The best events at Glasgay! 2013
Glasgow festival celebrating LGBTQ culture marks 20th year with packed programme
Since its inception in 1993, Glasgay! has reflected the city’s changing relationship with LGBTQ communities. Beginning at a time when ‘promotion’ of homosexuality was forbidden by ‘Section 28’ (a piece of Conservative legislation that claimed to protect family values), and weathering years of limited funding, it has established itself both as an annual celebration of Scottish talent and an inclusive festival that reaches out beyond its expected audiences.
Although it has contracted and expanded in size during the past twenty years, it has been consistent in its commitment to multiple art forms: film, theatre, dance, comedy and music have all been represented and many Scottish artists have found it a crucial platform: from playwright Martin O’Connor (collaborating this year with Donna Rutherford) to musician David Paul Jones, Glasgay! has commissioned and supported original Scottish performance.
Steven Thomson, the festival’s artistic director, is very aware of Glasgay!’s continued importance. ‘Where I started was looking at that very first festival and thinking about the sparkling names that made Glasgay! so special,’ he says. Early plans to invite the original performers were scuppered by the artists’ subsequent careers. ‘The names - the likes of Ian McKellen - are so famous these days, it became obvious right away we had to look at it another way!’
Going on to consider ‘the over-use of the word legacy,’ Thomson considered the nature of the festival’s engagement with particular artists. ‘Glasgay!’s legacy is about the people who have contributed to the festival: one thing that occurred to me was: who were the emerging artists in 1993?’
‘And there, tucked away in the corner of the programme was a poetry reading with Jackie Kay,’ says Thomson. Kay would later write the first version of The Maw Broon Monologues for Glasgay! ‘So we went to Jackie and asked if she wanted to freshen up the Monologues - and she was absolutely keen and there’s loads Maw Broon wants to say. Let’s have a go at seeing what we can say about contemporary times!’
Thomson’s line-up includes familiar faces - Craig Hill makes his annual appearance, and Martin O’Connor (Ch Ch Ch Changes) collaborates with Donna Rutherford - and states Glasgay! has been important for supporting Scottish artists.
‘It’s a way of looking back without being too reverential and cloying,’ Thomson affirms. Certainly, the range of events on offer both establishes the diversity of contemporary LBGTQ art, and reflects on Glasgay!’s own contribution to Scotland’s artistic culture.
10 highlights from Glasgay! 2013
Film: The Wizard of Oz
Yes, The Wizard of Oz is as camp as a bag of hats – but this is more than a kitsch-fest, as the Royal Scottish National Orchestra will be performing the original score live.
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, Sat 19 Oct.
Play: The Maw Broon Monologues
As her first Maw Broon Monologues proved, Jackie Kay never disappoints. This Glasgay-commissioned show features all-new content and songs, considering Maw Broon's stance on reality TV, the class system, and – of course – Scottish independence.
Tron Theatre, Wed 30 Oct-Sat 9 Nov.
Exhibition: Alan Crumlish: Retro
Things have certainly changed for LGBT people since the 1980s and 90s – but, asks Alan Crumlish, is it always for the better? His dramatic photos provide an overview of queer Scottish life, from the queer club scene in the 1980s to performances by LGBT artists in the 1990s. In a beautiful full-circle move, the exhibition also features images from the first ever Glasgay festival 20 years ago.
Tron Theatre, Wed 9 Oct-Sat 9 Nov.
Film: Blue is the Warmest Colour
Based on French graphic novelist Julie Maroh's comic, this film has already made headlines for its sexual content. Both lead actresses have reportedly refused to work with director Abdellatif Kechiche again, after he refused to let them 'fake' a fight scene. Lesbian romance films are often markedly lacking in passion, so it will be interesting to see whether Kechiche's unpleasant working methods succeed where others have failed.
Glasgow Film Theatre, Wed 6 Nov.
It's a double celebration for the official Glasgay closing party and Menergy's fourth birthday. It'll certainly be drag-tastic, with RuPaul's Drag Race winner Raja headlining. Defining yourself as LGBT isn't all fun and games, so all the more reason to don your gladdest rags and have a proper party.
AXM, Sat 9 Nov.
Film: Man for A Day
Katrina Peter’s documentary follows Scottish legend Diane Torr as she leads a workshop in Berlin. Torr, who has been agitating and playing with gender identity for nearly thirty years pioneered the drag king and brings it out into the streets.
CCA, Sun 27 Oct.
Talks: What’s Next for Queer Performance?
As LGBTQ rights move into a new era, how will queer performance evolve? Glasgay!’s own legacy offers clues to the future of art intended to provoke and entertain.
Gilmorehill Centre, Wed 16 Oct.
Musical: The Gates
Rachel Jury continues her exploration of musical theatre with a look behind the green door of a famous Chealsea members’ club of the 1950s
Classic Grand, Wed 23¬–Sat 26 Oct.
Theatre: Handel’s Cross
Theatre North examine the sublimated desire that inspired Handel, through the fantasies of two men in a fetish dungeon.
CCA, Tue 15–Wed 16 Oct.
Theatre: Killing Me Softly
Revival of the 1987 play that shows that loneliness can build a connection capable of crossing gender and sexual boundaries.
Scottish Youth Theatre, Sat 26–Sun 27 Oct.