Thanks for Glasgay! 2013


from Steven Thomson, Glasgay! Producer

It’s been a tremendous year for Glasgay! on its 20th anniversary.  In our largest and longest running festival in many years we saw great work by unsung heroes and heroines of the LGBT community.  Media coverage and representation is always much on our minds and this year we were delighted to get BBC Reporting Scotland and Pauline McLean.  I always love an “and, finally” moment on the news but they made so much more of it than that.  The Beeb rolled out archive footage of Sir Ian McKellen decrying past Tory councillors who would have denied the festival funding and a future life.  Our wonderful founder Cordelia Ditton was interviewed waxing lyrical about the early days and past glories, and our patron and leading artist, Jackie Kay revelled in the opportunities given to her by the festival and the delight of bringing “Maw Broon” to life two decades later. I’ve worked in the arts for thirty years now and I’m constantly amazed by the wealth of talent and expertise that goes into making festivals happen.

In our theatre programme Stef Smith’s Cured gave us genuine laugh-out-loud moments of recognition in a pithy lesbian two-hander that debunked pseudo gay cures.  The quixotic Mary Gapinski and the wonderful Julie Hale gave us a genuine representation of true love across the generation gap and social divide.  Our run at the Arches played to full houses with great direction by Ros Philips and a wonderful design by Jess Brettle and sensitive lighting by Malcolm Rogan.  This is one work that we were most pleased about and we hope to re-stage it for the Edinburgh Fringe 2014.  It rightly deserves to be seen more widely.   Amongst our other hits this year has been The New Maw Broon Monologues by Jackie Kay, playing to almost full houses; I Am Divine, a film at GFT, featuring John Waters, Divine and a cast of many who reminded us that the journey of LGBT artists is often fraught with lack of recognition, lack of media attention and poor engagement of critics on the broader purpose or social value of our works.  If I see the word ‘cabaret’ in any future reviews I will scream.  None of our work this year was either cabaret or itinerant but then its their failure to engage with context – not ours.

Handels Cross by Martin Lewton and Andrew McKinnon was a worthy well-made show which struggled for audiences – yet it proved a thought provoking work which challenged our perceptions of fetishism and queer-ing of the past.    Rachel Jury and Confab gave us The Gates a full on musical with a cast of 28, sold out in both Edinburgh and Glasgow.  Well done Rachel on getting this show on the road.  It only took funders four years to finally recognise its worth – a project that Rachel first chatted to me about 6 or 7 years ago.  Who funds large scale ensemble work was my question? Well eventually someone did.  John Binnie and Scottish Youth Theatre gaves us a cracking revival of Killing Me Softly that deftly reminded us of coming out in a working class community and the struggle, and sometimes pain and joys, of growing up gay.

Glasgay! has always been about diversity and Craig Hill, Scottee, Tina C gave us three rollicking nights of intensity, laughter and tears of joy with full houses at two of them.  Tina C reminded us that social acceptance is mainstream now. Craig as always pulls in a diverse crowd and Scottee kept it real for the live art crowd looking for queer performance.  Glasgow Uni and Stephen Greer rolled out a successful panel debate on queer performance and in a packed house at Gilmorehill, we got a lovely reminder of where Glasgay! began and where it is now.

A huge thanks is also due to RSNO for the Wizard of Oz, film and concert, Alan Crumlish for his Retro exhibition, Garry MacLaughin for I Am Art and Sub Club for Derrick Carter.

So in 2013 we celebrated with several cakes, a lot of bubbly, flashing lights and beaming smiles of many an audience, and many a happy artist.  For me Glasgay! has finally come of age and whether your gay, lesbian, bisexual or intersex its no longer just about fighting for the right to be seen and heard, accepted, wedded or bedded. Glasgay! is about your stories, your views and your diverse lives.  Long may it continue!

…. oh and in the words of one audience member:

Aidan Morrissey “Best festival I’ve ever witnessed”

(Facebook 8 November at 21:59)