With the addition of the Oberon Books Collection this year, many more titles by underrepresented writers are now accessible on Drama Online. Oberon Books is renowned for publishing writing which is challenging and experimental in both content and form, offering a platform to LGBTQ+ playwrights since its inception in the 1980s.
Below you will learn about four significant playwrights who are stalwarts of the UK’s queer theatre scene. We have selected one play written by each of them over the past decade and these are free to view until September 2021.
“The real question is not what category you fit into, but how brave you are.” Neil Bartlett
Although his mainstream career has included major work for the RSC and the National, playwright and director Neil Bartlett has managed to stay close to the radical queer cultural roots that first brought him to prominence in the early 1980s. Inspired by the scandalous true story of Ernest Boulton – the infamous Victorian cross-dresser – Stella is a highly personal meditation on the fine art of living dangerously. Alone on the darkened stage of an old music hall, a man reflects on an extraordinary life as he awaits a very ordinary death. This play is as much about the present and our own attitudes to gender fluidity as it is about the past, and it constantly probes what it is that makes us ourselves.
Neil is also the author of In Extremis, a homage to Oscar Wilde, commissioned by the National Theatre for the centenary of Wilde’s death, as well as two groundbreaking anthologies of monologues, Solo Voices and Queer Voices.
Jo Clifford’s career is also one that spans mainstream and radical pockets of queer culture. She was instrumental in establishing the reputation of the Traverse Theatre in the 1980s and was the first openly transgender woman to have a play produced in the West End. At the same time, her groundbreaking play The Gospel According to Jesus, Queen of Heaven, which cast Jesus as a trans woman, is now a beloved text with enduring relevance for many of trans people.
In this collaboration with award-winning theatremaker Chris Goode, Jo Clifford looks inward to tell her own story. Eve is the tale of a child raised as a boy, when she knew all along that was wrong; a child who grew up to be one of the 10 Outstanding Women in Scotland in 2017. With trans rights again under threat, legendary playwright, performer, father and grandmother Jo Clifford tells a story both gentle and passionate, intimate and political, to remind us that the journey towards our real selves is one we all need to make. Eve was commissioned by the National Theatre of Scotland in 2017, and enjoyed a critically successful run at the Edinburgh Fringe that same year.
Mojisola Adebayo is as well-rounded a theatremaker as they come: a playwright and director; a professor, researcher and facilitator. Her unflinching political writing deftly touches on subjects of race, gender, sex and sexuality, feminist history and politics.
Her latest work Stars, set to re-open the Ovalhouse Theatre in London at its new Brixton location, tells the story of a very, very old lady who goes into outer space in search of her own orgasm. Told through one woman and a live DJ, Stars is a joyous, sensitive yet funny, unapologetic and transformative space odyssey. It moves with grace, humour and heart between themes of sexuality, desire and discovery, to the very real policing of female and queer bodies: Female Genital Mutilation and forced surgery on intersex children.
Currently artistic director of multimedia company Team Angelica, Rikki Beadle-Blair MBE has been a key figure in London’s Black queer community for nearly four decades. His ethos of collaboration, radical action and solidarity is apparent in the warmth that permeates all his works, and in the tales of all the young playwrights and directors he has taken under his wing over the years.
FIT was developed in collaboration with Stonewall to address the growing problem of homophobic bullying in Britain's schools and was especially created for Key Stage 3 students (aged 11-14), specifically complementing various learning objectives from the National Curriculum, particularly PHSE and Citizenship. The play is about attempting to ‘fit’ in and trying to stand out in a culture where everything - from not liking sport to wearing the wrong trainers - is considered ‘gay’. It enjoyed a hugely successful run during 2007 and 2008, where 20,000 young people in over 75 schools across the UK saw the play, accompanied by a workshop, and was made into a short film which toured UK schools as part of the London Lesbian and Gay Film Festival.
Visit our Previously Featured Content page to view other topics including Explore Hamlet in the Round, Female Playwrights - a brief history and Plays and Playwrights from Around the World.