The ‘butterflies’ above refers to the fact that on his travels around the British and Belgian colonial empires, and his sojourn in parts of Latin America investigating the brutalities of various rubber companies, Casement collected local lepidoptera (butterflies) for the Natural History Museum. This is a London-based institution, he may have felt it another part of his imperial duty to do such. The London University School of Slavonic and East European and the School of African and Oriental Studies were both a focussing of relatively disorganised studies in wartime, for wartime. The persons who ran The Empire were, as Pádraig Pearse put it, strong and wise and wary. There was nothing about their ill-gotten booty they weren’t interested in – and hanging onto, thus the centralising of knowledge about the east European and Slav world, as well as The Empire.
The ‘bones’ refers to a number of things, including Casement’s own bones. An introductory voiceover (repeated twice during the performance), quotes notes made by a bureaucrat in the course of Casement’s remains being disinterred to be repatriated to Ireland fifty years after his execution. The anonymous, disinterested, civil servant notes that, despite being told by (Pentonville) Prison personnel that the use of quicklime had been abandoned some year’s prior to Casement’s execution, there was a layer of the substance in the grave. It had been poured over the body, which was in a winding sheet, and had destroyed the flesh, and, half a century on, most of Casement’s bones.
Dance is not a medium designed to convey specific messages – there are times in this show when it is difficult to work out where in Casement’s career we are. There are no obvious references to his long sojourn as a minor imperial Consular bureaucrat. There are to his encounter with King (’of the Belgians’) Leopold – pictured as an un-regal, almost gangsterish figure. (He spent most of his life in a Paris hotel, living with his ‘mistress’, his devout Spanish wife lied with their children in the draughty Laeken Palace in Brussels.
This ‘show’ is well worth seeing, despite some obvious problems – most dancers have fine ‘toned’ bodies – most monarchs and bureaucrats don’t. There are moments when the cast appear in ensemble, at one or two points not overdressed, when most of the audience’s attention inevitably wanders away from the grisly climax of this story.
Which is, of course, Casement’s brutal execution.
This Project is one of the better – and unusual – products of the centenary commemorations of 1916.
This show was part of Belfast International Arts Festival 2016. In 1916, British peer Roger Casement was hanged in Pentonville Prison and was shown in The MAC, Belfast on 13 October 2016
If you’ve never heard of Roger Casement, who was executed by the British for treason 100 years ago today, the reason is as simple as it is sad, he was homosexual. For that reason he was ignored when he was not being written out of our revolutionary history.
Jeffrey Dudgeon, MBE has written two wonderful insightful books into Casement,
- Roger Casement: The Black Diaries – with a study of his background, sexuality, and Irish political life Paperback – 5 Jan 2016
- Roger Casement’s German Diary, 1914-1916: Including ‘A Last Page’ and associated correspondence Paperback – 24 Jun 2016
- His Antrim father fought in Afghanistan
- His Anglican mother secretly baptised him as a Catholic
- He was looked after by the people of Antrim after his parents died
- He exposed one of the bloodiest colonial regimes ever
- What he saw changed him
- He sought German backing for an Irish rebellion during WWI
- Some see him as a gay icon
- Arthur Conan Doyle campaigned against his sentence
- He converted to Catholicism on the day of his execution
- A hundred years on from the Easter Rising, it’s important to remember Casement
However, as with all history, it is open to interpretation, and I know that different camps will have different feelings towards Casement, his impact on Irish history, and on Gay History.
The musical about him was one such attempt, and I hope that if it comes to a theatre near you, you will make an effort to see it and view it through the eyes of someone who is probably far older than he was, and also who has the benefit of a society that is beginning to be accepting of LGBT people.
