LGBTQ Theatre

Still Unsettling: The Continuing Power of Larry Kramer’s “The Normal Heart”

Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart is a play fueled by anger. Anger at the political, medical and media establishment of the day for its reluctance to accept the reality of a mounting AIDS epidemic. Back in 1985, Kramer made enemies on all sides with a play that is an only slightly fictionalized account of his real-life efforts in New York City to awaken the prevailing culture — including a gay, closeted mayor —  to the reality of the frightening plague enveloping it. And because it takes no prisoners in its indictment, it remains perhaps the most unsettling play to...

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I Wanted To Remove The Language Of Gender: Hindi Adaptation of Lorca’s “Yerma”

Mahesh Dattani explores the symbolism, futurism and surreal influences of Spanish dramatist Federico García Lorca by directing a Hindi adaption of Yerma. The Drama School Mumbai’s annual production, which showcases their current batch of 14 students, is a take on Federico García Lorca’s Yerma, rechristened Maati in this Hindi adaptation by Neha Sharma, directed by noted playwright Mahesh Dattani. In conversation with The Hindu, Dattani talks about the queer themes that he has explored in the play. Why did you select Yerma? Jehan (Maneckshaw) had suggested we do a classic this time. He was keen to do Karnad’s Taledanda, but I was really struck by Yerma. I had caught...

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Look How Far We’ve Come: Dan Gillespie Sells On LGBT History Month UK

February was the LGBT History Month UK. It’s 30 Years since the passing of Section 28, the legislation that made it illegal to “promote homosexuality” or “promote ‘teaching the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship'”. That was MY family they were talking about! I’m what you could call the second generation gay. My lesbian mothers raised me in the 1980’s and 90’s in London at the beating heart of the lesbian and gay rights movement. The results of the fight my mothers and the LGBT community made are that today I’m able to marry, have children and...

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Queer Collective–Reflections Of The World

A blog by Rach Skyer for UK Theatre to mark LGBT History Month. Producer and Actor Rach Skyer is a member of the Arcola’s Queer Collective, a performance collective exploring queer identity and how to present it theatrically. The group is open to anyone identifying as LGBTQI* in East London. The theatre is about truth. The stories we tell are reflections of the world–or at least the world as we understand it. With that in mind, theatre-makers must interrogate the industry to question who benefits from the stories, which voices are missing and how we can disrupt the current state of affairs. In approaching queer...

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The Focus Is On The Power Of Those On The Margins: 33 Performances, Representing 14 Countries

The 10th edition of ITFoK touches upon diverse themes such as gender, identity, displacement, and sexuality among other subjects. Those living on the margins are not always powerless. Neither are their lives empty. They often come up with powerful statements of their existence and their voices are strong and sharp. And they find expressions through all forms of creative expression, especially theatre. The 10th International Theatre Festival of Kerala (ITFoK), organized by the Kerala Sangeetha Nataka Akademi (KSNA), brought to the theatre audience of Kerala a fine cross-section of the voices from the margins that seek their expression through the...

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“As One” – A New Biographical Opera About Transgender Experience Premiers in Boston

Saturday night at Longy School of Music’s Pickman Hall, As One had its Boston Premiere in the skilled hands of Boston Opera Collaborative.  As One, an insightful, 80-minute journey based on the life of a real transgender woman, will likely continue being produced by similar companies not only because of its topical nature, but because it requires minimal production values; only two singers, a string quartet, and projections. The audience never knows Hannah’s childhood name.  The characters are simply “Hannah Before” and “Hannah After.”  Instead of a split show, with the baritone singing the first half and the mezzo soprano...

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“Millions Of Seconds” by Diego Casado Rubio: On Being Transgender in Argentina

The desired body vis a vis tradition, and institutional normative sedimentation.  Millions Of Seconds, written and directed by Diego Casado Rubio, and with the excellent performances of María Rosa Frega (Clarisa, the Mother), Raquel Ameri (Alan) and Víctor Labra (Samson, the dog), was performed at the Teatro el Extranjero de Buenos Aires, during 2017 (38 performances) and will continue in 2018. The play was awarded in the areas of direction, playwriting and spatial design-stage (Casado Rubio), acting (Ameri and Frega), lighting (Verónica Alcoba), costumes (Vessna Bebek), and photography (Juan Borraspardo). Awards for Best Director, Best Actress (Ameri) and Best Photographer. Ameri also won the Audience Award and the Prize for Best Leading...

