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The Boys in the Band

The Boys in the Band is known for being the "first gay play". Obviously not the first by any stretch it was however the first commercially successful, and if you will 'mainstream' gay play. It also was one of few to reach that status before the AIDS epidemic hit, and changed the gay community, and theatre by and for the gay community for the following decades.

Like 'The Destiny of Me' before it, this play was a most symbiotic addition to my trip. Having spent many years studying the use of theatre as a response to the AIDS crisis, seeing one of the few commercially and critically successful 'gay plays' to predate the crisis, and theatre that followed was very pertinent. Having traveled to see Angels in America, seeing a taste of gay theatre's trajectory before it was also a fascinating accompaniment.

The Boys in the Band was also staged in London last year, so it was with recent knowledge of a production that I went in. The play itself, as fittin…
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The Destiny of Me (The New Group Benefit Reading)

The next few blogs will be recapping my recent New York trip. None are real 'reviews' for various reasons.

The first because it was a benefit reading for The New Group. Announced just a few days before I left, and in a wildly reckless scramble for tickets I booked. A scramble from the plane, to hotel and train later was I have to say, 100% worth it. This was one of those New York Theatre nights you get once a decade, and usually by accident.

For those who maybe stumble onto this blog for this post, Kramer's work is both very significant in my professional life and linked to the reason for this trip. I wrote my PhD on theatrical responses to HIV/AIDS, and had followed 'my' Angels  (in America) to their new home on Broadway as part of the research for my book on the play. How then could I miss a chance to see Kramer's play, starring an actor from Angels, and introduced by Tony Kushner?

Larry Kramer's less known, lesser performed sequel to The Normal Heart wou…

Website Review: Seatplan

Finding theatre for theatre nerds is relatively easy; we’re plugged into sources that tell us what’s on when, who is in it and how much we’re likely to pay. We also have our favourite theatres, actors on our radar and directors we’re unlikely to miss. However, as a non-London resident I often find I miss these things, and when it comes to booking London trips- especially for friends or family- find myself scrolling through endless websites trying to find out what’s on, where and most importantly how much it will cost me. So, when asked to take a look at Seatplan’s website I was hoping to find a resource to cover all that and one I could happily send my less theatre-savvy friends and family to. It does all that and (drumroll please) also gives up to date information on the actual seats, the view and comfort.
If I’m paying West End prices for theatre, I want to know if my backside will survive the night. And if my view will be mainly of a pillar. So Seatplan could actually be the answ…

Tremor- Brad Birch- Sherman Theatre

I went to see Brad Birch’s new play Tremor at the Sherman Theatre  as a reviewer for Miro magazine. You can read my more traditional review here. For new work however, I like to spend time unpacking the play, and in particular the writing a little more. So here is my not-review of Tremor. Fair warning ‘spoilers’ ahead, perhaps save for after seeing it. The most fascinating element of watching this play for me was second guessing my own, and fellow audience member’s reactions. And judging myself accordingly. Going in knowing only a ‘tragedy’ causes a couple to reassess their situation and relationship my mind had gone to natural disaster, violent acts, end of the world scenario and yes, of course in the world we live in Terrorism. So, the slow burn of revealing the details of the event, and subsequent twist were a fascinating lead in to what had happened to this couple. The seemingly almost mundane nature of a bus accident when it is revealed is fascinating in that it showed how traged…

To Mob or not to Mob?

Ok wrong play, but the point still stands.
In one of several tweets about Julius Caesar at The Bridge theatre- all of which were positive, none of which were an in-depth review, given they were tweets- I made a comment about the use of the Mob. My comment about the Mob itself is positive- and something I planned to expand on in this, my review. It creates great atmosphere, and as I’ll expand on, I think adds much to the story. But ‘You could not pay me to be down there’ is an expression of my personal preference- and aversion to such things. I say that, because I’m not fond of crowds and I’m even less fond of loud noises. Knowing both things played into the staging beforehand, I made a decision not to buy tickets for there. So far so sensible? After the event, observing that confirmed I would not have enjoyed it, and I made a comment to that end…while also praising that kind of staging for making it a great theatrical experience.
It’s not news that Twitter sometimes fails to grasp…

My dirty love affair with the Jukebox Musical

Really excited to have my first 'Guest blogger' on this blog. My friend Nicole wrote such a fascinating post about the Jukebox musical I practically begged her to let me share here it is. If you enjoy it please let me know- I'd love Nicole to share more of her theatre thoughts with the world! 
My dirty love affair with the Jukebox Musical
Let me start with a confession: When "Mamma Mia", the mother of the modern jukebox musical, opened in 1999, I was the first one to declare how much I hated the idea of using existing pop music for a "new" musical. I was certain that "Mamma Mia" would not last long and I'd pick up some deeply discounted ticket a few months in to take a look at just how bad it was. Well, we know how that went. "Mamma Mia" became a smash hit and I was eventually persuaded by a friend who liked the show to fork out for a full-price ticket. And dang, I was greatly entertained, had a wonderful evening and came …

Diversity in Welsh Theatre...once again

This piece was written for BBC Cymru's blog in Welsh and is available here

A lack of diversity in Welsh arts is driving talent away from the country and severely limiting the work we make. But is this lack of diversity part of an underlying issue in Wales where the arts, and access to the arts, is controlled by a narrow inward-looking group afraid of change? If we take a long hard look at ourselves we know that those working in the arts in Wales still feel like they are made by a narrow group, for a narrow group. Even those who demographically belong to the same group, it’s na├»ve to say that the white middle class (often male) isn’t still the default for leaders and makers in the arts.
There is much talk of Wales as a ‘cultural centre’ and much bemoaning of the ‘London Centric’ focus of the arts. And yet, anyone seeking a career in the arts in Wales will hear more than once ‘move away’. And even if they aren’t told it directly, for many it will swiftly become the only option. And fo…