Published by Gay History –
A still image from the 1919 German film Anders als die Andern (Different from the Others) depicting a concert violinist who killed himself because of adverse publicity about his homosexual orientation | 15436
Historian Samuel Clowes Huneke has discovered that gay suicide is a historical phenomenon, with a distinct and varied past. Huneke is the first scholar in the field of modern German history to examine the relationship between suicide and gay identity. He is also the first to historicize gay suicide and trace the ways in which it pervades the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
“A striking trend of gay suicide evolved in German culture in the late 19th and early 20th centuries,” he said. Through a close examination of German suicide notes, letters, diaries, medical records, gay literary magazines and novels, Huneke has identified clear connections between the suicide trope and the development of gay identity in modern Germany.
“In the late 1860s, just at the moment when the earliest texts on homosexuality began to appear, German doctors, activists, and writers also began to discuss and depict gay suicide with increasing frequency.” This phenomenon of linking homosexuality with suicide sparked the beginning of what he sees as a trend in poetry, plays and novels in which suicide is a recurring theme. This group “pointed to a handful of gay suicides in order to claim that there was an epidemic of gay men killing themselves because of anti-sodomy laws and fear of exposure.”
Klaus Mann, the first prominent German gay novelist in Western history, was the son of writer Thomas Mann. Klaus Mann published in the 1920s, and his work treated homosexuality openly. The suicide of gay characters recurs in most of Mann’s books. In his novel Treffpunkt im Unendlichen (Meeting-Point at Infinity, 1932), the unrequited love of a gay man for a heterosexual man leads the gay character to take his own life. Mann chose to make the suicide appear romantic and gentle: The gay man committed suicide in the straight man’s bed, in what Mann describes as a wedding-night scene. “It’s seen as a romantic fulfillment of life … instead of depicting something like suicide as a brutal, tragic act, it is depicted as a grand capstone to a miserable life. As if the best thing this character has done with his life is to kill himself.”
Klaus Mann himself committed suicide in a hotel in Cannes, in 1949.
The title says it all. The show is a take off on Cinderella, and in the Stag’s version Prince Charming is searching the kingdom for a man (and NOT a woman) who fits into the glass slipper, in the kingdom of Slutvia. And that man is Cinders. He cooks and cleans and does the chores for his wicked evil stepmother Countess Volga and her two vile daughters Nicole Ferrari and Maude Escort. But then one day, while on a gay app on his mobile phone, he meets Prince Charming, and it is love at first sight for both of them. But Cinders’ phone gets ruined (I won’t say how!), and he’s unable to contact, or be contacted by, the very handsome young Prince.
But there is a Fairy Godmother, in the form of The Fairy, and she’s the one who, with the help of the adorable Buttons, makes sure that Cinders gets to the ball to be reunited with Prince Charming, though the Prince’s father, King Ludwig, has no clue that his son is jonesing for another man. It’s all a laugh a minute when the show takes us from the Countesses’ kitchen to the King’s office to a courgette that gets turned into, funny enough, a mode of transport to which Cinders to the palace! We also are treated to songs about balls, a clever slow-motion scene that involves the entire cast, and enough campiness and cute boys to make even Alan Carr blush. And to top it off, we are spoiled with Slutvia’s Eurovision song!
What can one say about a show that has ok acting, ok singing, and an ok script? Well – it’s brilliant! You’ll be laughing from the opening scenes which include a giant rat, to the audience participation bits (there are quite a few and boy are they clever!), up to the final heartwarming and groin inflaming scenes. It’s a show that’s over two hours but it flies by. And the cast are perfect, from Joseph Lycett-Barnes as Prince Charming to Lucas Meredith as Buttons and Grant Cartwright as Cinders – everyone does their part, and they all act very well with each other! From the writers and director of total sell-out hits ‘Get Aladdin,’ ‘Jack Off the Beanstalk,’ and ‘Treasure Island – The Curse of the Pearl Necklace’ (Martin Hooper and Jon Bradfield) and directed by Andrew Beckett, Above the Stag has put on another memorable show.
