Amblers on the promenade earlier this month were brought to a halt by the blaring sounds of Gloria Gaynor’s ‘I Am What I Am’. The gay anthem lured people passing by to the site of a performance – a piece of blue tarpaulin held down by pebbles. Here a bunch of am-dram performers were lined up, ready, waiting for their cue to hit the temporary stage.
These enthusiastic participants had only been working together since 11am that morning in a workshop directed by Sumita from Sappho For Equality. This Kolkata-based organisation has collaborated with University of Brighton to host a series of street theatre performances in public spaces around Brighton.
The performers were looking for keywords that make their lives liveable and, as we arrived, were in the process of presenting them to the small crowd that had gathered. The performance was short and silent, accompanied by a speaker who narrated the actions and explained why these words were important to the performers. They were intended to reflect the experiences of those in the LGBTQ community: Sensuality, Friendship, Space, Activism and Community.
The focus of this street theatre wasn’t the performance per se, but the deeper goal of trying to create the possibility of a different space where lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual and queer individuals can lead more fulfilling lives. The project seems to be exploring the idea that a life can be ‘liveable’ rather than just bearable – for people in the UK and India. Participants have been sharing their ideas and experiences during interactive workshops and through the project’s website. They have already taken these ideas to the public through one-off performances in Kolkata, in India, and now in Brighton.