Monthly Archives: June 2013

Turning points

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Last Saturday’s workshop was a privilege. After a gruelling week with not such brilliant sleep (during the week) I thought I might be running on empty by Saturday afternoon. However I did sleep reasonably well the night before.  On the day, it was cloudy with breaks of sunshine and a peculiar curving wind. I was calmly excited with anticipation for the workshop.

In terms of numbers it was modest and this did allow for more in-depth interaction and openness amongst the participants. The group was bold, generous and authentic, in fact even nurturing towards each other. My beloved Abhi participated too on this occasion, which was very useful in receiving a no holds barred critique afterwards. His comments were wholly positive.

Carl’s writing exercise is quite powerful. He takes you back to a significant turning point in your life making it vivid through his prompts – the use of senses, the time of year and day and so on. The group were scattered across the room busy writing: some on chairs, others laying on the floor or perched on the steps. Afterwards we sat in a circle and each shared an extract with the group. Here’s one from the session – an imagined letter to a father:

Dear Dad,

2007. December, Boxing Day.

You’re in India.

We’ve had dinner. Eastenders is on in the background. Half-heartedly we’re watching.

I had planned it this way, as you were away, so that I had mum to myself.

In theory, the plan was to tell her, and then you.

She thought I was joking…that it was an excuse not to get married.

“No, I’m gay!”

Apparently she was clueless. But what about mums knowing their sons and all that? What about the Gay Times incident at 16…?

Arena workshop participant – 22 June 2013.

Do you have a turning point to share?

Not so many hours to go…

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I’m looking forward to tomorrow afternoon: getting down to Wolverhampton and running a workshop session with Carl Miller. I’m anticipating new people, voices and ideas to discover… 
British Asian lesbian and gay lives

Newcastle Gateshead – the great north!

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Memories of Newcastle Martin Stuart MooreA few weeks ago I was in Newcastle (and Gateshead) for a day of meetings for Beneath the Surface. I set off early on a beautiful clear day driving north. The sky was bright, in fact crystalline. Driving through North Yorkshire, along the A1 it was bare, remote and unspoilt. I suddenly felt a love for the barren and sparsely populated landscape compared to the ever-crowed populous south.

This was only my third trip to the region and second to the city. Whilst driving, I was aware that my feelings for the place were romantic, somewhat idealised… informed by my limited contact with the place and an exoticism, that is the power of the new. I have always found, perhaps like many others do too, new towns, cities and places highly stimulating. There is an immense freedom (for the senses) in discovering something new.

I can recall the first time I came out of Birmingham New St Station via the Pallasades ramp and was presented with tall city centre buildings; skyscrapers to my 14-year old innocence. I rushed with euphoria down my spine as I looked towards the sky, stimulated by these man-made structures.

Twenty-four years later I wasn’t quite rushing… The River Tyne was wider than I anticipated; consequently the Tyne Bridge more expansive, one foot firmly rooted in Gateshead and the other in  Newcastle. Gateshead Millennium Bridge - ambitious regeneration

I first met with Vikas Kumar the Director of GEM Arts based at The Old Town Hall, Gateshead. Vic is working with me as the key arts partner in the area. He’s always shown great enthusiasm and energy for the project because he gets it and can see its potential.

Together we then met with Stephen Greenwood and Janet Owen of MESMAC North East who made us feel very welcome over a tasty cuppa. We got the lowdown on the LGBT health sector including some of the key challenges in the city region and neighbouring boroughs.

We met with Gez Casey, the Literary Manager of Live Theatre in the afternoon and had a quick tour of the building. Live Theatre is a new writing producing theatre. It was founded as a radical theatre company with a strong regional identity; making work about working class communities and taking the work out to pubs and clubs.

We then went to Pride Café in the so-called Pink Triangle – LGBT area of Newcastle – and met with John Harrison, the proprietor. Pride Café is a bar with community room upstairs. The bar downstairs runs as a commercial business. It has another arm, the NGS Trust which exists to offer an alternative to the commercial gay scene with an interest in community development. I’m planning on presenting my workshop performance with dramatic monologues in the community room later in the year.

At the end of the day, Vic and I then went back to the office and had a post-meetings debrief. It’s always more useful to meet folk in person and see them in their habitat where possible. By the end of this day, the romanticised notion of Newcastle was becoming more tangible, at least in relation to the project’s parameters.

LGBT Sandwell CELEBRATION dAY!

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SandwellLGBTCelebrationJoin Sandwell LGBT communities and their friends on 20th June at Smethwick Library with special guest Damian Barr.

Smethwick Library’s a late Victorian building on the High Street. SmethwickLibrary

We ran many a session there during my BCT days for local communities.

Dance Opportunity with DV8

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I was first introduced to DV8 and Lloyd Newson with the film Dead Dreams of Monochrome Men during my first year at university. It was dark, mysterious, beautiful and eerie. Even as a 19-year old teen I immediately recognised the hidden language of cruising in one of the first scenes – dialogue through eye contact and body language – as it was something I was familiar with.  It was an empowering experience to watch a dance film with homoerotic themes so publicly, with my peers – a lecture room full of Related Arts students.

Strange Fish took the work to another level for me.  It used stylised movement exploring the rules of social interaction, loneliness and courtship accompanied with a powerfully evocative soundscore by Jocelyn Pook and Adrian Johnston; singing by Lauren Potter and Dale Tanner. The performers included Kate Champion, Wendy Houstoun, Jordi Cortes Molina and the inimitable Nigel Charnock, amongst others.

And after this male solo in The Cost of Living, I never looked at Cher, quite again in the same way and was a convert to Believe.

DV8 is currently looking for male dancers of all ages and shapes. The only criteria being a strong dance technique. London auditions 8 – 9 June; Amsterdam 29 – 30 June. Watch the video!

The man in the video extract has such dancing personality. He’s too alive for the rest!

Rally for Marriage Equality / Lobby a Lord

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Rally for marriage equality organised by the Peter Tatchell Foundation opposite House of Commons on Monday 3 June. 

Or if unable to make it lobby a Lord over the next couple of days.

Let’s not assume victory. More can be done even at this hour.