It is LGBT History Month 2016 and We’ll Meet In Moscow has produced two major events at the end of February to celebrate the voices emerging from the project.
Sunday 28th February
The first is a return to Plymouth’s Barbican Theatre, where we started with an LGBT History walk led by Dr Alan Butler across the city. Visiting sites of stories and historical importance to the city’s LGBT heritage.
Then back to the theatre, where in the studio at the Barbican, Pride In Plymouth Directors Alan and Mark have set up the LGBT archive in all its glory for the public to come in and experience. It is great to see it again, and that the Pride In Plymouth Exhibition is proudly on display.
We present a scratch reading of all the writing from We’ll Meet In Moscow’s central performance work in the auditorium. It is an opportunity for us to really interrogate the words I have written and hear then through the lens of a single voice.
All the clashes of types of text, the repetitions, the different forms of writing I have been exploring, to see what kind of voice is there. Is there only one? Or are there more? It is a very heightened experience listening in, whilst listening in the an audience to feel how they are listening. There are a lot of words. Probably too many.
Finally, early evening we present the six In Other Words LGBT short plays responding to Plymouth’s award winning archive. The writers are being given another opportunity to hear their work read by professional actors.
It is great to hear the changes they have made, hear new things in the plays themselves, nuances, resonances, as the actors become more familiar with the content.
Director Josie Sutcliffe has kept the focus on hearing the words and their content once again and it is a pleasure to feel them in a new way. The plays are well received and they prompt more conversations about their value and impact, possible future life.
We finish with a Pride In Plymouth LGBT quiz in the bar, testing out our knowledge on LGBT rights and key historical moments. We do okay, but could know more! I wonder how this can be taught in schools, on curriculums and why it is important to do so.
Monday 29th February
We are at Exeter’s Biked shed Theatre this evening. It is great to be bringing these lovely new plays to Exeter and to put them in front of a new audience. Testing them out in a new city is interesting as they so rooted in the archive, in Plymouth itself, let’s see if they still have the same powerful, emotional resonances. They do.
We are overwhelmed by the generous responses from the audience in the post-reading conversation. They are immediately curious about what archives can achieve and resonate, with suggestions of thinking about how to use this model as an example for other LGBT archives in the region.
These conversations with audiences are vital to our process, illuminating the work in another way. Illuminating us.
Ellie the Bikeshed’s technician has put up a rainbow flag of light at the back of the stage area, illuminating the brickwork in a new way. It is a lovely touch. An array of colours to celebrate us being there, to celebrate LGBT History Month.
We have also set up a table with the newly printed Out Of Print zine on display, with the writers available to talk to folk about their involvement and their writing. It looks lovely and the content, the writing is beautiful.
All the writers have done a really good job. We are proud of it and curious about how this might evolve in the future. We might take more of a pop up approach, but for now it is a beginning. For now we are going to go on Exeter’s Community Radio Phonic FM to discuss the writing, share it with a wider audience, and think about LGBT writers who have inspired us.
We will certainly be popping up here and there to sell the zine in various places and spaces in the future.
It is a warm and lively evening at the Bikeshed Theatre. One that feels appropriate as an ending for this part of We’ll Meet In Moscow. It is certainly a shorter journey home.
There’s lots of talk about what we can do next, but for now we will let it settle, reflect, have a wee rest from it and continue to add to our website the achievements of all involved and the stories we have heard from the people who have engaged and gotten involved.
Thanks to everyone involved in these days. It has been wonderful and affirming in many ways.
1st March 2016