Tinderella: Cinders Slips it In is playing until January 16th, 2016. Most performances are sold out but there are a few tickets left on various dates. To book, please go here: http://www.abovethestag.com/shows/
Reviewed by Tim Baros
A chilling and challenging piece shows how far equality and gay rights have come in Northern Ireland – and how far is left to go
The Mac, Belfast
It’s no picnic being gay in Northern Ireland, but it’s better than it used to be. In 1991, a hundred or so people took part in Belfast’s first Gay Pride march. Thanks to the campaigning efforts of those defiant few, a procession of some 20,000 made its way through the city centre in 2015. Then there is the other side of the coin. Northern Ireland is the only region in these islands where same sex marriage does not exist and where a majority vote in the Assembly can be overturned by a benign-sounding Petition of Concern.
In this chilling and challenging piece, Theatreofpluck’s artistic director Niall Rea has joined forces with writer Shannon Yee, who is currently involved in a High Court case to lift the same sex marriage ban, while celebrating the 10th anniversary of being one half of the UK’s first civil partnership. Yee grew up in the liberal, socially diverse environment of America’s east coast from where, in 2004, she moved to Belfast. Her own contrasting experiences of navigating one’s sexuality promoted her to interview 46 LGBT individuals about their agonising existence below the radar during the Troubles.
Rea’s design and direction – the latter in cooperation with Anna Newell – are both disorientating and sharply focused. Conan McIvor’s video images are embedded into a large gauzy cube, around which the audience moves in semi-darkness. Glimpses and snatches from other lives bleed into a quagmire of verbatim testimonies, recorded on screen by a cast of high-profile actors. Out of Eduardo Patricio’s pulsing soundscape, emerges a heady mix of laughter, fear, isolation and self-destruction. Notably, Alexandra Ford’s admission of forbidden love comes wrenched from the depths of her soul, while PJ O’Reilly wryly recalls grubby back street bars and clubs where homosexuality and punk music became natural bedfellows.
Unsettlingly, Andrew Sandford is the sole live presence, transforming before our eyes from a beautiful, bare-torsoed young man into a resolute pillar of the community. Proceedings climax in a joyous dance celebration, but even there in that ostensibly safe place, reality intervenes suddenly, shockingly and with a horrible inevitability.
Trouble is at Belfast City Hall as a video archive installation throughout December
The Gospel According to Jesus Queen of Heaven is set to be shown on Sunday at the Outburst Queer Arts Festival.
The story - which involves Jesus returning to the world as a transgender person – has sparked fury in the past, with hundreds turning up to protest against it in Glasgow.
It was written by Jo Clifford, who describes herself as a practising Christian and also a transgender woman.
She claims to have recreated Biblical stories with a “different slant”.
Ms Clifford will not be performing the play in Belfast. Instead, a recording of a previous performance will be shown and a live question and answer discussion with Ms Clifford will take place afterward.
“It’s a very important, very intimate show,” she said when she previously defended the play.
“Obviously being a transgender woman myself it concerns me very greatly that religious people so often use Christianity as a weapon to attack us and justify the prejudices against us.
“I wanted to see if we could move away from that and make people think again.”
However clerics from a number of different churches across Belfast have urged that the performance be cancelled.
In a letter to the Belfast Telegraph, the Rev Tim Anderson, rector of St Elizabeth’s Church in Dundonald; Pastor Stuart Crooks from Dundonald Baptist Church; Rev William Press from Knockbreda Church; David Luckman from Crosslinks Ireland; and Trevor Johnston from All Saint’s on University Street warned that the show will give offence.
“The traditional teaching of the church, expressed in its historic creeds, clearly portrays Jesus Christ as the eternal Son of God,” they wrote.
“As the Bible says, he is ‘the exact imprint’ of his Father in Heaven (Hebrews 1.3) and the good news of the Christian message entirely depends on this unique and unchangeable relationship.
“Although in his incarnation he is male, the New Testament is very clear that his death upon the cross is for all. All have sinned and all can be redeemed through faith in him, irrespective of gender, ethnicity, social class or any other human distinction.
“There is therefore no need for any other Jesus.”
