National Theatre unveils Queer Theatre event series

The National Theatre is set to mark the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales by staging its first Queer Theatre event series from July 6 – 10, 2017.

As part of the programme a group of world-class actors and directors will look at how theatre has charted the LGBT+ experience through a series of rehearsed readings and post-show discussions in the Lyttelton Theatre.

Tarell Alvin McCraney: Photo by George Schiavone

Tarell Alvin McCraney: Photo by George Schiavone

Launching the initiative, playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney spoke about directing a reading of his play Wig Out!: “I feel grateful to be returning to the UK and reading this piece” he said. “As we continue better to understand ourselves and how we perform in the world I hope this investigation back into the ‘ball scene’ will be as exciting as it is important. #Alllove&Allpride.”

Stephen Daldry

Stephen Daldry

Speaking about directing Martin Sherman’s ground-breaking 1979 play Bent, Stephen Daldry said: “As a teenager Bent was the first play I ever saw on the London stage. Amazingly at a theatre I went on to be the director of. It was a devastating experience for a young gay man from a small market town in Somerset. I can honestly say the experience changed my life. The play went on to take London by storm. I am thrilled and honoured to direct a rehearsed reading of Martin Sherman’s explosive play to mark this important anniversary.”

The NT’s Queer Theatre event series is hosted in partnership with London Pride. As well as the rehearsed readings it will include a free exhibition and other talks and screenings, details of which will be announced shortly.

The full programme of rehearsed readings is:

♦      Neaptide by Sarah Daniels (1986), Thursday, July 6 7.30pm, directed By Sarah Frankcom

Neaptide was the National Theatre’s first full-length play by a female playwright. It presents a ferocious but funny account of the public and private battles of a lesbian mother in the 1980s, alongside the ancient myth of Demeter & Persephone. Having recently come out to her family, Claire now faces a bitter custody battle and uncertainty over her teaching career.

♦      Wig Out! by Tarell Alvin McCraney (2008), Friday, July 7, 7.30pm, directed by Tarell Alvin McCraney

Witness the fiercest battle in New York as the House Of Light compete with the House Of Diabolique for drag family supremacy at the Cinderella Ball. When Eric meets Wilson, it’s a good old-fashioned boy meets boy fairytale. However, when Wilson reveals his drag alter-ego Nina, questions of masculinity and gender come to the fore.  In the tradition of Paris Is Burning, this big, bold and riotous play looks at gender, drag and fabulousness.

Peter Gill: Photo by Nobby Clark

Peter Gill: Photo by Nobby Clark

♦      Certain Young Men by Peter Gill (1999), Saturday, July 8, 7.30pm, directed by Peter Gill

‘To be really queer you have to have someone nail your foreskin to a piece of wood and generally kick up a bit of a fuss.’ As the new millennium approaches, four gay couples illuminate the differences within the ‘gay community’. Is gay life defined by living in coupled suburban bliss or chasing casual sex?

♦      Bent by Martin Sherman (1979), Sunday, July 9, 2.30pm, directed by Stephen Daldry

Following Nazi Germany’s Night Of The Long Knives in 1934, gay lovers Max and Rudy are taken away to Dachau by the Gestapo. Desperate to avoid the dreaded Pink Triangle, Max claims to be Jewish. In amongst the horrors of the Camp, he meets Horst who wears his Pink Triangle with pride.

Polly Stenham: Photo by Laura Pannack

Polly Stenham: Photo by Laura Pannack

♦      The Drag by Mae West (1927), Monday, July 10, 7.30pm, directed by Polly Stenham

The play that scandalised 1920s New York follows respected, married socialite Rolly. Son of a homophobic judge and married to the daughter of an eminent gay conversion therapist, Rolly is keen to keep his homosexual tendencies under wraps. However, when he decides to host a drag ball in his drawing-room, events soon spiral out of control. One of the first plays to shed light on gay counter-culture, Mae West’s rarely performed comedy was banned after ten performances.

The Queer Theatre event series will coincide with 2017 London Pride weekend and tickets will go on sale from Friday, May 5. Tickets include entry to each post-show discussion.

For more information on the Queer Theatre event series, click here:

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