BOYS: A short film to watch this winter

After The Pappy Show’s successful performance of ‘BOYS’ in 2022, the play has been reimagined into a short film. Kane, founder of The PappyShow, and Celia Willis, filmmaker, collaborated to explore the beauties of masculinity and brotherhood, merging the conventions of theatre and film. In an interview with GUAP, Kane and Celia share their process and what they wanted to tell the world about what it can look like to be a man. 

GUAP: What sparked the idea for BOYS?

Kane: BOYS came out of a theatre production and the production came out of initial research. I’ve been really interested in thinking about how men are just when they are with other men and women when they are with other women and this is something I delved into while researching. We ended up with two shows one called ‘BOYS’ and one called ‘GIRLS’. BOYS is about men of colour and about sensitivity – men don’t often go to speak to other men about how they’re feeling so I wanted to create a community of men that showed their sensitivity to each other. 

GUAP: What was the process of converting the show from theatre to film like?

Kane: It was amazing. Live performance is my thing but I’ve never made a film before, so it was just total trust in Celia saying we could do this. I would get excited when Celia would bring presentations with ideas, locations, etc because we could see the reality of the film. I often feel in the film it’s not physical it’s not brave in a physical way. With live performances, you have to fill in the gaps because you know it’s not a real fight, for example. So usually with films we don’t go to that space which is the imagination but for us to be able to find some of that in film was amazing.

GUAP: Were there any difficulties with merging your two styles together? 

Celia: For me, I have a theatre background, so I was not freaked out by the medium – I know what that animal is. Kane was also very generous with his trust for me which was amazing because he had this hugely successful show and he was just up for creating a film. So, I guess it was exciting and easy because there was a shared language. 

Kane: Yeah I felt that our values were really similar – we had similar aims in what we wanted the film to do. We didn’t want the film to be reductive where you have this boy and that boy and you get to know them as individuals because the show made you think of the men as a collective. Also, all of the prep work that Celia and I did about being on the same page meant that there was never conflict – we were speaking from the same page. 

GUAP: The representation felt very soft and tender at times. What was your aim with the representation?

Kane: I wanted to show that many identities can exist in one space – we often see one type at one time. So we might see East Asian men and Black men separately but actually, the world is more complicated than that. We’ve got all our identities co-existing in one space. We didn’t want to show just one type – we wanted to show the strong man, the tender man, the queer man, and the trans man all in one space. 

GUAP: In light of that, who would you say this short film is for?

Celia: My hope always is that it is for everyone. I would love people who don’t think it is for them to watch the film and get that beauty from the film. I also want them to feel like they’ve spent 6 minutes with this lovely group of friends and have that intimacy from this group. 

Kane: I think for me it’s boys that look like these boys. I want them to see different avenues, options, and ways of being – to know that a friendship group can be stretched into a million different shapes, and we can still all show up for each other. 

To see more, check out The Pappy Show’s and Celia’s work. Additionally, you can grab your tickets to join the Pappy Show for the celebration of their 10th anniversary, where they will be re-performing elements of BOY.

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