A Queer Ceili at the Marty Forsythe is an exciting new production from Kabosh that explores the events of the first National Union of Students Lesbian and Gay Conference, Queens University Belfast 1983. This is the first heritage premiere produced in the new partnership between Kabosh and LGBT History Month.
One year after the decriminalisation of homosexuality in Northern Ireland, and two years after the 1981 hunger strike, the events of that weekend are a remarkable chapter in the city’s LGBT history.
Upon arriving at Queens University Students Union, conference delegates from across Ireland and the UK were greeted by a large-scale protest from the ‘Save Ulster From Sodomy’ campaign. This crusade was still in full force despite its recent defeat in trying to hold Northern Ireland behind the rest of the UK in legalising homosexuality.
As hostility echoed from outside the Students Union and tensions mounted within, with pressure from the NUS National Executive threatening to cancel the event and evict the delegates from their digs, the conference was in danger of receiving anything but a warm Irish welcome.
That was about to change……
Delegates were offered an invitation from the community in West Belfast to join them at the Martin Forsythe Social Club in Turf Lodge, an invitation that was eagerly accepted. In the early evening of Saturday 22nd October 1983, a convoy of Belfast’s famous black taxis transported delegates to an event they could never have expected, and one they would never forget. That evening turned into one of the most remarkable and supportive LGBT events any of the young delegates had ever experienced, and the most unique céilí Belfast had seen.
Set against the soundscape of 1983 Belfast: the escalating Troubles; vocal and violent opposition to homosexuality; and a thriving punk scene, A Queer Ceili at the Marty Forsytheis an exploration of a unique chapter in Belfast’s history, and a celebration of commonality and camaraderie in the face of adversity.
The world premiere of this production will take place in the Trinity Lodge, formerly The Marty Forsythe where the 1983 céilí was held!
Produced by Kabosh in partnership with LGBT History Month. Written by Dominic Montague and directed by Paula McFetridge. A premiere with the Imagine Belfast Festival of Ideas and Politics. Funded by Arts Council Northern Ireland, Belfast City Council, Community Relations Council NI, and The Halifax Foundation.