Brighton’s New Writing South are presenting Hear Us Out, next month – a digital performance which draws from a diverse range of experiences. Since 2019, their team of LGBTQ+ volunteers have been collecting stories from their community across South East England. Working with a company of performers, these autobiographical tales have been woven together to create a new, digital performance – a highlight of the Hear Us Out online programme of events taking place at the end of November 2020, celebrating LGBTQ+ elders.
The programme’s Artistic Director, Dinos Aristidou, has utilised new writing and verbatim speech to create Hear Us Out, a joyful, poignant and heartfelt digital performance. Using the ‘Hear Us Out technique’ performers of all ages listen to the collected stories of older LGBTQ+ people through headphones and perform them “live” to camera, exactly as they hear them. There is no attempt to copy accents but the personalities of both performer and storyteller form a distinctive bond. The pauses, sighs, laughter, stutters and stumbles of the original recordings are embraced and preserved.
This digital celebration of LGBTQ+ life has been created with Brighton filmmakers My Genderation and composer Angèle Veltmeijer. The performance features memories of teaching during the Section 28 years and drag alter-egos, same-sex weddings and obtaining Gender Recognition Certificates, the impact of AIDS and ongoing LGBTQ+ activism – and joy. Lots and lots of joy. “I hope for a time where differences in sexuality are celebrated and not scorned or persecuted,” says Barbara, one of the storytellers. “And of course, the time for making these happen for the future is now and I want to be a part of that.”
Rehearsing and recording the LGBTQ+ cast in their own homes has added a compelling intimacy to the Hear Us Out digital performance. “Each performer transformed their personal space into a rehearsal room/zoom, stage, set and wardrobe – wonderful!” said Artistic Director, Dinos Aristidou. “We could not have planned for the closeness, the warmth, or the playfulness this glimpse into real LGBTQ+ life would add in our new digital world.”
Hear Us Out, the digital performance, premieres on Sat 28 Nov and will be available online shortly afterwards. Tickets for the premiere are free and can be booked online via www.hearusout.live
The screening forms part of a series of Hear Us Out Online Events taking place between Thurs 26 – Sun 29 Nov including Space/Walk, a new documentary centering on Black LGBTQ+ elders made by Marlborough Productions and commissioned by New Writing South specially for Hear Us Out, performances of new LGBTQ+ writing, a writing workshop led by poet Maria Jastrzębska, and an online gathering for older LGBTQ+ people and their allies.
Funded by Arts Council England and The Baring Foundation’s Celebrating Age Fund, supporting organisations to be open, positive and welcoming places for older people.
Hear Us Out
Sat 28 Nov, 6-7pm
Writer & Director: Dinos Aristidou
Filmmakers: Lewis Hancock, Fox Fisher & Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir for My Genderation
Music: Angèle Veltmeijer
Cast: Liz Armour, Gabrielle Raven Bourn, Jackie Engelberg, Katie Margaret Hall, Bob Hamilton, Janet Jones, Antony Mair, Barbara Martin, Carol Prior, Jen Purser, Persia West, Chris Williams, Sarah Windebank, Phaedon Zacharoudes.
Other Hear Us Out Programme Events:
Read Us Out, Thurs 26 Nov, 6-7pm – Digital performances of LGBTQ+ Creative Writing responding to older LGBTQ+ people’s stories.
Write It Out, Friday 27 Nov, 2-4pm – An online writing workshop led by Maria Jastrzębska for LGBTQ+ writers responding to older LGBTQ+ people’s stories.
Space/ Walk, Fri 27 Nov, 6-7pm – A short documentary by Marlborough Productions, commissioned by New Writing South especially for Hear Us Out, centring Black LGBTQ+ elders.
Hearing You Out, Sun 29 Nov, 3-5pm – An online gathering for older LGBTQ+ people and their allies to discuss the themes of the project.
New Writing South is a literary organisation for writers across southeast England offering quality training, representation, festivals and events. As well as short courses and masterclasses, they offer a range of services, including long-term mentoring and one-off, one-to-one writers’ surgeries. New Writing South is committed to nurturing an inclusive community of writers, regardless of background or previous experience. They offer bursaries for many opportunities, taking part in the TLC Free Reads scheme, running meetup groups for Black, Asian and marginalised writers. Find out more on:
Dinos Aristidou has written and directed for the stage in the UK and overseas. He was writer-in-residence at Mayflower Theatre, Southampton 2017-18 and has written for the Nuffield, Southampton and Contact, Manchester and two commissions for Forest Forge Theatre Company. He is creative learning director for UCAN Productions, working with blind and partially sighted performers and is working with Uninterrupted Theatre Collective and with Birmingham Royal Ballet on a programme for young people.
New Writing South and Dinos Aristidou’s Hear Us Out premieres on Sat 28 Nov 2020 6PM. Tickets free but booking essential via: www.hearusout.live
Top Image by © Rosie Powell