Love is a funny, equivocal thing that can unite and divide a nation; enrich and enervate a life; rupture and erect boundaries. However, despite its multifacetedness, it is a right we all have. Or should have.
Fifty years ago, a significant step was taken towards the decriminalisation of homosexuality in England and Wales when the Sexual Offences Act was passed. It was agreed that for men over the age of 21 years old "... a homosexual act in private shall not be an offence provided that the parties consent thereto". And although the Act was related only to men as no law was ever passed classing lesbianism as illicit, punishable behaviour in England and Wales, its ripples were said to have still been felt by the entire LGBT community. And in a response to this year marking the 50th Anniversary of the Sexual Offences Act, the award-winning Young Company at The Royal Exchange has created an original promenade production called 'We Were Told There Was Dancing' that I cannot wait to see.
As the shocking news of what gay men are currently facing in Chechnya surfaces alongside tweets by a certain man about the reinstatement of the US military ban on transgender people, an immersive theatre show by young people reflecting on the web of political issues affecting gay rights over the years seems very fitting. I was fortunate enough to have a chat with the lovely and funny Matt Hassall, the director of the theatre production, to gain a better understanding of how the show came to be and to hear a spoiler-free run down of what is in store for those who attend (thank you Paula and Sarah for helping make that happen!). Let's just say that I am very excited to see the show next week.
Beneath The Royal Exchange lies a labyrinth-basement with spaces the public have not since been privy to... until now. From the 17th - 20th of August it will be the stage, as designed by Bethany Wells, in which the audience of 'We Were Told There Was Dancing' will discover the tales the show's characters have to share and if there will in fact be dancing - I have it on good authority that there will. However, I cannot say what form of dancing this will be. Speaking of sharing tales, I recorded my conversation with Matt and will be sharing it on here soon. So, if you have ever wondered what I sound like you that will be your chance.
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Five decades ago, England and Wales began to decriminalise homosexuality. Sadly, there are still many countries who are yet to make this step. Let's make the next fifty years known to be the years in which movements rooted in love towards equality for all are made.