They went on to write a presentation of a transgender Jesus will “not only be regarded as offensive by Christian believers but also by Christ himself”.
“The performance will therefore cause great offence and for this reason we respectfully urge that it may not happen,” they wrote.
Rev Press told the Belfast Telegraph he felt disturbed by the description of the plot of the play.
He said it would be extremely regrettable if the play was not cancelled, but felt a protest would be unlikely.
Pastor Paul Burns of the Adullam Christian Fellowship Church said though the recording of the play “shouldn’t be shown in Northern Ireland” he said his independent church won’t be protesting at what was a “money-making” enterprise.
“I don’t feel the need to protest,” he confirmed. “Christianity stands on its own and we know the story of Christ and that he is coming back, and is neither a transvestite or gay.
“To protest is only to attract attention for something that is trying to make money, and in relation to the placards and protests it generates – it’s just what they want.
“They want publicity and no doubt the opposition of Christians will be going to help this.”
The Queer Arts Festival has defended bringing the play to Belfast and said it will not be cancelled.
“Jo is a celebrated playwright with a transgender history who has written an uplifting piece of work that explores and celebrates her own Christian beliefs,” said festival director Ruth McCarthy. “We’re delighted to welcome her this weekend to share it with our audiences.
“While I recognise that there are people in Northern Ireland who oppose the idea of LGBTQ people celebrating their own religion in a way that is inclusive and embracing, Outburst is a celebratory and joyful event, so we prefer to concentrate on the hope, support and warmth that Jo’s work brings to Belfast.”
Jesus Queen of Heaven has met controversy in the past, when 300 protesters held a candlelit protest outside a Glasgow theatre in 2009, with some claiming that the play was blasphemous.
Issues surrounding same-sex marriage sparked consternation in the Assembly only last week when the third proposal to legalise it in Northern Ireland failed.
Butch Monologues for Homotopia 2015Butch Monologues for Homotopia 2015
Liverpool’s Homotopia festival – the annual celebration of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender culture – is back for a 12th year, and taking over city venues from a month from this Friday.
This year’s festival has the theme Art = Life, and features more than 50 events from dance, debate and literature to visual art, film and comedy.
If you are around then try to fit at least one of the festival items in.
Here is a link:
by Josh Withey
Annie Preloux’s iconic story will be making its way to the stage in a new production.
Today producer Tom O’Connell announced that he’s acquired the stage rights for Annie Preloux’s award-winning short story Brokeback Mountain.
The incredible tale of a forbidden and secretive relationship between two cowboys, that was brought to life 10 years ago by Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal and Director Ang Lee will now be taking to the stage.
“The actors who pull on their scuffed-up boots will step into a difficult time in a hard place.”
Producer Tom O’Connell said: “I am honoured to bring Annie Proulx’s beloved story to the stage as a new play that celebrates her compelling writing and will bring a new perspective on this heart-warming tale of an unbreakable bond.
“I’ve been extremely lucky in my career to produce plays which challenge, inspire and educate as much as they entertain; the struggles that the characters of Brokeback Mountain go through are still present in the world today, making the piece as relevant as ever. I am very much looking forward to working alongside Annie with a first-class creative team to bring Jack and Ennis’ story to new audiences.”
The Stag Theatre kicks off its autumn season with this adorable antipodean adventure that packs a hefty emotional punch.
Jeff is a 21-year-old football-loving lad who lives with Harry, his widower father, in 1980’s Australia. Dad and son are both single and looking for love, though while Harry is seeking a lovely lady, it’s the boys that Jeff like to score with down-under, so this hilarious intergenerational buddy drama is more a case of ‘Gay-bours’ than ‘Neighbours’. Or ‘Home And A Gay’, if you prefer. (Sorry…)
The key to this touching tale is the relationship between father and son. By the time we join the narrative Harry has already fully accepted his son’s homosexuality and loves him unconditionally – if anything, he’s overly accepting, happily walking in on Jeff’s bedroom antics and asking how his lovers take their tea… Stephen Connery-Brown is exceptionally amiable as Harry – capturing our hearts from the off with winsome wit and cheeky chat, warming them with personal sacrifice to protect his son, and then ultimately tearing them out of our chests and shattering them to pieces with a final, devastating twist.
