By David Sheppeard – co-artistic director of the Marlborough
For two years we have been working on New Queer on the Block a touring project to take the cutting-edge LGBTQ+ performance the Marlborough Pub & Theatre is known for to new locations across the country. We have learnt a hell of a lot about Brexit Britain, the privileges you can take to granted living in ‘gay capital’ Brighton and got to know some inspiring individuals working at the grassroots level to make queer community happen.
I grew up in Poole in Dorset and moved to Brighton in my early twenties. I quickly found my tribe at The Marlborough Pub & Theatre and for ten years we have been making LGBTQ+ culture happen in venues ranging from disused shops to concert halls. Something that always goes through my mind when we do a project is what it would have meant to access to queer culture, when I was growing up – would I have felt just that little bit less isolated & alone? LGBTQ+ artists often find it hard to tour outside of major urban centres like London, Manchester and Birmingham because it’s assumed there’s no audience demand. We designed New Queers on the Block to challenge where and how LGBTQ+ artists can tour around the UK reaching new, largely queer, audiences that would find seeing their work most valuable. Access to a culture that represents your experience is a human right.
In Feb 2020 we are bringing some of the most fantastic queer artists we have met along the way for one more trip around our fair isle, let me tell you about some of them. The tour kicks off in Brighton from Feb 6th – Sun 9th with a programme taking over the Marlborough Pub & Theatre and Attenborough Centre for Creative Arts, before travelling to Bradford, Blackpool and Hastings.
First up we have Oozing Gloop, the UK’s only green autistic drag queen. Seeing Gloop’s first performance ‘The Gloop Show’ at The Marlborough in 2018 was mind-blowing, so when we thought about commissioning a new performance for the final tour it had to be them. In Glooptopia (presented at ACCA on Sat 8th Feb 2020, 8:00pm), they invite us to consider what utopia means in a world that seems hell-bent on self-destruction.
Marikiscrycrycry is a choreographer like no other, mesmerising movement and gorgeous visuals that will live with you long after their performance ends (presented at ACCA on 9th Feb 2020, 6:00pm). In He’s Dead, their first group work, they start with the enigmatic question ‘was Tupac depressed?’ as a way of opening up deep feelings about black melancholia and mourning.
Finally, we have Subira Joy & Wandia Nduku. We first met Subira working behind the bar at the Marlborough and they have blossomed into a lyrical and fierce performance poet. In Joy Nduku (presented at The Marlborough Thursday 6 February 8:00pm) they are embarking on a first collaborative work with their sibling Wandia, the pair skewer white fragility, taking no prisoners and celebrating black queer identity.
The weekend is rounded out by a wider programme of talks, conversations and DJ sets featuring Dr Duckie Ben Walters and queer performance legend Lois Weaver, this is a weekend that will show you the vast range of distinctive LGBTQ+ talent we’ve been nurturing locally. Get those Brighton Pride feelings early this year and come and celebrate queerness with us!
New Queers On The Block comes to Brighton’s Marlborough Theatre and Attenborough Centre for the Creative Arts on Thurs 6 – Sun 9 Feb 2020