The theatre company behind on-stage hit #BeMoreMartyn, Hive North has announced the winners of its new writing showcase OutStageUs that will debut at The Lowry theatre from Friday 14 – Saturday 15 July.
The 10 winners, which include award-winning actors, performers and published authors, are aged between 21 and 63 and hail from the North West, York and Birmingham. Over 150 scripts were submitted for the new creative initiative, which aims to shed a light on the incredibly talented writers and creatives within the LGBTQ+ community.
Joined by a panel of readers, Hive North artistic director Adam Zane narrowed the entries down to just 20 from which the final 10 were then selected. All 10 of the chosen plays will be staged across two nights in summer at Salford Quays’ Lowry Theatre.
Zane said: “We were thrilled by the number of entries we received this year and really impressed by the standard and variety of writing. Our final selection represents a completely broad spectrum of the LGBTQ+ community with diverse themes such as access to queer spaces for disabled queer people, asexuality, ageing in the LGBTQ+ community, consent and non-binary self-discovery.
“It is so exciting to hear new voices share their own personal stories of the LGBTQ+ experience and we are really proud to be able to give them a platform on which to share their truths and their words. We cannot wait to see them come to life on The Lowry stage next month.”
The first of the 10 plays to debut in July is Deranged by Rav Bansal. The production explores themes of cultural expectations in British Indian families, as well as self-love, identity and acceptance. Bansal is an award-nominated broadcaster, writer and activist whose podcast Do You Wear That In The Shower has also been nominated for several awards for highlighting the queer South Asian experience.
Homegrown Manchester performer Mitesh Soni will perform his compelling monologue Twenty, a show about content and respect in queer relationships. His acting credits range from The Play What I Wrote to Eastenders, and, as a writer his work includes Brit Bred (part of the Box of Tricks 2021/2 Playbox cohort) and Pricky (Tribe Arts Theatre).
KT Miles explores themes of identity, transformation, love and memory from the perspective of a non-binary person in If I Ever See Her Again. Most recently, Miles has written and produced (In) Good Spirits for VAULT Festival 2023, and they were also long-listed for the 2022 Bruntwood Prize for Playwriting.
Liverpool’s Izzy Campbell’s Out Out was also selected for the 2023 OutStageUs showcase. It looks at self-expression and sexuality as each battle societal norms. Campbell trained in theatre at Salford University and has contributed creatively to various Liverpool and Manchester based theatre companies including Contact and 20 Stories High.
The fifth script comes from Saskia Pay. The Sweet Shop Lament is a daring and humorous poetic exploration of the intricacies of erotic fantasies. Pay is an actor and writer originally from South Wales who is now based in Manchester since graduating from LIPA with a BA in Acting. Her writing credits include a rap series for BBC Bitesize, sketches for BBC Sesh and music for All Things Considered.
Salford-based writer Connor Cooper brings Shrink/Grow to The Lowry this July, too. The play is a compassionate and insightful performance that presents an intimate exploration of a first date between an able-bodied person and a person with a disability. A Second Chance by Roo Pilkington is another performance heading to The Lowry. This focuses on the life of Estelle, a sex-worker who finds herself faced with a new, unexpected client, who seeks to explore her hidden sexuality.
The eighth script chosen for the OutStageUs showcase is from York-based writer Rian Craske. It’s a compelling one man show that portrays the struggle and resilience of a young trans man navigating his journey towards self-actualisation. Craske graduated with an MA in Playwriting and has produced, written and acted in work for multiple student theatre companies as an undergraduate.
Luke Elliott was also selected for the OutStageUs showcase with The Right One, an emotional journey that offers a deep and often overlooked perspective on asexuality. It challenges the concept of ‘normalcy’ and societal expectations around romantic relationships and sexuality. Elliott is a British-Jamaican actor and writer from Birmingham who co-wrote and performed in Buried History (The Play House) in 2017. He has also written children’s books and theatre reviews for Media Diversified and The Understudy.
The final play Kray to Crone is a poignant monologue reflecting on the changing times and spaces for the LGBTQ+ community by Lel Meleyal. It captures the journey of a seasoned lesbian from an era of fighting for survival and visibility, to the seemingly ungrateful ease with which the younger generation takes up the space once fought for. Meleyal is a self confessed “63 year old, working class, disabled, lesbian”. All are important aspects of her identity and writing. Her first novel ‘Everyday Wendy’ was published in 2022. She lives in Scarborough with her wife and pup.
As well as seeing their work performed on stage by a professional cast and creative team for OutStageUs 2023 – following a bespoke development process – the successful 10 writers will also be paid a fee of £350.
OutStageUs heads to The Lowry from 14 – 15 July.