University of Exeter: Help develop powerful new Exeter play about LGBTQIA+ loneliness at new community events

Community events this autumn will offer the chance for participants to develop their creative writing skills, as well as exploring their own and historical experiences of loneliness and belonging.

The free workshops are for LGBTQIA+ people living in the South West and will be run in collaboration with the regional charity the Intercom Trust.

The new play, about the complex issue of LGBTQIA marginalisation and loneliness, will be co-created by people living in the South West. Mistreatment and exclusion have often meant LGBTQIA communities have made their own spaces for solidarity, creativity, and dialogue.

It is hoped the workshops will create intergenerational friendships and solidarity, and a new heritage of LGBTQIA stories which will be shared through the performance.

The play will be written by playwright Natalie McGrath following the series of creative workshops.

Natalie will help participants to explore their creativity through short writing exercises, and the contributions will be used in the development of “The Beat of Our Hearts”, which will be staged at the Northcott Theatre in Exeter in LGBT+ history month, February 2022.

The LGBTQIA+ Loneliness and Belonging Discussion Workshop series is part of ‘The Beat of Our Hearts: Staging New Histories of LGBTQIA Loneliness’, a project funded by the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Arts Council England, and led by researchers based at the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at the University of Exeter.

This project is led by Dr Charlotte Jones (PI) and Dr Richard Vytniorgu in collaboration with Natalie McGrath, Dr Fred Cooper, Intercom Trust, and Exeter’s Northcott Theatre, and supported by Exeter City of Literature.

Natalie said: “LGBTQIA+ stories have historically been erased or silenced due to hatred, ignorance and prejudice, whilst structural legislation and lack of rights have caused harm to many lives. This opportunity to explore some of the pivotal moments in LGBTQIA+ history through the lens of loneliness will enable an exciting new play to emerge for an ensemble of LGBTQIA+ performers in the future life of the project.”

Those who take part in the workshops will be given £30 after each workshop to thank them for their time, and they will also receive a free ticket to the play in Exeter in 2022.

Everyone based in the South West who is over 26, and identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans/non-binary, queer, asexual and/or intersex are welcome at the workshops. Participants who are over 60 are especially encouraged to respond.

Workshops will take place on Zoom on Tuesday evenings from 6pm to 8pm on 5th, 12th and 19th October, with a maximum of 10 participants.