mm— Horse lovers
Gay sweatshop: dlal l for lesbian
Think of Hallowe 'en. where the killer prowls round cosy small-town America, Nightmare on Elm Street where the threat of Freddy disturbs domestic sweet dreams. Bron/(side where Trevor's body lay under the patio for months undetected. All the best horror stories happen in suburbia. And. in the spirit of this home truth. pioneering physical theatre company Gay Sweatshop have created their latest piece. ‘a lesbian horror ballct‘ titled in classic Stephen King keep-it-simple- stupid style as The Hand.
‘lt‘s about the horror you ﬁnd in everyday life.‘ says Lois Weaver. artistic director of Gay Sweatshop (and director of Split Britches). Andjust like she says. The Hand (the hand that touches. the hand.that caresses. the hand that appears round the side of the door. etc) takes place'in suburbia. However. unless you live on Weird Street. this is most definitely not suburbia as we know it. From a story created by playwright. novelist and performer Stella Duffy (and several other writers), choreographed by astounding experimental dancer/choreographer Emilyn Claid and directed by Weaver. Gay Sweatshop have created a Twin Pea/cr- like town populated by the kind of lesbians a nice girl wouldn’t take home to mother. including incestuous twins. murderous lovers and an elderly lady with a thing for young girls.
Like all the best suburban nightmares, though. the overriding theme is watching and being watched. in this case, the audience are the true voyeurs. but Duffy also has us peeping through the net curtains at the inhabitants of Weirdsville through the eyes of a normal middle-class lesbian couple who live in the same suburb. The trick explains Weaver. is that: ‘You’re never quite sure ifthey’re really seeing it. or ifthey'rejust making it all up.‘
The original idea (which was triggered by Claid declaring to Weaver: ‘l’d love to make a lesbian horror ballet!‘) comes from a desire to re- appropriate the history of horror as lesbian. ’Our associations with horror come mainly through cinema.‘ says Weaver. ‘And it just seemed that it was a subject that had never been approached by women and by lesbians.‘ (Ellie Carr)
The Hand. Gay Sweatshop. Cartier Theatre. Tue 3] Oct—Thurs 2 Nov. 8pm.
Horse MacDonald's voice has long been celebrated as one of the richest musical sounds to be heard on these shores. so it‘s hardly surprising that for years she has harboured a desire to twin it with the equally textural sound of strings. She had her chance when the OFT asked the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and a group of songwriters including Horse to compose new music to accompany a season of silent films. This taster spurred her to maintain her contacts with the SC() and now she will be performing a concert with full orchestra in the seemingly incongruous environment of Barrowland — a first for the SCO.
‘There's something about Barrowland.‘ says Horse. ‘l‘ve seen so many bands there and We been there as
a performer and to me the atmosphere is electric. What I want. as much as to have the audience enjoy it. is for the orchestra to enjoy the performance. Anything the audience know they'll sing. which l'm sure the orchestra are
' not used to.‘
The task of arranging a clutch of Horse favourites for full chamber orchestra has fallen to Audrey Riley.
who has played with The Communards
and arranged strings for The Cure. and recently Terrorvision. She has worked with Horse since their first album.
‘The string arrangements of the Horse songs are very much orchestrations. as opposed to Mantovani strings. like a backing band or something.‘ says Horse.
The Chamber ()rchestra will also
liorse: riding out with the SCO
perform some pieces without Horse. and the whole concert will be recorded for bossible future release as a Horse solo album. but she has higher aspirations for the whole exercise.
‘l desperately want more than the usual Horse crowd to come and l want our audience to go out and see the orchestra again.‘ she says.
With costs meaning that there will only be one rehearsal the day before the concert. the stakes have been raised: ‘1']! be so nervous. If you see me looking bulgy around the hips it'll be because He got my Pampers on.‘ (Fiona Shepherd)
Horse and [/10 SCU play Barrow/and (In Sal 28.
‘BBC Accused Over Gay TV For Schools’ thundered the Daily Express in 1990 after it emerged that an educational programme called Two of Us would finally be screened. The teenage drama was first commissioned in 1986, but was shelved after Margaret Thatcher went on the offensive against trendy teachers ‘promoting’ homosexuality in local authority schools, resulting in Clause 28. The Sun was happy to take up cudgels on the govemment’s behalf with editorials suggesting that such programmes should be ‘returned to where they belong - the closet’.
Two of Us is a short drama about a love triangle between three emotionally vulnerable teenagers: Matthew, the triangular-torsoed swimmer who has pretty much come to
Two of Us: homo-eroticism In the showers
terms with his homosexuality; Sharon, a brassy blonde desperate to go steady with a ‘fella’, and Phil who fancies them both. The version that was screened by the BBC, first late at night and then in the social education slot it was intended for, bad the brief kiss between Matthew and Phil edited out. The ending was also changed to suggest that Phil went straight with Sharon after a brief gav fling at the seaside.
However, the ‘director’s cut’, which has now become a cult best-seller for the gay video label Dangerous to Know, leaves in the kiss (all 0.3 seconds of it) and ends with Matthew and Phil continuing their love affair.
‘This was the first time homosexuality had been tackled head on in a schools programme,’ remembers director Roger Tonge. ‘lt’s become a cult with older people who are sad about the adolescence they missed which might have been different if they’d had something like this to help them. It was also different because of the context of working class kids, not E.M. Forster’s Maurice types.’
The objectives are still worthy, if now slightly dated, but the already socially educated may prefer to sit back and enjoy the lingering shower scenes. (Eddie Gibb)
Two of Us is at GFT on Sat 28 Oct at 2pm and will be followed b y a discussion featuring Roger Tonge.
1} The List 20 Oct-2 Nov 1995