News from the Performance and Community REG

Prof. Deborah Philips speaks at CMNH Online Seminar.

Title: And This is My Friend Sandy (Sandy Wilson’s The Boy Friend, London Theatre and Gay Culture)

In this seminar Professor Deborah Philips will talk about her book “And This is My Friend Sandy” which situates the production of The Boy Friend and the Players’ Theatre in the context of a post-war London and reads The Boy Friend, and Wilson’s later work, as exercises in contemporary camp. It argues for Wilson as a significant and transitional figure both for musical theatre and for modes of homosexuality in the context of the pre-Wolfenden 1950s.

Sandy Wilson’s The Boy Friend is one of the most successful British musicals ever written. First produced at the Players’ Theatre Club in London in 1953 it transferred to the West End and Broadway, making a star out of Julie Andrews and gave Twiggy a leading role in Ken Russell’s 1971 film adaptation. Despite this success, little is known about Wilson, a gay writer working in Britain in the 1950s at a time when homosexuality was illegal.

Drawing on original research assembled from the Wilson archives at the Harry Ransom Center, this is the first critical study of Wilson as a key figure of 1950s British theatre. Beginning with the often overlooked context of the Players’ Theatre Club through to Wilson’s relationship to industry figures such as Binkie Beaumont, Noël Coward and Ivor Novello, this study explores the work in the broader history of Soho gay culture. As well as a critical perspective on The Boy Friend, later works such as Divorce Me, Darling!, The Buccaneer and Valmouth are examined as well as uncompleted musical versions of Pygmalion and Goodbye to Berlin to give a comprehensive and original perspective on one of British theatre’s most celebrated yet overlooked talents.

Free tickets for the event are here

Performance and communities research and enterprise group RESEARCH PAPER AND DISCUSSION

WEDNESDAY 18TH @1.30 ON MS TEAMS JOINING CODE:  sni336o (please email me if you cannot get in)

Flirting with Ghosts: A Conversation about Performing (in, as & with) Queer Bodies.

SL Grange & E.M. Parry

SL Grange is a theatre-maker, writer and facilitator. She is particularly interested in collaborative and ensemble work, and in improvisatory practices that allow for a plurality of voices – including the audiences’ – to be a part of the conversation. Ess has worked with theatre company Improbable for many years, producing and facilitating events that use Open Space Technology; a deeply democratic process designed to empower groups to improvise their own agenda and take action collectively. Ess is currently in the third year of their PhD project at UoB. The research looks for ways to encounter and have a conversation with Mary Frith; a queer performer and criminal who has been dead for 361 years, and with whom Ess is in love.

E.M. Parry is a transgender, trans-disciplinary artist, working and playing across scenography, performance, drag and visual art. Flitting between genres and platforms, their work has been seen at Shakespeare’s Globe and the Royal Vauxhall Tavern, the V&A Museum and Bethnal Green Working Man’s Club, international opera stages and leaky basements. They are currently working on a creative practice-led PhD at the UoB which centres the trans performing body as a tool and method for queer historical research.

Mall and Ess met at art school in the early ‘00s, where we spent a lot of time drinking rum, smoking pipes and talking about all the things we wanted to make together, and we’ve pretty much been doing that ever since. Two decades on we’re both doing performance-centred PhDs that cover queerness, time, history, embodiment and flirting with ghosts. We’ll be talking about our work, our projects, the places where they overlap and interlace, the places they sit separate but adjacent, the ghosts of all the work we didn’t get to make, and the archive that is friendship.


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