Interview: Olivier Award-winning playwright Stef Smith on Glasgay! commission, Cured

Interview: Olivier Award-winning playwright Stef Smith on Glasgay! commission, Cured

The play tackles the issue of the American camps which claim to 'cure' homosexuality

This brand new Glasgay! commission from Olivier Award-winning (for Roadkill) playwright Stef Smith and Ros Philips, her directorial partner on the 2011 transgender drama Falling/Flying, pulls together two themes. First, the predominantly American phenomenon of ‘cure camps’, where homosexual people are apparently ‘cured’ of their sexual orientation, and second, the experiences of gay people who choose to come out later in life.

‘People enter these places for all sorts of reasons,’ says Smith during the first week of rehearsals. ‘Lots of young people are forced to join these camps by their parents, while some people believe that homosexuality is a sin. But there are also secular people who engage with the camps – it isn’t exclusively those with conservative religious backgrounds. I think we like to believe that homophobia’s something exclusively from the religious right wing, but that isn’t the case.’

Smith says there’s no shortage of ‘scary’ information online about both the experiences and the techniques used in the ‘curing’ process. Her research has produced a two-hander in which Julie Hale plays a conflicted woman and Mary Gapinski is her mother, her lover and her contact at the clinic. ‘There’s humour in the piece and also a tenderness between the characters,’ she says, ‘because after all, there’s a mother-daughter relationship and a storyline about two people falling in love. I hope the piece reflects the complexity of the themes – I think there’s both light and dark in this story, and maybe even a few surprises.’

Arches, Glasgow, Tues 22–Sat 26 Oct.


Twenty two years after it burst onto the scene, Glasgay! continues to test the limits of LGBT arts. Taking place across a variety of Glasgow venues each autumn, this performing and visual arts festival presents work that includes LGBTQI artists and engages with social issues as well as questions of identity, sexuality and…

Stef Smith: Cured

Stef Smith's new play is inspired by real accounts of conversion therapy. On the cusp of turning 40, a woman walks into a clinic that claims it can 'cure' her of her homosexuality.