Breaking Glass Magazine – June 2021
Cover image © 16 Beasley St Photography
After an intrinsically difficult year for the arts, it’s great to see the buzz around the full variety of this year’s Brighton Fringe, the largest open-access arts festival in England. Welcoming all forms of art and expression, the city’s venues open up their doors to both new and established performers, offering a diverse showcase of talent across multiple genres.
Kicking off our Fringe experience in flamboyant style, Tell Me Why sees its debut at One Church with a dazzling display of sound and vision. Masterminded by creative director Mr Venus and produced by collective NoAgEnDeR, the show chronicles ‘life outside the mainstream and how it really was for marginalised individuals finding and fighting for their rights’, taking the audience on an ‘emotional roller coaster ride through queer life over the last 50 years’.
Laying bare the sometimes devastating impact of exclusion, the show nonetheless takes the opportunity to mark the historical fight for the right to self-expression and acceptance, and celebrates the lives of friends and loved ones lost along the way, a scenario likely to resonate and bring memories of their own to anyone attending.
Musically, the show is packed with anthems galore, a mix of original compositions and momentous songs from different eras. Things bode well when, on arrival, you’re greeted with a lyric print of Pete Shelley’s Homosapien on each table, a track excluded from radio airplay in the UK in the early 80s for its supposed reference to gay sex. As a solo artist and Buzzcocks’ vocalist, Shelley proved himself to be perhaps the most punk of them all, penning songs about love and relationships amidst his peer group’s cries of anarchy and oppression.
Elsewhere, a meta moment for me as Blackman from Breaking Glass features, prompting me to rewatch the film which, despite the name, I haven’t seen for many years. The inclusion of another favourite, Suede’s Beautiful Ones is a fitting addition to the fanfare and costumery of the night and the stories it tells.
A heartfelt look back at queer culture through the years, Tell Me Why is clearly a labour of love from all involved and is really what The Fringe and inclusivity are all about – a group of friends with something to say, supporting each other to make the dream a reality and share the project on stage. Work is in progress to produce a documentary about the making of the show; let’s hope this sees the light of day and the sharing continues.
Words and photos © Siobhan
1st June 2021