I recently read an interview with Mark Ravenhill (one of my all time favourite playwrights) where he said he didn’t believe there was much visibility for gay writers at the moment. To be honest, it’s not something that had ever occurred to me. Being in a creative industry it’s easy to take for granted the presence of both the LGBT community and its creative history. But It has to be said that the great plays I’ve been reading lately haven’t been coming from LGBT writers. Now, I see no real reason why they should be. If a play is great, it’s great, after all. But the LGBT community has a long, strong and important relationship with the arts and that shouldn’t be ignored.
The more I think on the subject, the more I feel that the strength of LGBT characters may have diminished over time too. This may be due to growing acceptance in daily life. There’s simply a smaller fight for these characters to be involved in now. That’s not to say there isn’t still a significant struggle going on, but with gay characters featuring on pretty much every TV show in western culture, the theatre no longer provides them with the required liberal space for exploration and political battle. Gay characters have once more been reduced down to a novelty; a check box for political correctness. This move away from politics and into stereotypical farce can be clearly seen, alive and kicking, in theatre today. The vast majority of gay theatre revolves around gay stereotypes, often exploring their sexuality in clichéd, unimaginative set ups. Although these productions are in many cases very good, ticking the boxes for light entertainment, in my opinion they make up far too large a proportion of gay theatre and are fast becoming the recognised face of the LGBT community in the arts. There's a far broader spectrum of LGBT work being created that unfortunately isn't always noticed in the same way.
And all of this leads me swiftly onto our recent and very exciting news.
Back in 2014 our company made its International debut performing ‘Man Enough’ as part of the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival. This was a massive deal for us, as it was the first big opportunity we’d been given as a company to showcase our work. We were, and still are, incredibly grateful to the festival for taking that chance on us and giving us such a valuable platform, especially back in 2014 when we still finding our feet.
This year we will be returning to the IDGTF with ‘Bleach’. We’ve come a long way in the last few years and are excited to be returning to the festival as a stronger, more confident and much more accomplished company. The IDGTF is the largest LGBT theatre festival in the world and does a stellar job of showcasing the best that gay theatre has to offer from all around the world. At this festival you really do get a bit of everything and it goes such a long way to prove just how important LGBT culture is to the arts. From Oscar wild classics and serious dramas to stand up comedy and modern more experimental work. On top of all that the festival has it's own unique culture of it's own. You really won’t find another festival with such a supportive, community lead atmosphere and such a loyal audience base.
We learnt so much during our last visit to Dublin and made lasting friendships which I’m sure we will pick up and build on this year (we've already booked in a few drinks!). We’re looking forward to immersing ourselves once again in this vibrant and unique festival.
It's so important that we take the time to appreciate the impact of LGBT culture on the arts and continue to add to it. The struggle may not be what it once was, but there's still a ways to go and we should never forget the work that came before us. Theatre could not be a more fitting place for this development and tribute to take place and long may our community be at the forefront of pushing the boundaries and entertaining alike. I can honestly say that I'm very proud to be an LGBT writer, actor and just a gay man in general.
We’re extra excited about it this year, as a week away just the two of us will give us a great opportunity to work on new projects and draw on all the inspiration around us; a luxury we are rarely afforded. Performing 8 shows in one week is going to be full on but we'll be keeping you posted on everything that's happening and hopefully some of you will make it to over to enjoy everything that Dublin and the IDGTF has to offer.
We love this festival and can’t wait to get back there and take our little place in its history. Gay theatre is alive, it’s strong and it’s just as relevant as it ever was. And the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival stands a living proof .