You think queer is cool? Right now it appears to be in fashion and welcome in the mainstream. But, according to writer-performer Alexis Gregory, there’s also been a backlash.
In the last few years, the press has carried reports of queer people being beaten up on the streets of Brighton. Elsewhere the provision of sex education that includes gay and lesbian issues has been contested.
These were some of the contemporary issues we explored with Alexis whose new performance at the Marlborough, ‘Riot Act’, explores 50 years of the LGBTQ rights movement.
It draws on queer history by using verbatim material from intensive interviews with three activists: Michael-Anthony Nozzi (one of the original Stonewall survivors); Lavinia Co-op (a 1970s London radical drag artist); and Paul Burston (a prominent 1990s AIDs activist). Their testimony definitely still counts.
Imagine three gay guests at your dinner table. Their 20-minute monologues are tender, sad and challenging. They tackle radical drag, activism, youth and identity. And it’s not just about Stonewall, according to Alexis. “It’s about youth, ageing, sex, glamour and Hollywood.” He sees it as “radical but accessible” but adds: “don’t expect it to be politically correct.”
Alexis, who performs each role, is both a writer and performer. He’s been a professional actor since he was 15 and wrote his first play in 2013. “I like challenging stuff, subversive stories, hard-hitting and in your face,” he says. Alexis is also passionate about theatre. “It’s about the moment, it’s in the room, it’s unfolding in front of you.” He’s already thinking about two new plays and a possible film.
Brighton has been a favourite place for Alexis for many years. So he’s looking forward to Pride and performing at the Marlborough which has always been at the heart of the scene.
But what about Pride in Brighton? Some voices say that it’s become too corporate. But, as Alexis points out “it needs money and backers” although for him “it would be a shame if Pride moves away from what it’s about.”
The performance, part of a nation-wide tour, is directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair MBE and produced by Rob Ward. It forms part of the celebrations of Brighton Pride and Stonewall’s 50th anniversary.
(Riot Act is recommended for audiences of 16+ years and contains themes and language of an adult nature).
Marlborough Theatre, Tues 30th and Wed 31st July
Photos by James Dawson
Tickets available here