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Creative Pride

The creative team behind a new play that will premiere as part of the 10th Norwich Pride celebrations are looking for people’s coming out stories.

OUT140 is a micro-storytelling experience which will feature 140 stories from members of the local LGBT community, each lasting 140 characters or less which was the original size of a tweet on Twitter and is the equivalent of writing a story on a post-it note.  Producer Michelle Savage (also known as Shelly Telly) describes it as “a living, breathing project with stories being added all the time” with “audience members invited to share their stories on the night and see them live on stage.” 

The play, performed by local people, will premiere in Norwich Theatre Royal’s Stage Two auditorium on Tuesday, July 24, starting at 7.30pm (admission is £5). It is part of a programme of activities at the theatre under the banner Creative Pride which will help mark the 10th anniversary the Norwich Pride March which takes place on July 24.

OUT140 began as a multimedia show on the Fusion screen in The Forum for LGBT History Month in 2010, where it displayed people’s coming out stories in 140 characters or less. The original work toured as an exhibition in galleries in Norwich, Cromer, Folkestone and Brighton, before being printed as a book. It has since been performed as a micro-concert of songs by the Sing with Pride choir, and is now being developed into a stage play.

Michelle explained: “So much has happened for LGBT people over the last 10 years, for example same-sex couples now have equal marriage rights. We want to make sure the show feels as fresh and current as possible and reflects the ways that people’s experiences of coming out have changed. There’s still time to get your story in the main script and we’ll be collecting stories on the night so audience members can see their tiny tales come to life.”

Director Jen Alexander says: “It’s wonderful to develop a play in such a fluid way. Cast members have contributed their own stories and ideas and this has given the production real genuiness and depth. It’s going to be amazing performing in front of an audience who have such a strong connection to what they’re seeing on stage.”

Here are a few examples:

My daughter’s wedding. Seeing her so happy with her bride. I thought “What were you worried about you old fool?”.

2018, I’ve been declined jobs and opportunities because I’m trans. It’s illegal, but not something I can change. We’ve still got work to do.

I told my mum I was bisexual. She didn’t know what to say so she bought me a tumble dryer.

Other events during the theatre’s Creative Pride week include a large 8ft high by 24ft wide art installation by renowned Norwich-based cartoonist and illustrator David Shenton, whose fun cartoons have been published in national journals and British newspapers for over 40 years. His installation is made up of a series of large moveable panels which come together to make one large montage of gay icons, decorated in the style of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album cover. It will be on display at the theatre during the 2018 Norwich Pride March as it passes along Theatre Street, and also in the building at other times during July.

On Wednesday and Thursday, July 25 & 26, Stage Two will host Kate O’Donnell presenting You’ve Changed about her own transition journey 15 years ago. Through song, dance, hard-won wit and wisdom, she has collaborated with choreographers, musicians and filmmakers to explore the ins and outs and ups and downs of transitioning. Admission is £12 (£10 concs).

Comedian Stephen Bailey, currently appearing on television screens as Zoe Ball’s agony aunt on her ITV1 weekend chat show, will tackle everything from celebrity culture and dating to politics and working-class family life in his own distinct and outrageously honest gossipy style. He’s on stage in Can’t Think Straight in Stage Two on Friday, July 27, admission £14 (£12 concs), in a show suitable for 16+ years.

At Norwich Playhouse on Friday, July 27, La Voix, one of the UK’s leading variety performers will offer plenty of razzle-dazzle for Creative Pride with stunning live vocals delivering sound alike singing performances of some of the world’s biggest divas such as Cher, Liza Minnelli, Shirley Bassey & Judy Garland, all mixed in with hilarious comedy and finished off with some magnificent gowns. Tickets are priced from £17.50 to £20.

The week of activities will wrap up with a Theatre Crafts and Tales free drop-in session back in Stage Two on July 28, offering families the chance to join in Pride celebrations with a riot of rainbow related craft activities such as making your own Pride flag, crown and much more!  The session will be suitable for ages four-plus and all children must be accompanied by an adult.

More information and tickets for all shows can be purchased at ntr.org.uk/CreativePride.