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Your guide to this year’s Dublin Gay Theatre Festival

Words: Eva O’Beirne

Graphics: Dublin Gay Theatre Festival

The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival has released its full program of events for this year. The 19th edition of the festival will take place from May 2-15 2022. 

From free play readings to seminars, comedy shows to drama, there’s something for everyone. Here’s our official guide to this year’s Dublin Gay Theatre Festival.

Free Events

In terms of free events for this year’s festival, attendees can attend a free reading of two one-act plays, “Half of Nothing and “Porn!” by IDGTF Bursary winner, Irish playwright Ella Skolimowski at Pennylane Bar on May 1 at 15:00. You can buy tickets here.

On May 7 at 16:00, five Irish language mini-plays under development by playwrights from the queer Irish-language arts collective AerachAiteachGaelach will be put on in the Player’s Theatre in Trinity College Dublin. AerachAiteachGaelach was founded by Ciara Ní É and Eoin Mc Evoy in the Abbey Theatre in 2020 and has over 60 members who represent a wide variety of art forms – playwrights, writers, musicians, drag performers and visual artists. For more information click here.

A staged reading of the new playShame is the Name of the Game’ will be taking place in Street 66 on May 8 at 15:00. Written by Robert Downes and dramaturgy by Tamar Keane, the play centres around a gameshow with “three unwitting participants” who “expose their darkest secrets live on air”.

“Queer Theatre and Audiences in Ireland” is a seminar being held on May 15 at 15:00 in the Teacher’s Club. After a short thematic introduction to LGBTQ theatre on the Irish stage and especially at the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, there will be a panel discussion with Tony Award winner Adam Weinstock, TOSOS associate Kathleen Warnock, actor Les Kurkendall-Barrett and Irish writer Ella Skolimownski about their working process, the challenges they face in making work that is queer, political and challenging the norm. For more information, click here.

Comedy

A triple bill of female queer comedy will be taking place in Trinity’s Players Theatre from May 2-7. Featuring the plays Trollye’d, Who Pays The Bill and Babies and Bathwater, both matinee and evening performances are available for this show. Click here for tickets.

A double-bill of Irish comedy and drama will be taking place in the Teacher’s Club from May 2-7. Quarantine and Three Queens Stuck in Dublin City both follow the themes of confinement, allowing for plenty of relatability and laughs. Click here for more information.

Written and directed by IDGTF Best Actor winner 2015, Brian Higgins Who’ll be the Mammy details the trials and tribulations of two married men in their “fab forties” looking to start a family. Taking place from 2-7 May with both afternoon and evening performances, you can book your tickets here.

‘Straight Acting’ is a situational comedy where Tom cheated on Harry, Audrey dumped Alan and there’s a gay play to be cast in a day. Harry needs no more complications on or off stage, and Alan desperately needs a job and a life. They both need a wingman. This modern-day ‘Pygmalion’ story throws two unlikely co-stars together on a 24-hour journey that could change their lives. Written and directed by Brian Merriman, this play will be taking place from 2-7 May in the Teacher’s Club Studio.

Described as “a comedy with a few low points” Miss Delta Township is writer/actor Joanne Powers’ one-woman show centred on the question on when is the right time to “come of age”. Fast, hilarious, surprising and deeply moving, the show will be taking place in the Teacher’s Studio from May 2-7. With both evening and afternoon performances available, you can book tickets here.

Susanne has a great life – a job she loves, a fantastic Polish wife called Magda, a child she adores, and a gay ex-husband who is now her best friend. But after a lump in her breast is discovered, her life may never be the same again. The Death of Me will take place from 9-14 May in the Ireland Institute. You can find more information on the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival website.

From May 9-14, What Doesn’t Kill You.…! will be shown in the Teacher’s Club. A witty, contemporary comedy that follows one man’s awakening after a near-death experience, this show features a heart attack, an obsession with Cher and a trip to a concentration camp. Starring and written by James Hindman, directed by SuzAnne Barabas and produced by Tony Award winner Adam Weinstock, click here to book tickets.

Drama

Quilt will take place from May 9-14 in the Teacher’s Club. Detailing the story of AIDS in Ireland, four people will tell the true stories of the heroes who lived, loved, lost, fought and survived. Quilts offer comfort, warmth and remembrance. Using factual records, and some online testimonials, Quilt reminds us of an ignored pandemic and its legacies today. Click here for more information.

No.1 bestselling author Amanda Brunker will be taking over Trinity College Dublin’s Player’s Theatre with her tale of female seduction “Curiosity“. Amy has recently learnt her husband was cheating on her, with other men. After years of feeling isolated within her marriage, this reality hits her hard and her mental health is suffering. There she meets the force of nature Martha who manages to seduce her, and ultimately help heal her broken heart and soul. For more information, click here.

