If you still haven't booked a ticket for the final performances at The Kings Head Theatre, there's time to catch it before Saturday. The play has also been published by Oberon Books and is available on the door.
BOOK NOW and use discount code journey for £10 tickets