Raising our voices
LGBTQ Arts editor Amie Taylor is on a mission to elevate LBT+ voices.
I can pinpoint the exact moment I snapped. It was during an LGBT Festival last year and the drag artist that was compèring made a derogatory and misogynistic aside about lesbians. I continued to simmer as he went on to read a poem that had decidedly ableist undertones. I left the theatre feeling angry and questioning, “Who is this LGBT festival for?” Certainly not me. Something has to change.
As always, there was a lot more ‘G’ in this particular festival than there was LBT+. Since launching the LGBTQ Arts Review in 2014 this is something I’ve seen time and time again - certain voices making it to the stage far less often than others. Broad representation is also a concern of mine, too often on stage (and TV) lesbians meet tragic endings, and we seldom see them have a happy ever after. I am still waiting to witness the theatre that my straight counterparts had the privilege of growing up with. I want gay, transgender, bisexual and intersectional* characters to appear in plays with their gender and sexuality a side note, rather than the crux of the story. I want to see varied representations of queer women on stage, and I want young queer women to have access to these stories in the way that I didn’t.
For the past three years The LGBTQ Arts Review has reviewed, promoted and celebrated LGBTQ+ voices in the arts, we’ve reviewed over 175 shows and interviewed some 100+ people working in the industry. I’m now looking to see how we can use this work to inform our next steps as we seek to become an instigator of change. I want us to play a part, however small, in supporting lesser heard and intersectional voices to reach our stages. As with any inequality, it’s about tackling it from the root; theatres may, and often do, put calls out for work by queer or lesbian women, trans and non-binary people, but if there are barriers that make it harder for them to submit work in the first place, then we’ll never see the imbalance change.
In 2017, The LGBTQ Arts Review is taking three initial steps to tackle this problem. In mid May we will be opening our new writing programme for submissions. This will be a chance for writers, new writers and theatre makers creating work about or featuring LBT+ themes and characters, to see their work in action, discuss it with a supportive audience; explore their aims, objectives and dreams for the piece as well receive feedback. All of this in a cosy, inclusive and safe setting, with time for a drink or two after. From the new writing night we will offer support to these writers / makers in reaching a complete script and getting it on to a stage. Although we initially plan to work with eight writers, we would like to engage with all applicants across the process.
As well as this we are holding a Devoted and Disgruntled Satellite through Improbable Theatre at The New Diorama in London on the 13th July (6-10pm). An event held in Open Space where we will explore the provocation: “Let's find ways to elevate LBTQ+ voices, so they carry the same weight in theatre as the gay cis-male voice.” It’s free and all are welcome to come, I have a particular interest in talking to DIVA readers, to find out what work they are keen to see in their theatres.
Finally, I'm hugely excited to announce that in September we are curating three days of an LGBT Theatre Festival (venue to be confirmed soon), in which we will be sharing work developed through the new writing programme, as well as with outside collaborators. We will be featuring theatre performance, art work and installation made by, about and for LBT+ artists.
This is a call to action, to bring the lesser heard LBTQ+ voices and stories to our stages. We invite you to join with The LGBTQ Arts Review, as we set about to create wider and better representation of queer and lesbian women as well as trans and non-binary people in theatre, and offer the next generation of audiences access to the stories that have been lacking for us.
If there’s support you can offer financial, admin, mentoring or anything else, we would love to hear from you, please email Amie at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you are a writer / theatre maker and would like to submit to the new writers / theatre makers’ program please email email@example.com and we’ll drop you an email when we open submissions. We’re especially keen to hear from people that go to watch LGBT theatre too, to get their take on what’s out there and what they’d like to see.
For updates on all of our work follow us on Twitter @LGBTQArts.
*Intersectional being a person that belongs to more than one minority group.
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