Yuletide Queers!

November 24, 2010

Christmas is just around the corner and what better way to mark the gayest of seasons then to stuff the Project Arts Centre full of some yuletide queer. Queer Notions is a specifically curated festival of queer ideas and performances, that is multi disciplinary and more aggressive in its outlook than its predecessors. Coming on the back of The Dublin Gay Theatre Festival and the Absolut Gay Theatre Festival (where the organisers of each took a stab at theatrical spot the difference) the Queer Notions Festival is the brain child of Thisispopbaby founder Philly McMahon. You need three points for a triangle, three wise men for your manger and three goals for a hatrick. But tell us Philly, why does Dublin need a third gay theatre festival?

“We explore the idea of Queer beyond sexuality” he says. “It’s built as a platform for outsiders. We’ve got so many friends who have grown up in the city and lived their life on the outside who are not gay who suddenly go ‘Wait a minute. I’m an outsider. I’m a Queer as well. Include me’”.

It showcases  a culture not just stories of  gay life, by gay people. “It’s politicised by the very nature of the issues it covers. What it is to be a citizen in this country. As the Celtic Tigers crap is washed away people are becoming more creative in there everyday lives. Challenging the status quo. “

From the get go it was clear to Philly that they had to encourage and promote Irish performers to make up for the fact that there is no real gay theatre scene in this country. “A lot of it is just drag and it is confined to the bars. So with our first festival last year we took Panti out of the bar context and put her in a theatre so we could really hear for the first time EVERYTHING that she had to say. We gave her a platform and a context.”

This year the festival has gathered an array of talent at the forefront of the emerging Irish Queer Theatre. Marc O Halloran breaks a ten-year playwriting silence with his play Trade which explores the relationship between a 50-year old business man and a rent boy he picks up on Gardiner Street; Una McKevitt continues to expound her preferred documentary theatre format with Big Deal which is based on the Email correspondence between two pre op transsexuals while Neil Watkins presents his “Year of Magical Wanking” which explores the uniquely Irish guilt that comes with being an Irish gay.

Among the international highlights are Peggy Shaw, a 63-year-old grandmother who dresses and looks like Sean Penn who has spent her whole life walking the streets of New York dressed in this way coming up against obstacles because of her appearance and Eddie Ladd, a Welsh drag lesbian who gives us a show about Bobby Sands, telling the 66 days of his hunger strike while running on a treadmill.

“These are real Irish stories that people haven’t wanted to hear. Now they do want to hear them. There is a hunger for this type of work in the city. When you go to the UK and America you see a lot of these performers who are living on the outside and showing through their work how they live. In Ireland we have similar artists and that’s what we want to do.

7 – 11 December 2010

Project Arts Centre, Dublin 2.

Tickets €4 – €14 // Festival Pass €60


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