"Gay Theatre" or "Theatre" - Help me with my MA Thesis.

Dan Phillips, 27 January 2013

Attented by Simon, John, Richard and Dan (Plus two others who I didn't manage to catch names from so please add yourself to this report)

I am studying a Masters Degree in Theatre Direction and am exploring the world of “Gay and Lesbian Theatre” in order to narrow down my field of search.

The session started with an issue that arrived from the categorisation of any theatre/cinema with gay relationships as “Gay/Lesbian Theatre” and the divide it may create and also whether there are enough plays being written about gay characters where the main issues are not about ‘being gay’.

Argument made from a gay writers point of view:
By the mere fact of being written by a gay person the issues and worlds created are going to be of a different culture and experience. Can we ever have gay characters who, being gay is not a dominant part, for an audience? In this current society an (Non LGBT) audience will see a gay character and cling to the fact that they are gay making it a dominant issue in the play, maybe overshadowing other themes and issues.

Point that derived from this is whether the audience will ever change if we keep of saying “The audience wont” or “they won't think that” and so is it our job to create more work based on core issues where the characters sexuality IS gay but that doesn't necessarily matter. The story could be non gender specific. Leading onto Queer

Theory and Queer plays and how this non gender specific theatre can help create worlds where sexuality isn't the focal point.

As gay people, we might like the idea of categorising, as we actively want to go see things that we can relate to, things about ‘us’ and this helps us find that work. Also from a marketing point of view, selling a show is about knowing what it is and who it is aimed at so the categorising helps in this instance to be specific. But what is the audience or the story you want to tell?

Maybe we like being different, not being ‘normal’ and being out there and proud so maybe we should embrace this sub culture.

We touched on certain films such as ‘Weekend’ which did cross a boundary into the mainstream as it had become such a success in it's niche first. So maybe it is about using the niche to get yourself noticed and then making that move into the mainstream where you may have been lost in the first time round. Using LGBT theatre festivals like ‘Homotopia’ in Liverpool to build a reputation and following.

Why is there not ‘Straight theatre’? Should there be?

Is there good to be had from our sub culture or are we simply creating an inaccessible bubble for ourselves?

Maybe we as writers and theatre makers have a responsibility to get more stories out there where sexuality and gender and interchangeable.

Companies and plays that came up:

  • The Winters Tale by Propeller
  • Shopping and F***ing by Mark Ravenhill
  • Bent - Martin Sherman
  • Hero - EV Crowe
  • Hedwig and the Angry Inch - John Cameron Mitchell
  • Lots of questions but no answers.

I will be writing my thesis this summer so any ideas of a train of thought or a concise theory to explore would be greatly appreciated.


Bisexual, Sub Culture, LGBT, Queer, Theatre, Lesbian, writing, Plays, queer, film, plays, Writing, Cinema, cinema, theatre, Gay, Film

Comments: 2

Paul Bonham, 29 January 2013

Pink Fringe in Brighton are supporting lots of new queer work

German Munoz, 31 January 2013

Papercut Theatre has done ‘XY’ at Theatre503 where the remit was to write a short play without specifying gender for any of the characters.