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The Pointed Irreverence Of Konstantin Bogomolov’s “An Ideal Husband: Comedy”

June 12 is Russia Day, a day of patriotic celebration that is the rough equivalent of America’s Fourth of July. While much of the capital was given over to flag-waving and fireworks, the Moscow Art Theatre was performing Konstantin Bogomolov’s production of An Ideal Husband: Comedy–less a staging of the Wilde classic than a manic hallucination about contemporary Moscow—to an enthusiastic, standing-room-only crowd, a counterpoint to the official festivities. While Bogomolov, one of Moscow’s enfants-terribles, retains hardly any of Wilde’s text (a favorite complaint of critics), his production offers a searing exploration of the intersections of power, sexuality, and...

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Subjects For Some Short Stories: Acting Character In Postdramatic Chekhov

Twenty years after the Wooster Group’s seminal Three Sisters-inspired Brace Up!, contemporary New York theatre ensembles Half Straddle and New Saloon put their own postmodern bent on Chekhov’s canonical plays in their respective works Seagull (Thinking Of You) (2013) and Minor Character (2017). These productions, like the Wooster Group’s, use Chekhov as their origin point but differ in dramatic form and performance style. They exist in the same ecosystem of downtown or “experimental” New York and were each developed and performed by a theatre company of at least three collaborators who have worked together extensively before their Chekhov explorations....

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A Mountain of One’s Own: “Taking the High Ground” by Jan Bolwell

Since Sir Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay became the first to climb Mount Everest in May 1953, New Zealanders have bathed in the reflected glory of their famous mountaineers. The five dollar banknote depicts the craggy, taciturn Hillary contemplating a snowy peak, an iconic New Zealand image that equates rugged independence with masculinity. Jan Bolwell’s new play Taking the High Ground, premiered at BATS Theatre, Wellington on 5 December 2017, re-genders the national mountaineering mythology in feminist terms.  Her script conflates the stories of two female mountaineering “firsts” – In 1910, Australian Freda du Faur was the first woman...

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Why Do We Hate?: Censoring the Minority 2017

Namsan Arts Center’s 2017 season opened with Censoring the Minority 2017 (written and directed by Lee Yeon-joo), a revival of a production that was originally part of the Project for Right 2016 festival. Many wondered if the piece would be relevant outside of the Project for Right initiative, as the context changes depending on whether it is staged among a series of productions about censorship or presented on its own. As I did not see the premiere, I am unable to compare the quality of the two versions. Yet I saw no problem in staging Censoring the Minority separately....

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A Living Mockery: The Ridiculous Theatrical Company At Fifty

In 1967, not one but two productions of Charles Ludlam’s deliciously demented Conquest Of The Universe Or When Queens Collide mounted by rival queer, avant-garde theater companies opened downtown in New York. What a time to be alive. The single, originally planned production was to have been a collaboration between then-twenty-four-year-old Ludlam and director John Vaccaro, but the two quarreled, resulting in a schism. Henceforth Vaccaro’s Play-House of the Ridiculous and Ludlam’s Ridiculous Theatrical Company would operate independently, the former more closely aligned with the personalities and glam-sleaze aesthetic favored by Andy Warhol’s Factory crowd. Their production at the...

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Family, Latinidad, and Queerness Coalesce In Marga Gomez’s “Latin Standards”

Marga Gomez began her career in San Francisco’s gay comedy clubs in the mid-1980s, including the famed Valencia Rose Cabaret. A native of New York City, the Puerto Rican/Cuban-American comedian, humorist, and playwright has been one of the most prolific queer Latinx comedians for the better part of the last three decades. In fact, she was one of the nation’s first openly lesbian comedians and her work has unabashedly centered on the intersections of queerness and Latinidad. Her main solo shows include Pound; Lovebirds; Los Big Names; A Line Around the Block; Memory Tricks; Marga Gomez is Pretty, Witty & Gay; jaywalker; The Twelve Days...