Tim McFarland, playing Jeff, is a shining star, carrying the show with a nuanced portrait of a young gay man who has everything going for him but lacks the self-belief to quite fulfil his potential. The scene between him and Greg (Rory Hawkins) – the boy he brings home from the bar – is transfixingly awkward and endearingly entertaining. When Dad joins them for a nightcap the resultant dynamic between Connery-Brown, McFarland, and Hawkins is a rare joyful alchemy that sets this show apart as a genuine theatrical treasure.
There’s also superb support from Annabel Pemberton as Joyce – a potential lover that Harry meets through a dating agency. Joyce’s reaction to finding gay porn in the apartment leads to a pivotal moment for Harry that’s perfectly played by both parties.
Gene David Kirk’s direction of David Stevens’ snappy script is pacey and punchy. The set is ridiculously impressive with its attention to detail and lighting by Jack Weir complements proceedings skilfully. Once again Above the Stag sets the bar for fringe theatre with lavish production values that give the West-End a run for its money.
This delicious slice of upside-down cake is thoroughly recommended. With plenty of laugh-out-loud moments and a poignant plot that keeps us guessing, The Sum Of Us is a precious gem that you really don’t want to miss.
GT gives The Sum of Us 5/5
The Sum Of Us runs at Above The Stag Theatre until 4 October. For full details see abovethestag.com
Editorial: For those of you who can’t get to London there was a version with Jack Thompson, Russell Crowe, John Polson in 1994, and it is currently available to be watched on Youtube:
To celebrate the fantastic Dusty being extended through to 21 November, it feels only appropriate to take a look back at some of Dusty Springfield’s most illustrious and definitive moments.
The multi-media “fusion musical” celebrates the life and career of Dusty, one of the most recognisable media figureheads of the 21st century. Using the most up-to-date 3D technology, the audience experiences Dusty’s finest moments and how she broke the rules of music.
Here are a few of the 60s icon’s best moments…
 Probably her campest moment of her life had to be her collaboration with the Pet Shop Boys. 1987’s What Have I Done to Deserve This — which we hope is on one of your playlists somewhere — resurged a new found love for Dustyamongst millennials. Lady Gaga joined the Pet Shop Boys at the 2009 BRIT Awards following an Outstanding Contribution to Music award.
2) The Grammy Hall of Fame awardee rose to fame following the release of Island of Dreams, and Say I Won’t Be There while in folk-oriented trio the Springfields. The early 60s trio; Dusty, her brother Tom Springfield and Tim Feild, had an impressive run with the release of three albums and a handful of EPs.
3) Dusty’s interview on infamous British TV show French and Saunders has proven to be one of the most iconic televised and hilarious interviews in modern history. The semi-comedic/semi-informative interview explored Springfield’s life and asked deeply personal questions like “what’s your favourite colour?”
4) Nothing Has Been Proved is one of those timeless “walk to work” tracks and probably one of Springfield’s campest songs. Most likely to appear as a lip sync battle on RuPaul’s Drag Race, the 1989 single dominated second place in both the UK and US charts.
5) And finally, you knew it was coming didn’t you? Dusty’s Son of a Preacher Man formed itself as one of the most quintessential sounds of the 20th century, let alone the 60s. This imperative soul classic really establishes Dusty as a cultural icon.
It’s impossible to watch this and not think of Pulp Fiction…
Due to popular demand the DUSTY show has been extended to 21 Nov! To celebrate we have a special offer – best price tickets are down from £49.50 to £20. It’s first come, first served and tickets should be booked using this link:www.ticketmaster.co.uk/promo/yik5pl. And if you mention ‘Memphis’ at the box office you’ll get a free brochure worth £8.