Back in December last year a conscientious final year student from a North West university got in touch who was intrigued by the project and wanted to get involved in some way. He went onto support the project by doing some media research earlier in the year. He’s an aspiring/growing theatre maker. He’s now engaged on the project as a graduate placement so that he can be immersed in all that happens in the rehearsal studio this week and the delivery for two weeks afterwards.
I’ll let him speak for himself…
Where to start? I often find beginnings the hardest. Beginning a blog; beginning the process of creating a piece of theatre; you have so many ideas and expectations and no way of knowing how they’re going to pan out. Let’s start with introductions. My name is Rob Beck (that’s me in the picture…yay!!) and this is, or will be my contribution to the project blog that will track the journey undertaken by a group of intrepid theatre makers as they devise, rehearse and showcase a piece of theatre that will explore the relatively unheard stories of lesbian, gay and bisexual (LGB) Asians living in the UK. As a piece, it aims to shed light on these lives, the sorts of prejudices they come up against, and how their own sense of sexual, religious and cultural identity is influenced.
So how did I come to work on this project? Well, as a gay man living in the UK, you might say I’ve picked quite a good time to live my life. LGBT rights, The Equal Marriage Act, general equality and tolerance are better now than they have ever been. Yet I can’t help but feel what if I didn’t have the support of my family? What if I risked losing all my friends if I were to tell them how I really felt? What if the culture I had grown up in was less tolerant of my choices? I don’t actually know how well I’d cope when faced with all that pressure.
Now obviously I’m not Asian (the picture should be a pretty good indicator of that fact) but I do have some very close friends who are. My best friend growing up was an Indian Sikh. When I came out back in 2010 he was incredibly supportive but I do think it was a bit of a culture shock to him and even now my sexuality isn’t something we discuss at any great length. Another one of my very close friends is a girl who I met at university. Another Indian Sikh, she’s one of the funniest most uplifting people I know. She’s also a lesbian and proud of it too! It was having friends like her in my first term at uni that made it so easy to finally accept who I was and to come out. Yet amazingly, her sexuality is still something she has to hide at home. A couple of years ago there was a scare that her parents might try to force her into a marriage and even now she has to watch what she says online in case it somehow gets back to them. The fact that someone so strong and confident in every aspect of her life should have to hide anything was truly astounding. Having friends like these made me begin to think about the taboos that still exist in some cultures in the UK. How someone like my friend from uni copes with the constant juggling of her family life with her actual life or the reasons why I’m so lucky to still have my best friend from school when he might potentially have discarded me. This was why I got involved with Beneath the Surface and is why I will be contributing to the blog over the next few weeks as the work develops from page to stage.
As well as blogging, I’ll be helping out with the creative side of things too. I expect to have my assumptions about different cultures challenged and there will probably be parts of the show that I find quite difficult to work on. The script has been developed using real stories of LGB Asian people in the UK and therefore I am expecting some pretty poignant stuff. I’m excited, but also nervous to begin working on something that has the potential to be very powerful. The process is going to be an incredibly interesting one and I’m looking forward to sharing it with you. I should also warn you that I will be doing a lot of travelling for this show and there may be a fair amount of complaining about traffic jams and late running trains…just so you know! Anyway, that’s the introductions done. Until the next time – stay fabulous!