THE CONVERT | London, Above The Stag Theatre

Recommended

Ben Kavanagh’s chilling new play explores the resources we need to endure catastrophe through an alternate reality where our greatest fears are endemic and enduring.

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You said The Convert is the “maddest” thing you’ve ever written. Is it really?

I think so. I mean, it feels very much like a play that exists in an alternate world, both in terms of its actual content, and also its form and structure. There’s only three characters, but there’s constant references to a wider society which gives it this epic feel. It’s also got some pretty dramatic set pieces, but I won’t ruin it with spoilers!

How did the project come about?

The play is part of a larger season at the Above The Stag Theatre — the UK’s only full time LBGTQ+ theatre — called CONTACT, which is essentially a festival of new and challenging work. Each company has been given free rehearsal space and a five-night run to realise their ideas and bring them to the stage. I’m thrilled to be back working with director Gene David Kirk, whose previous work at the Stag has been particularly successful, and with us for the journey are two extremely talented actors in James Phoon and Olly Roy — it’s an exciting prospect going back into the rehearsal room with such a strong team.

Why gay conversion therapy?

In fact, The Convert started life as a monologue in BODY POLITIC. Gene approached me about the season at the Stag in March of 2021, and asked if I had any ideas: I suggested this monologue could have the dramatic potential for expanding into a full-length play. As we chatted, the world of the monologue seemed to blend perfectly with a conversation that was being had in the wider media at the time, the legislating against gay conversion therapy – i.e. the ridiculous time it was taking to ban it!

What can audiences expect on the night?

I know the main thrust of the play is set against the backdrop of conversion therapy, but I think, like all good theatre, at its root, it’s a play about love, and in particular, enduring love. So I’d certainly expect that. As for the rest – well, we’ve not started rehearsals yet, and the entire play could be rewritten after the first day of rehearsals, as is so often the case. So much of the writing process relies on hearing the actors speak the lines, and gaining the insight of the director in how the story is coming together – as a writer, sometimes you are too close to the play to have that kind of perspective. Collaboration breeds a kind of openness in the room that nearly always results in a clearer direction for the story. It’s thrilling! They say good plays aren’t written, they are rewritten; well, if that’s the case then sign me up!

Playing 23 – 27 June 2021 at the Above The Stag Theatre in Vauxhall.

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COMPANY | Hong Kong, Sha Tin Town Hall

Recommended

Sondheim’s groundbreaking 1970 musical comedy is coming to Hong Kong in a brand new Cantonese translation by Jacob Yu and Wong Ming Lok. The musical revolves around Bobby, a single man who is unable to commit fully to a steady relationship — let alone marriage. The five married couples who are his best friends, and his three girlfriends, all come together in a celebration for Bobby’s 35th birthday.

As well as the main translator, Jacob Yu also directs and produces, and set designs too. Stoa Lau is the Music Director and Sound Designer, with lighting by Ivan Chen and costumes by Shybil Yuen, in addition to choreography by Nikki Ng. The cast includes: Amanda Lee, Peco Chui, Andrew Cheung, Beilosi Fung, Margaret Cheung, Sung Boon Ho, Lan Chun Chun, Tunes Ting, SiuLung Wong, Joanna Ko, Billy Yip, Vivian Chan, Tony Li, Terrence Leung.

The original Broadway production was nominated for a record-setting fourteen Tony Awards, and won Best Musical. Many of the songs have passed into musical theatre legend, including: “Being Alive”; “Side By Side” and “You Could Drive A Person Crazy”. The current gender-flipped production in London’s West End is also nominated for many awards.

Don’t miss the chance to experience this hilarious, punchy musical about love and relationships in Cantonese.

Book online at Urbtix until 24 February 2019. Check out Theatre Space’s Facebook page for more information.

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CIRCA | London, Old Red Lion Theatre

Recommended

After premiering with a cast of twelve at the Theatre de Meervaart, Amsterdam in 2016, followed by an acclaimed run with a cast of seven at The Vaults in London, Tom Ratcliffe’s company work.Theatre returns in a co-production with Harlow Playhouse.

“I can’t wait to be bringing Circa back this year for a longer run in London, and then to Harlow,” says Ratcliffe of his debut play. “The play has become even more topical over the past two years, and loneliness amongst the gay community is something that needs to be spoken about. The play has developed over the past two years and it’s something I cannot wait to share with everyone.”

In the 21st century, being gay is supposedly more integrated than ever: marriage is legal, parenthood is possible, and #LoveWins is trending on Twitter. But in a world where sex is readily available, what does it mean to be in a gay relationship in the modern age? And why are so many gay men still lonely?

Circa explores the blurred identity of the gay relationship in the modern age. Following the story of one man’s romantic life, we are taken through the different relationships and encounters he experiences over a period of thirty years, joining him through the joys and pitfalls of love.

Book online at www.oldredliontheatre.co.uk. Tickets from £12.

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INTERVIEW: SARA DEE

Interview

 

Sara Dee has been described as “a hybrid of Patsy Cline and Madeleine Peyroux”. The L.A. based singer-songwriter talked to The Prickle about her new Christmas single, ‘Christmas in California’.

 

How did you get into singing and songwriting?

Sara Dee: Growing up there was always music on in my house — a pretty balanced diet of oldies, rock ‘n’ roll, standards, and classical.  I always gravitated toward music, and as a kid would stay in my room for hours, teaching myself instruments, and analyzing my favourite songs.  So I suppose the singing and songwriting came as a natural part of my obsession with imitating what I admired.

What inspires you to write?

Sara Dee: I love to write about conflict. And love! Really I find inspiration in anything I’m willing to pay close attention to. But conflict and love are pretty powerful motivators.

Who are your musical heroes?

Sara Dee: There’s so many; if I have to make a short list: Tom Waits, Johnny Cash, Beach Boys, Queen, Ella Fitzgerald, Over the Rhine, Lianna LaHavas, Dr. John, Janelle Monet. I mean, I could go on…

Tell us about your new single.

Sara Dee: I wrote ‘Christmas in California’ basically in one sitting, which doesn’t always happen. It was Christmastime; I was on my bed looking out my window; and it looked like summer outside. I felt no ‘holiday spirit’, and honestly, it was kind of sad! I love the subtle rushes of holiday magic, and when I looked around I didn’t see one sign of winter or Christmas. That’s when the lyric, “Christmas is a state of mind”, popped into my brain. From there, I just started thinking about all the imagery of experiencing winter in an endless summer town. And really, the hardest part about that was whittling down which ones to leave in — there are so many! And it was also a great way to pay some hommage to my city of Los Angeles.

What’s next for Sara Dee?

Sara Dee: A couple more singles before the big album in February 2019, In Joy, Vol. 2. It’s my third full-length album, and I’m really excited about it! But first, this is the perfect time of year to check out my Christmas single.

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