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TotoToo’s production of “Bent” – On Being Gay in Nazi Germany

There are moments in TotoToo’s production of Bent that are as good as anything that this enterprising company has ever done. Indeed, the excellent performances of Phillip Merriman and Mike Rogoff as two doomed young lovers provide a compelling reason for theatergoers to seek out this sometimes problematic revival of Martin Sherman’s 1979 play about Nazi persecution of homosexuals. “Queers aren’t meant to love,” declares Max, the promiscuous young gay portrayed by Merriman. It suggests the shallow credo of a shallow human being — which hedonistic Max undoubtedly is until the Nazis thunder into his life in 1934 and...

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“Of Kith And Kin” at The Bush Theatre

A new baby is like an alien invasion: it blows your mind and it colonizes your world. For any couple, parenthood can be both exalting and devastating, with the stress hugging the relationship so tightly that eventually all its lies and evasions pop out. In his new play, Of Kith and Kin, which opened tonight at the Bush Theatre, Chris Thompson takes this idea and chucks it at a broody gay couple and their surrogate mother: Daniel, a 46-year-old lawyer, and his husband Oliver, a 32-year-old freelancer, are having a baby with their best friend, Priya. As the story begins...

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Transsexual Theatre: Two Brave New Edinburgh Plays Tell of Harrowing Journeys

The struggle for transgender people is a leading theme at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe thanks to two shows from the National Theatre of Scotland, Adam and Eve. The shows begin in different times and places, but both are about the profound transgender challenges around identity, transition and transformation of the self. Adam Kashmiry is the true story of a transman growing up in Egypt, alienated by family, community and even himself. His repression takes place in the context of a wider political oppression. His internal revolution is juxtaposed with the Arab Spring, culminating in his exile to Scotland in...

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Ponyboy Curtis’ “Vs” at Yard Theatre

Ponyboy Curtis are a cult phenomenon. Chris Goode’s queer performance collective has won plaudits galore ever since they made their debut at The Yard in 2015. I’ve read wild accounts of how amazing their shows are, how transformative, how they make your journey home from the theatre sing with pleasure. How alive they are. How revolutionary. How beyond words. As usual, I’m a little late to the party, but I was curious to see what all the fuss was about. So, beyond all the hype, how good is Vs, their new show? Instead of a program, Goode has produced...

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Boylesque Redefines Burlesque and Masculinity

Burlesque is an art form that has polarized Western society for centuries. In his 1991 publication on Burlesque, Robert C Allen explores its transgressive nature, which has enabled the art form to weave its way through history, nestling itself in a kind of Hegelian Dialectic in opposition to conservative, mainstream ideologies. From political pantomime in Victorian England to the performance of female sexuality in 20th and 21st century America; boundaries are pushed and conquered by burlesque performers with elegance and artistic flair. The latest frontier Burlesque performers have taken on within Australian urbanized society is hegemonic masculinity, by way...

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“Only Heaven Knows” Brings 1940s Queer Sydney Roaring Back to Life

Only Heaven Knows, a musical about a young Melbourne man who discovers the queer delights of homosexual desire, unexpected intimacies and gender transgressions in Sydney’s Kings Cross in the 1940s, has been revived in its thirtieth anniversary year at the Hayes Theatre in Elizabeth Bay. The director Shaun Rennie had reservations about staging a late 1980s musical about the 1940s, wondering if it would be a “museum piece.” It’s not, and it remains highly relevant today. It’s also a great night at the theatre, full of belly laughs and show-stealing numbers that pack some emotional punch. There were quite...

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Lucy McCormick’s “Triple Threat” Is The Nativity Reimagined, With LGBT Club Culture, Vibrators, And Lady Gaga

Most of us have begrudgingly sat through a nativity play; feigned interest as a nephew plays shepherd six in a mediocre school staging of the Christmas tale. So when I sit down to watch Triple Threat – Lucy McCormick’s interpretation of Christ’s “birth, life, death, and a bit after death” – I’m certain I’ve got a handle on at least the first section of the narrative. Then she walks on stage wielding a large purple vibrator.The hour-long critically acclaimed piece, which was an unexpected success with the critics at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, hits the Soho Theatre in London...

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