From May 2-7, the Ireland Institute will be hosting the revival of Mansel David’s acclaimed show “Take Desire Away” about A.E.Housman, the classics scholar whose self-published 1896 poem cycle ‘A Shropshire Lad’ became a publishing phenomenon and connected deeply with thousands of young men. David brings a clear, queer eye to Housman’s words – his wistful poems and very funny letters – and discovers the yearning and passion burning beneath them.

Also from May 2-7, the Teacher’s Club will be hosting “The Real Black Swann: Confessions of America’s First Black Drag Queen“. Les Kurdendall presents the true story of William Dorsey Swann, a former slave who became the Queen of Drag in Washington DC in the late 1800’s. Swann fought racism and homophobia and was one of the first LGBTQIA activists in the US.
This is a historical show, prompted by a contemporary medical experience, that you don’t want to miss. Click here for tickets.

Quickies: Four Plays from Provincetown is perfect for any novice theatre-goer. Taking place in the Teacher’s Club from May 9-14, the show consists of four short plays: Madame Executrix, Look What You Made Me Do, Pulse and The Black Eye. For more information, click here.

Brother’s Keeper is about courageous survival. This is William’s journey, from aged ten years to middle age. Like many LGBTQ+ youths, he suffers brutal abuse in school just because he is ‘different’. Brother James, his priest, takes a “special” interest in William.  What damage is done when a priest sexually abuses boys? How do predators justify this? Some victims survive. Others perish. Click here for more information.

From May 9-14, the story of Everett Klippert will play out on the Player’s Stage in Trinity College Dublin. Everett Klippert was the last person to be tried, convicted, and jailed for homosexuality in Canada before it was decriminalised. A beloved downtown bus driver in Calgary who brightened the day of his passengers, he played on the family baseball team and was everyone’s ‘favourite uncle’. An aspiring historian begins to investigate Everett’s case, uncovering the past through people who knew him. For tickets to Legislating Love, click here.

The Silver Bell is a new play about love and loss. It explores the place of care in intimate relationships, and asks what happens when all the time in the universe isn’t enough. Taking place from May 9-14, this play tells the story of Mico who loses the love of his life to motor neurone disease. He should begin the slow process of grieving, but instead, he does the next best thing: he punches a hole in the universe and travels to parallel worlds, all in the hope of getting his husband back. Click here for more information.

In 1981 several bathhouses in Toronto were brutally and violently raided in one of the largest mass arrests in Canadian history called “Operation Soap”. Room 333, in a bathhouse, is the setting to retell these historical events through the eyes of three fictional characters caught up in these raids. Showing in the Player’s Theatre from May 9-14, you can book tickets here.

The Future of Dublin Gay Theatre Festival

Unfortunately, the future of the festival is now in jeopardy due to a lack of funding. It is more important than ever to support the project so that LGBTQ+ creators can have their work platformed.

In 2019, the event was given a 50 per cent increase in its Arts Council support from an original amount of 10,000 euro, to produce and present a fortnight of unique LGBTQ+ Irish and international theatre in Dublin each year. For 2019, the increased funding resulted in a highly praised festival, launched and lauded by the Minister for Art and Culture and attended by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar. But for this year’s festival, funding has been cut by 100 per cent.

Four hours before the state injected an additional 50 million euro in relief for the arts and entertainment sector on October 10 2020, the Council announced a cut of 50 per cent noting ‘lack of funds’. In 2021, the Council repeated the 50 per cent cut, and currently don’t plan to fund this year’s festival.

The Dublin Gay Theatre Festival has continued to support LGBTQ+ theatre despite these cuts. For the past two years, they have run bursary schemes, published books of plays and collaborated with Dubin Pride, to produce an online festival of twelve Irish plays in June.

Founder of the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, Brian Merriman commented on the issue at this year’s launch of the festival: “The cash-rich Arts Council decided to cut our grant altogether, in this year of recovery, completely denying us any funds for LGBT+ Theatre and artists. This singling out of LGBT artists and punishing them at a time of recovery is indefensible. All Festival personnel donate their time to this art form, so it is only recovering artists and their theatre who suffer this brutal cut.”

“Such unusual and unwelcome treatment is unchallengeable in their limited appeals process. But the best answer we can give to that ‘special treatment’ is not only to survive but to continue to create theatre opportunities for Irish LGBT+ artists and allies and to welcome international friends to the Capital of Gay Theatre – Dublin!” 

To keep up to date with the activities of the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival and book tickets, click here.

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