Interview with Elf Lyons, comedian, theatre maker and clown

"It never seemed like an impossible or reckless career choice, because everyone around me seemed to value the arts. It’s not the same now for many young people growing up in the UK."

Interview with Elf Lyons, comedian, theatre maker and clown

Could you first introduce yourself to the reader?

My name is Elf Lyons, I am a comedian, ‘clown’ and a theatre maker.

How would you describe your show?

A comedy horror spectacle.

Why do you want to perform at Edinburgh Festival Fringe?

Because it is where I get to be my most hedonistic, free and silly – both on stage and off – and I get to see a huge array of UK and International talent from theatre, comedy and live art in one place.

What differentiates it from other festivals?

Currently it is the largest arts festival in the world and because of that it attracts such diversity of art forms and styles of comedy. It is a great place to study your craft and support other expert creatives.

What first motivated you to enter the industry? Who were your inspirations?

All the funny women and men around me who took me to the theatre and who told me about the creative work they’d done or seen. It never seemed like an impossible or reckless career choice, because everyone around me seemed to value the arts. It’s not the same now for many young people growing up in the UK.

How has your background, upbringing and education had an impact on your artistic career?

Significantly. I went to a school where Drama was a massive part of the curriculum, I had two parents who loved the creative arts and who understood its value. I had a library nearby and a librarian who loved films and would constantly order in amazing eclectic films for me to watch. Now, working as a teacher in a comprehensive school in London my job and goal by day, before I even consider donning my comedy hat, is to make sure the students get the same passion and support for Drama from me as a teacher that I received when I was their age. We live in a country where most state schools have to cut Drama from their curriculum, whilst Eton has two theatres. We need to ensure all students have the same access to the arts and the same value for them. 

What is your earliest childhood art memory?

Seeing a musical production of Jane Eyre at the Bob Hope Theatre in Eltham.

If you didn’t have your current job, what would you probably be doing?

There were no other jobs I could do. This was always what I was going to do.

Did Covid-19 change the way you create work? Do you approach shows with a different mentality now?

It changed everything and I am still working through and adapting to how Covid influenced my work now, one year later. I now sign BSL and make shows in BSL with my friend Duffy. My understanding about accessibility in the creative industries evolved significantly due to covid and how we had to adapt to new online forms of creating work.

Describe the last year in 5 words or less?

Hard. Uplifting. Chaotic. Horrifying. Sexy.

Do you subscribe to the idea that art should be exempt from ‘cancel culture’?

You just mean re sexual predators don’t you?

If you could work with anybody, from any point in history, who would you pick and why?

Lee Miller, Leanora Carrington,… all the female artists of the surrealist period. The Temple of Friendship in Paris. That would have been amazing.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to take a show up to the fringe?

Be calm. Write out the pros and cons. Trust your gut. Don’t let anyone rush you.

When and where can people see your show?

The Gilded Balloon baby! Every day!

And where can people find, follow and like you online?

Instagram @elflyons, Twitter @elf_lyons, Facebook @theelflyons and on my website www.theelflyons.com


See Elf Lyons: Raven at the Gilded Balloon during the Edinburgh Festival Fringe from 3-29 August. For more information and tickets visit www.edfringe.com or www.gildedballoon.co.uk

Author

Tom Inniss

Tom Inniss Voice Team

Tom is the Editor of Voice. He is a politics graduate and holds a masters in journalism, with particular interest in youth political engagement and technology. He is also a mentor to our Voice Contributors, and champions our festivals programme, including the reporter team at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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