Superbia Spotlights: Poet, Performer and Storyteller – Roma Havers

Creator of the ‘Had Matters’ Tea Party’ - a funny and clever delve into a very queer Wonderland-inspired adventure…

Superbia is Manchester Pride’s year-round programme of arts and culture, designed to support, curate, fund and promote LGBTQ+ events throughout Greater Manchester. As one of the UK’s leading LGBTQ+ charities, it campaigns for LGBTQ+ equality, celebrates LGBTQ+ life and creates opportunities that engage LGBTQ+ people in Greater Manchester so that they can thrive.

Superbia supports LGBTQ+ artists by promoting events through its events page and social media, funds LGBTQ+ events with Superbia Grants and by curating original events through collaboration with partners, venues, groups, curators, community members, artists and creatives.

Roma Havers is a poet, performer, and an exciting new talent in theatre, bringing humour and a love of adventurous language to her confessional story-telling work.

Roma responded to our artist call-out to produce one of our new micro-commissions for the Superbia Spotlights series. The resulting audio play, in which she voices all of the characters, is titled ‘Had Matters’ Tea Party’ and is a funny and clever delve into a very queer Wonderland-inspired adventure…

But first we caught up with Roma to find out more about her.

Hello Roma, thanks for being part of Superbia Spotlights. Can you introduce yourself and your creative practice to us?

I’m Roma, I’m a poet, theatre-maker and tiger-mum-editor. I love to make ‘meaning’ work a bit harder than it wants to. At the moment my work revolves around the questions of queer inheritance, what happens after survival and what does it mean to decipher a myth with no origin?

I’m currently working on a novel about living in a snowglobe, a poetry collection about the future of foundlings and a show about being excellent at swingball, plus as always, working with the collective that made me possible Young Identity, who commissioned me back in 2016 when I only had a terrible lesbian Disney princesses poem to my name.

You’re currently developing a new solo show called LOB, what’s that about and when can we see it performed?

Thanks for asking! LOB is a tennis poetry bonanza, about moving through sporting spaces as queer bodies, how my grandma thought I was going to be the next Tim Henman because I was left-handed, and general waltzing around a swingball set. It includes original music from Donna Loman and a ghost appearance from Toupie Lowther.

We just got our arts council funding this week so can confirm the full show will be ready for Queer Contact February 2021 and hopefully touring across 2021 if you miss it then! We have a lead up digital event Link Up where myself and Frankie Blaus my editing partner will discuss dramaturgy.

Your new commission for Superbia Spotlights is called ‘Had Matters’ Tea Party’, a joyful comic re-imagining of – you guessed it – The Mad Hatter’s Tea Party from Alice in Wonderland. What drew you to this as a source of inspiration and what goes on in your version of this famous scene?

I am always drawn to Alice in Wonderland for its relationship to nonsense, something I’m quite fond of, and also how language works as an entrypoint to communities. I’ve been thinking lots about stable identities being an expectation upon entering queer community, and as people increasingly come out younger and more people feel comfortable to do so, that worries me.

What a place to feel limited to comprehensibility. Also I felt like there’s so much pressure to explain yourself and I find lots of comfort as well as joy in messy meaning making and puns.

“ there seems to be a genuine sense of community, across form, across style and across experience, there’s so much space for exciting collaborations and support for one another.”

What are your thoughts on the LGBTQ creative scene in Manchester? What’s good, what’s exciting, what’s missing, what do we need more of?

I am so excited that, partly with things like the Queer Artist Talking Circle, there seems to be a genuine sense of community, across form, across style and across experience, there’s so much space for exciting collaborations and support for one another.

Across all marginalised groups, and I see this a lot with young writers I work with, there is a mounting pressure to be representative, or tick a box. And to me queer arts is something beyond individuals, it’s a different way of doing things; so I think we need more space to be radical, more joy, less trauma with no care. And less rhetoric of ‘Be yourself’ which shouldn’t be a requirement to know yet, but ‘Make what you want to make’. A bit more Un-ness.

Thank you Roma!

Now enjoy Roma’s new work for Superbia Spotlights, Had Matters’ Tea Party.

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