Meet The Artist: Tonya Bolton

Tonya Bolton is a playwright set to embark on a 10-date, nationwide tour of her self-penned, one-woman show, ‘Holy and Horny’, which explores issues of faith, sexuality and spirituality.  She spoke to Keep The Faith about the play, its impact on audiences, and how faith in God has impacted her life.

KEEP THE FAITH (KTF): You’re taking your play, ‘Holy and Horny‘, on a UK-wide tour.  What is this production about, and what issues does it touch on? 

TONYA BOLTON (TB): ‘Holy and Horny’ is a celebratory, powerful and deeply moving one-woman show that celebrates women’s spirituality and sensuality. The play explores one woman’s struggle to remain holy, despite being as horny as hell! All 20 characters are played by me, including Sheila, the frustrated Christian, and her alter ego, Eve, a sexually uninhibited poet. As well as making you laugh, ‘Holy and Horny’ brings to the stage an innovatory, head-on, no-holes-barred approach to concepts of race, gender, culture and female sexuality.

KTF: Christians don’t often delve into the subject of sex and the issues surrounding it. What inspired you to write a play on the subject?

TB: Sexuality of any type is often not discussed in many UK churches and communities. From my experiences, both as a Christian leader and as a woman, many churches have traditionally found it hard to talk about sex and relationships and, as a result, many of the single Christian men and women I speak to feel isolated, sexually frustrated, inadequate or confused.  ‘Holy and Horny’ not only adds to the discussion of singleness and celibacy, but also addresses taboo issues, such as sexual health and abuse.

KTF: What kind of reactions have you garnered from audiences whenever it has been staged?

TB: ‘Holy and Horny’ broke box office records on its première performance in 2011 and, when the show last toured in 2012, all performances were fully sold out. From the extensive audience feedback we’ve received, we know that numerous women reported their own rapes to police; received counselling; accessed support services, and began to recover from the trauma of abuse as a result of watching the play.

KTF: How does your faith inform your work?

TB: My faith in God informs everything I do.  Much of Christian history has often been devoted to domesticating the character of Jesus. But the fact is, Jesus wasn’t just a sweet Baby in a manger, He was a provocative teacher. People either loved Him or hated Him – but they never ignored Him. He wasn’t afraid to speak out against injustice or challenge the status quo. For me, being a Christian woman isn’t about being liked or being popular. It’s about addressing key issues affecting our communities, and campaigning against all injustice, inequality and oppression. It’s about recognising our God-given unlimited power to transform our communities for the better, and playing an active role in meeting these needs. Prayer alone is not enough!

KTF: What other types of productions/projects should we expect from you in the future?

TB: In 2015, I will be performing ‘Holy & Horny’ in the USA. I will be touring UK schools and detention centres with a new play, called ‘Man Up!’, aimed at teenage boys. I also have an exciting book coming out very soon, and I’m currently writing an explosive movie – so watch this space!

KTF: Describe yourself in five words.

TB: Trailblazing.  Authentic.  Creative.  Compassionate.  High-spirited.

‘Holy and Horny’ kicks off its nationwide tour on 27 September at Derby Theatre in Derby, and will visit Doncaster, Peterborough, Manchester, Catford, Hackney, Wolverhampton, Devon, Enfield and Nottingham.   Visit www.holyandhorny.com for more details.

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