Meet Wayne Stewart, a solo writer, performer, and adventurer with a background in stand-up comedy. With interests in story-telling and philosophy, he has recently embarked on a journey to learn to dance, and he’s taking us along for the ride.
After seeing Wayne’s last show, Chrome Yellow, and hearing that he had an upcoming solo show, Indigo Moon, coming out, I wondered why he’d learn to dance and why he would perform it for us. Was it in the name of showbiz or a genuine endeavour?
For this show, Wayne said he’s worked with great intensity (literal bruises, sweat, and tears) to learn how to dance. With thanks to choreographer Victoria Hermitage, people who’ve seen him rehearse have been in awe—he’s managed to pull off looking like someone who really can, dance.
As someone who just does not feel comfortable dancing, Wayne said he found it important to do so. He uses this performance as a chance to introspectively reflect on his relationship with movement and emotion. He says that the concept was truly born out of his own aversion to dance.
Throughout the show, he will intertwine characters and stories along with his own anecdotes, taking the audience on his journey to learn to dance.
The show takes Wayne right back to childhood as he uses the voices of young people to help him reconnect with that inner child. The journey becomes about so much more than dance; it is a touching meditation on the importance of storytelling, movement, and what it means to be creative.
Wayne’s background in comedy allows for a curated wittiness, a refined humour, if you will. But alongside this comes a more sombre side. He has a way of making his own stories and experiences so relatable that, at some points, he had me, as an audience member, in actual tears.
What type of work do you do?
My aim is to create humorous yet thought-provoking work that studies who we are and the world around us through my own unique lens, using movement, comedy, story-telling, and song. My work has been described as philosophical, poignant, and funny.
Have you always been in the performing arts?
My journey into theatre started at the age of 8 as a lowly workhouse boy in ‘Oliver’. A fractured relationship with the stage saw me go from a corpse in a school play to Captain Hook in Jersey Arts Centre’s YouTheatre. I wasn’t much of a team player as a youngster; I wanted to do my own thing, carve my own way, and have the stage all to myself, which inevitably led to a good few years in stand-up comedy. However, as I matured, I grew tired of that persona and shied away from the limelight. I went back to my roots in community theatre with roles such as Mr. Tumnus, Bob Ewell, and a ballet-dancing crocodile.
How did you get into comedy?
I’ve always had a fascination with the science of laughter and the buildup and release of tension. When writing, I like to pay close attention to where I’m building tension and ensure I allow an audience sufficient release. This attention to detail creates a more natural comedy as opposed to the formulaic “set-up and punch-line” comedy of stand-up.
What made you come back to the stage?
More than 10 years have passed since I left comedy behind, but I began to crave that space again. That space you can only have when the stage is all yours and only yours I wanted to make people laugh again, but not with trite observational nonsense; I wanted to genuinely connect with my audience and make them think, feel, and laugh.
Tell me about Chrome Yellow.
Throughout July and August 2021, I walked 658 miles across France. I used my memories and travel journal to examine and understand this travel experience. I took a closer look at my childhood, struggles with mental health, and unusual attraction to the colour yellow. I discovered some life-affirming truths that gave far more meaning to the journey than I had ever intended or imagined. ‘Chrome Yellow’ is a meditative quest born out of a real-life personal experience; it is a pacy blend of journal readings, travel stories, and song intended to be relatable, thought-provoking, honest, and funny.
And can you tell me a bit about what we can expect from this next show?
Without giving too much away, my next show is called Indigo Moon: Learning to Dance. Within that, Spero is on a journey to the moon, a young person ruminates, and Wayne learns to dance.
Wayne will perform INDIGO MOON at the Jersey Arts Centre on September 28 and 29, 2023.