The issues and challenges around gender and sexual identity are coming into sharp focus this autumn with the debut Creative Matters season at Norwich Theatre Royal.
A mix of performances, installations, activities and events will be held at the theatre’s learning and participation centre Stage Two.
The idea is to stimulate discussion while putting key areas of day-to-day life into sharp focus.
It will begin with Our Voices, a two-day exhibition in the building on Friday 8 and Saturday 9 September to officially launch the month of events.
This will include Sewgay which will display its patchwork quilt which documents LGBTQ history, the Sing With Pride choir which is open to everyone in the LGBTQ community and their family and friends, and Out140 which is a project which lets ordinary people tell their coming out stories in 140 characters or less.
Classic movie The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen Of The Desert will be screened on Wednesday 13 September. Packed with some of the most iconic songs from the pop world, it tells the story of drag queen Anthony, cross-dresser Adam and transsexual Bernadette who jump aboard a bus to take them on a tour of remote Australian communities. It turns out to be a journey in more ways than one as the trio find out more about themselves and their friendship.
Rubber Ring takes centre-stage on Friday 15 September and tells the story of sexually confused 16-year-old Jimmy who feels he is stuck in Sheringham. When he finds out his musical idol Morrissey is heading to London, he decides to head to the capital to find his hero and himself.
The semi-autobiographical play is penned by writer and playwright James McDermott who will also star in it. He said: “Growing up queer in rural Norfolk wasn’t just hard because the only places to explore were rock pools but because Norfolk and rural LGBTQ stories were rarely represented on stage and so I felt like a ghost no one believed in.
“I wrote Rubber Ring to help me and rural LGBTQ audiences feel less invisible and better understand our lives and to help non-rural non-LGBTQ audiences better understand rural LGBTQ life.”
There is a chance to see the movie The Danish Girl on Sunday 24 September which tells the remarkable love story of Lili Elbe and Gerda Wegener, played by Eddie Redmayne and Alicia Vikander respectively. It sees how their love and work evolves as Lili begins to realise that he identifies more as a woman.
Also confirmed for September 27 is an appearance by the critically-acclaimed theatre company Rhum and Clay who will bring their exploration of masculine identity to the stage in TESTOSTERONE. It tells the story of Kit who enters a male gym changing room for the first time a year after receiving his first injection of testosterone.
While it is an average day for everyone else, it marks the beginning of an urgent search for Kit to discover what it means to be a man.
This comical piece of physical theatre aims to bring the issue of masculine identity into sharp focus both for the lead character and for men in general.
The season will also feature a brand new piece of drama which will be cast and produced locally, and then performed in the Stage Two auditorium, and the theatre’s learning and participation team also hope to add education projects and workshops to the project.
Stephen Crocker, chief executive of Norwich Theatre Royal, is very excited about this strand of artistic and community engagement work. He said: “The Creative Matters seasons are about providing a platform and safe space in the heart of our city for people of all ages to explore and engage with key issues through the power of creativity. We have purposefully chosen gender and sexual identity as the inspiration for our first season. This is an issue that touches us all, is still hugely relevant in society today and has been the stimulus for some incredible and profound artistic work.”
The debut Creative Matters season begins at Stage Two on 8 September, and tickets are available now.