Right now I am beginning to embark on a brand new project which I didn't think I'd be beginning this year at all, it's called BETH. It is a response to Macbeth, a text obsessed with masculninty and it is also a musical told entirely through slam poetry and devised / improvised music.
I'm just capturing some initial thoughts here about the process as I begin it.
The intersection of queer and working class voices is one that is not often seen, it is probably most directly addressed in Beautiful Thing by Jonathan Harvey. In fact there is a massive void in working class voices at the moment in mainstream narrative (except for TV I would say), there is a dwindling production of working class novels especially at the YA end of things and theatre has always had an uneasy relationship with class due to the higher ticket prices and a market so dominated by Central london. It is usually the case that in working class queer stories we see the plight of a young white cis gay male, the acceptable face of working class queerness struggling with their identity. However there are a lot of other stories to tell in this area.
I also want to addrss my use of the term Queer quickly, I know at the moment we're in a period of rapid re-definition for LGBTQ+ language and I am experimenting with reclaiming queer in the sense of "the other". Queer was traditionally been used as a slur for the LGBTQ+ community, but I want to try and use it to denote a sexual AND political AND social othering of a body, who does not identify as cinsgendered heterosexual. Queer theory is often an attempt to take the thing that has been made queer and situate it at the centre of analysis / narrative / the work in order to stop it being othered but also witout the requirement to change for this foregrounding. In a way, a working class identity is queer as they have been made "Other" in narrative by the dominant ideology of society.
This entire musical is going to be formed from slam poetry and devised music / beatboxing / anything the group bring to a session. This is something I've experimented with before, but also still something I'm in an early place with so if anyone wants to point me to anything useful with devising music that would be great. I also feel that this style is going to lend itself to the story I want to tell, it's the kind of show that can be easily reproduced without needing any kind of formal musical theatre training, in a world where professional drama training is often less available to working class students. This is not a purely practical concern however, it is an artistic one where I want t consider the musical aesthetic we as writers choose to tell stories.
The way I'm thinking about this whole project is not the product of an issue, so often you will see a working-class character or a queer character whose narrative function is to express their difference. The gay character must come out in order to justify their coming out or the working-class character's uniqueness comes from their class. I'm really not itnerested in this tokenistic style of character creation here, queer theory revovles around setting queer characters at the centre of narrative, so that's what intend to do.
Hopefully some of you will join me on the capture of this process and please please feelf ree to interact about it too. If it's something you might want to get in touch about then please don't hesitate to drop me an e-mail!