On Theatre

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Indy Lifestyle Online
In the autumn of 1979, the Royal Court discovered the potential of gay theatre. Back to back, they presented Caryl Churchill's Cloud Nine and Martin Sherman's Bent, the former returning for a second (recast) run while Bent transferred to the West End.

This burst of activity was short-lived. With the exception of the work of Sarah Daniels and Larry Kramer's polemic The Normal Heart, (cast entirely with straight actors - gays were considered to be 'too close to it'), gay theatre at the Court had a pretty low profile for the next 10 years.

When Gay Sweatshop produced Bryony Lavery's angry comedy Kitchen Matters there in 1991, the run sold out in advance. Clearly, there was an audience out there. Since then, things have looked up considerably. Phyllis Nagy's muscular Weldon Rising garnered outstanding reviews and sell-out houses, as did Kevin Elyot's My Night with Reg. Neil Bartlett and Nicolas Bloomfield's Night after Night proved that gay theatre did not begin and end with scripts. Then MSM brought DV8's distinctive brand of physical theatre to the venue, and now Edward Lam (below) arrives with Scenes from a Men's Changing Room, inspired by David Hockney, Dorian Gray, Bach and men's changing rooms.

The bad news is that none of this was commissioned by the theatre. Exciting though this work is, there is an air of gloom about the building as it seems in danger of turning into a receiving house.

What has happened to the policy of commissioning and nurturing new writers?

(Photograph omitted)

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