2018: Playing With The Past

Stephen M Hornby and Abi Hynes, two of our Festival Theatre playwrights, gave a talk at the People’s History Museum in Manchester as part of their OUTing the Past Festival for 2018.  They talked about four plays and how they’d researched archives and worked with historical adviser to create compelling and popular drama that was also historically literate drama.  Here’s …

Directing Festival Theatre: Raiding A Drag Ball

Dan Jarvis directed the very first episode of the first piece of Festival Theatre, “A Very Victorian Scandal: The Raid.”  It was a complex immersive period recreation of a drag ball, with live music hall singing, a chorus of can-can boys, a nun on the door and a live police raid.  Here Dan considers the many and varied potentials for …

Writing Festival Theatre: “The Burnley Buggers’ Ball”

Stephen M Hornby, our National Playwright in Residence, looks back at writing “The Burnley Buggers’ Ball”, one of two pieces commissioned to make the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Sexual Offences Act. I thought I was writing a play mostly about Ray Gosling, the famous broadcaster from the 1970s.  Jeff Evans and I had been discussing what to do to …

Directing Festival Theatre: Helen Parry

Helen Parry has directed four pieces of Festival Theatre and explores the joys and challenges of the work in the context of her wider career. I’ve been involved for the last three years with LGBT HM, directing four very different pieces of work. I have had previous experience of site specific work (Styal Mill in Cheshire, Farfield Mill in Sedbergh, …

Writing Festival Theatre: “A Very Victorian Scandal: The Press”

Stephen M Hornby looks back on writing “A Very Victorian Scandal: The Press”, the second in a trilogy of plays dramatising the Police raid on an all-male drag ball in Manchester in 1880. There were several elements to the puzzle: an ambitious man who wanted to become Chief Constable, an unprecedented press frenzy that spread across the world and a …

Festival Theatre 2017 – “The Burnley Buggers’ Ball” & “Burnley’s Lesbian Liberator”

This post by Stephen M Hornby, our National Theatre Coordinator, continues our catalogue of Festival Theatre. 2017 marked the 50th anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act 2017, which partially decriminalised male homosexuality in England and Wales.  In 2007, the 40th anniversary saw two dramatisations to mark the ocassion, one about the Wolfenden Committee, and one about the Monatgu case.  Consenting …

Festival Theatre 2016 “Mister Stokes: The Man-Woman of Manchester”

This post by National Theatre Coordinator Stephen M Hornby continues our catalogue of Festival Theatre. “A Very Victorian Scandal”, the first piece of Festival Theatre in 2015, had been so succsseful that it invited further dramatisations of hidden histories.  However, some important lessons had also been learnt.  “A Very Victorian Scandal” was essentially three one act plays, all of which …

Festival Theatre 2016: “Devils in Human Shape”

Stephen M Hornby, our National Theatre Coordinator, continues his cataloguing of Festival Theatre with a look at Tom Marshman‘s 2016 piece “Devils in Human Shape”. When approaching working with archive to create drama, there can be an unspoken preferencing of stage realism, of trying to recreate and represent people and events “as they were”, or in as close an approximation …

Festival Theatre 2015: “A Very Victorian Scandal”

Stephen M Hornby, our National Festival Theatre Coordinator, continues his cataloguing of Festival Theatre with a look at the first example, “A Very Victorian Scandal”. “A Very Victorian Scandal”  (“AVVS”) was based on the events surrounding the largest raid on an LGBT venue in UK history.  It has been christened “The UK’s Stoneweall”, and yet it happened nearly ninety years …

Festival Theatre 2014: The Beginnings

This post by, National Theatre Coordinator Stephen M Hornby, looks at the genesis of what we now term “Festival Theatre.” In February 2014, I produced a night of political protest plays in Manchester called “To Russia With Love: Stage”.  To mark the opening of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Manchester’s LGBT+ theatre community presented 24 hours of protest and performance to …