LGBTQ+ Representation in Theatre: A Chat With Full Disclosure Theatre

Bored of seeing the same heterosexual narrative on stage? Read our Editor Jennifer  Richards’ Q&A with Full Disclosure Theatre to find out how they’re working to correct that…

As a LGBTQ+ theatre maker, getting to see queer characters on stage for the first time made my cry, as I finally saw someone like me reflected in the characters I watch. Yet it took till I turned 20 for me to experience that.

It’s vital that everybody gets their story told, and Full Disclosure Theatre are a company committed to telling these LGBTQ+ narratives that are so sorely missing.

I got the chance to catch up with their Artistic Directors, Chris Davis and Sam Luffman, to learn more about the company and their work.

Beth Eyre and Roseanna Frascona performing in ‘Gold star’ at Disclosure Theatre’s last scratch night

Q & A with Full Disclosure Theatre

JR: Why did you decide to create Full Disclosure Theatre?

SL: There is strong LGBTQ+ work that is being staged and the platform for that is great, but there is a diverse community amongst that, that we feel lack representation on stage.

The stories about the queer experience that haven’t be told yet or we rarely see on stage, are the stories that we are most interested in. And with Full Disclosure Theatre we hope to give playwrights the platform to share them.

It is also rare to find New Writing Nights dedicated to plays with a LGBTQ+ focus, which is also partly how Full Disclosure Theatre came about.

JR: Why do you think it is so necessary to tell LGBTQ+ stories?

CD: LGBTQ+ people will always be a minority, so it’s important to maintain strong representation of our community by telling these kind of stories.

This can help inspire, educate and hopefully entertain audiences and also provide a platform for LGBTQ+ artists to collaborate and vocalise things that might otherwise remain unsaid.

Plus, our family and friends, who may not identify as queer, still want to understand us better and be part of our lives.

Hassan Gavia and Josh Enright performing in ‘Pray your wings will carry you’ at Disclosure Theatre’s last scratch night
JR: You recently put on a scratch night of LGBTQ+ stories. What was the reaction to this night like?
SL: We were really pleased with audience reaction and the reviews. We felt people realised that there are so many types of LGBTQ+ stories still to be told, and enjoyed the mix of positive messages and the more humbling moments that highlighted ongoing concerns within the community.
Some feedback suggested that we could have been more diverse in terms of the ages represented on stage and variation of cultures. We hope to address the age representation more so in our next night, as well as a story that tackles the issue of class.
However ultimately, there is only so much you can do in one night of eight stories. Hopefully we can continue to find more diverse and untold stories as we continue into 2018.
JR: What advice would you give to LGBTQ+ playwrights who are struggling to get their stories on stage?
CD: Going to see lots of theatre and reading as many plays as you can is a great place to start. It’s important writers understand where they fit in within this mass mix of stories, and hopefully this will help them see what is unique and new about their story.
As a company, we want to stage stories that offer a new perspective or character or concern that isn’t being seen rather than a rehash of what has come before. The next step is to send to as many places as you can to get your work staged, in whatever capacity. There are a few opportunities for this, particularly in London with New Writing Nights.
Feedback is also really key, firstly from close confidantes whose opinions you respect and trust. But also from people who you don’t think are going to see things the same way as you. We believe the combination of the two really helps writers gain clarity and inspire new ideas.
JR: How can we make the theatre industry a more inclusive one?
SL: We feel there has been a real push for BAME and LGTBQ+ artists within the theatre industry in the last few years, which is fantastic and essential. But there isn’t always a direct correlation with the amount of opportunities given to individuals from lower income backgrounds.
This starts with education and nurturing young people in schools through theatre and the performing arts. Encouraging the next generation to share their stories and to be more involved is essential to a more inclusive industry of the future. Opportunities can be hard to find, but also the idea of making your own opportunities need to be encouraged more.
Jack O’Neil performing in ‘Fluid’ at Disclosure Theatre’s last scratch night
Full Disclosure’s next scratch night, XPOSED, is running at Southwark Playhouse on February 11. You can get tickets here.

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