“I want to make this conversation ordinary. So that for the next generation coming through, if somebody says, I’m gay, everybody will say, so what?”
Midlands Arts Centre (MAC), in association with SHOUT Festival, present a first viewing of filmed extracts of a verbatim theatre project for SHOUT: AT HOME 2020, which documents the lived experiences of gay men in two diverse cities across the hemisphere – Birmingham, UK and Johannesburg, South Africa. The event will be free to join online at 3pm on Saturday 14 November 2020.
The 35-minute work-in-progress event highlights a few of stories of love, hope, prejudice, joy, discovery, hurt, sex, pain, and bravery that make up the In Our Skin verbatim play that will be staged at MAC in 2022.
Celebrated South African-born theatre director, playwright, and academic, Greg Homann, is leading the project. Homann began gathering the stories of gay men living in Johannesburg in December 2017. He interviewed 17 cisgender men between the ages of 22 and 59, recording over 30 hours of conversation. The participants there represented a broad cross-section of the economic, racial and religious divides in that city.
Greg Homann said: “I am interested in finding out how other gay men interact and experience city life. This project began in Johannesburg where I have lived for most of my life. The project has now grown to include Birmingham, thanks to the support it is receiving from MAC.
“Johannesburg and Birmingham are sister-cities. They both thrive and function on the varied racial, religious and economic backgrounds of the people that make these sites their home. The interview transcripts detail a vivid conversation that challenges narrow perceptions of sexuality. They reveal many shared experiences of how society, culture, and religion often limit ones right to live freely.
“The goal is to use theatre and performance to highlight parallel and contrasting stories all at once. I want to imaginatively connect the first-hand accounts of gay men across the hemisphere. I can’t say there is a common narrative of what it I s like to live as a gay man in diverse cities today. Gay life in urban centers is complex, contradictory and nuanced. This is not always made visible.”
Homann has been meeting with Birmingham-based participants since August. So far, eleven Birmingham participants have shared their candid personal accounts of growing up, living, and working in the city.
For SHOUT: AT HOME, Homann has collaged extracts from four of the interviews, two from each city, creating four monologues. He has worked virtually with two Birmingham-based actors (Graeme Rose and Vimal Korpal) and two Johannesburg-based actors (Gopala Davies and Sabelo Ndumo). These performances have recently been filmed on-location in Birmingham and Johannesburg.
Tickets can be booked for the event here.
Interviews in Birmingham are ongoing. To know more or to share your story as part of In Our Skin, connect through any of these ways:
Text or WhatsApp: 07882971875
DM on Twitter: @In_Our_Skin
Message the Facebook Page: In Our Skin Project