Tristan B Willis

Tristan B Willis

Tristan B Willis is a DC-based playwright and game creator interested in trans and queer work and the intersection of theatre and games - including making meaningful, interactive experiences for audiences. As a former resident of the Orchard Project’s Liveness Lab and CultureHub’s Writing for Electronic Formats, Tristan discussed and cultivated new ways of presenting theatrical work in digital and distanced...
Tristan B Willis is a DC-based playwright and game creator interested in trans and queer work and the intersection of theatre and games - including making meaningful, interactive experiences for audiences. As a former resident of the Orchard Project’s Liveness Lab and CultureHub’s Writing for Electronic Formats, Tristan discussed and cultivated new ways of presenting theatrical work in digital and distanced spaces. In 2023, Tristan wrote, performed, and streamed “in a way that matters,” developed as part of The Kennedy Center’s Local Theatre Residency at the REACH with further support from Caridad Svich, Lucille Lortel Theatre.

Tristan coordinated the Theatre Washington Mentoring Program for six years and now works with Young Playwrights’ Theater. You can learn more about Tristan and their work at tristanbwillis.com.

Tristan's work for 2024 is funded in part by the D.C. Commission on the Arts and Humanities through the Arts and Humanities Fellowship Program.

Plays

  • What's Inherited
    A teacher in Texas has a vision of a tornado ripping through her small hometown moments before it happens. Her childhood friend, who has since transitioned, returns after a long time away to help his dad move out of their destroyed home. After reconnecting, the teacher and her friend look into the questions raised by her vision.

    What’s Inherited reckons with the complicated relationship many...
    A teacher in Texas has a vision of a tornado ripping through her small hometown moments before it happens. Her childhood friend, who has since transitioned, returns after a long time away to help his dad move out of their destroyed home. After reconnecting, the teacher and her friend look into the questions raised by her vision.

    What’s Inherited reckons with the complicated relationship many people have with their hometowns by digging into the ways where and who we’re from can hurt us, and how that hurt can linger and transform.

    (Under development, sample of first act available.)
  • Ventured/Gained
    An adaptation of "She ventures and he wins" for us queer and trans romantics who want something frivolous for a change. Charlotte's trying to find a lover with thick shoulders and a thick PERSONALITY. Urania and Frances love each other but want to be horny for life again. And something's been awakening in Jules ever since putting on that suit.

    (in progress and in search of development opportunities)
  • The Great Impresario Boris Lermontov Would Like to Invite You To Dinner
    Two actors meet onstage and flip a coin to decide who plays which character in this performance. One takes on the role of Boris Lermontov, the boisterous and boastful impresario of a popular ballet company, while the other plays his employee Noa, an unappreciated dancer who’s been tasked with serving dinner to Lermontov and his guest (that’s you, the audience).

    The façade of the dinner party...
    Two actors meet onstage and flip a coin to decide who plays which character in this performance. One takes on the role of Boris Lermontov, the boisterous and boastful impresario of a popular ballet company, while the other plays his employee Noa, an unappreciated dancer who’s been tasked with serving dinner to Lermontov and his guest (that’s you, the audience).

    The façade of the dinner party quickly starts to crumble as tensions rise between impresario and dancer, revealing the faulty hierarchical structures inherent to such working relationships. As the actor playing Lermontov tries to show the effects of such power imbalances can be solved with the Right Person in the role of impresario, they fall further and further into a trap they’ve created for themself.
  • in a way that matters
    "Hi, I'm Tristan Willis and one day I will die."

    A multimedia performance about who we are, who we were, and what happens when we’re gone. "in a way that matters" dives into Tristan's relationship with death acceptance and the body through personal stories and, yes, a Hamlet monologue.

    by
    Tristan B Willis (Collaborator, Writer, Performer)...
    "Hi, I'm Tristan Willis and one day I will die."

    A multimedia performance about who we are, who we were, and what happens when we’re gone. "in a way that matters" dives into Tristan's relationship with death acceptance and the body through personal stories and, yes, a Hamlet monologue.

    by
    Tristan B Willis (Collaborator, Writer, Performer)
    with
    Joan Cummins (Collaborator, Dramaturg)
    navi (Collaborator, Production Designer)

    Content warnings: discussion of death/death acceptance, brief mentions of chronic illness, animal death (direct mention, no details), mushrooms

    "in a way that matters" was developed as part of The Kennedy Center’s Local Theatre Residency program at the REACH with continued development with the support of the Lucille Lortel Theatre, Caridad Svich, Artistic Director of New Play Development.
  • This Vessel Is A Fragile Thing
    Over three nights and three dreams a nonbinary person explores their relationship with their body, their family, and their desire to escape from the internal and external conflicts surrounding them.

    The first night they dream of turning into a tornado and destroying their hometown.
    The second night they dream of fighting in a war with their grandfather.
    The third night they dream...
    Over three nights and three dreams a nonbinary person explores their relationship with their body, their family, and their desire to escape from the internal and external conflicts surrounding them.

    The first night they dream of turning into a tornado and destroying their hometown.
    The second night they dream of fighting in a war with their grandfather.
    The third night they dream of a future where they can transition into any form they choose.
    As the third dream progresses, it shifts, trying to please and keep them in the dream, away from the real world problems they so desperately want to avoid.
  • Use All Available Doors
    Use All Available Doors follows a soon-to-be-decommissioned WMATA train car, a grieving operator re-evaluating her life’s path, and a revolving door of passengers as they travel the length of the Red Line from Shady Grove to Glenmont. A vignette occurs between each stop, highlighting the varied nature of the Red Line’s path, including a parade, a sing-a-long, and unsolicited foot washing (that one's a true story).
  • Son of Apollo
    Phaethon desperately wants to prove he is not only Apollo's child, but Apollo's son. His mother Clymene fears Phaethon enlists harmful affectations to prove his identity to others.

    A ten-minute play exploring a conflicting desire for and fear of "masculinity."
  • paper backs
    A scholar and artist navigate their passion for their art and each other while stuck in a relationship that continuously cycles back to the beginning.
  • 23 Opinions No One Wanted
    for 3+ nonbinary femmes and/or women

    A performance piece inspired in part by articles like HuffPost’s “23 Trends Men Hate (But Women Love)” and interactions between femme & women artists and cis men. 23 Opinions is bite-sized theatre, written so performers can present it quickly without much rehearsal at any available venue, from street corners to parties with boys who brought guitars. The...
    for 3+ nonbinary femmes and/or women

    A performance piece inspired in part by articles like HuffPost’s “23 Trends Men Hate (But Women Love)” and interactions between femme & women artists and cis men. 23 Opinions is bite-sized theatre, written so performers can present it quickly without much rehearsal at any available venue, from street corners to parties with boys who brought guitars. The lines are not delineated so each group of performers can choose the lines that best fit.
  • Thea & Lily
    A ten-minute play with a punch. Thea & Lily are stranded at a gas station in the middle of nowhere, but that's alright... Lily has a plan.