New musical celebrates venerated piece of lesbian history Club Gateways
- Allan Radcliffe
- 27 January 2010
Club Gateways has a special place in LGBT history as the longest surviving lesbian nighclub in the world. The venue, on London’s Kings Road, opened in 1930 and attracted celebrities such as Joyce Grenfell, Quentin Crisp and Joan Collins in its 1960s heyday, even appearing in the 1968 film The Killing of Sister George.
Now the venerated club has become the inspiration for a brand new musical, scripted and produced by Glasgow-based writer/performer Rachel Jury with music by Andrew Cruickshank. According to Jury, the inspiration for the piece came when she stumbled across a history of the club, From the Closet to the Screen by Jill Gardiner.
‘The whole time I was reading the book I had this very distinct vision of a musical, what it would look like, sound like and feel like. So I ignored that for about a year because it just seemed too ridiculous – how was I going to write a musical let alone produce it! But the image wouldn’t go away, and as a writer I know the ideas that keep nagging you are the ones worth paying attention too. So after about a year I succumbed to the vision and embarked on the voyage of The Gates.’
The full production will feature a cast of more than 20 actors and a full orchestra, which Jury and Cruickshank plan to fund with a series of teaser events at the Tron paid for by the Sponsor a Song scheme the pair have been running on their website, www.gatewaysproductions.co.uk
The first of these teasers is a great chance to meet some of the characters, including the Naked Civil Servant himself.
‘Of course we couldn’t have The Gates without Quentin Crisp who in some ways personifies the spirit of the club,’ says Jury. ‘He takes quite a large role in Club Gateways as the narrator and has a key role in the full production. The Gates, though, is about the brave, courageous women and the people who supported them to fight for and seek out, against the odds, a safe place to love and be loved. So Joyce Grenfell and Joan Collins had to take a back seat for once.’
Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Fri 5 & Sat 6 Feb