Plays by Bette Bourne

A Life in Three Acts

Bloomsbury Publishing
Type: Text

With honesty, humour and occasional anger, performer Bette Bourne tells the playwright Mark Ravenhill about his brave and flamboyant life. Crafted from transcripts of a series of long, private conversations, Bette reminisces and replays scenes from his life, from a post-war childhood, a stint as a classical actor in the late 1960s, to living in a drag commune in Notting Hill and being an active member of the Gay Liberation Front. Bette talks about touring with the New York-based Hot Peaches cabaret group and founding his own cabaret troop, the Bloolips, which redefined gay theatre by creating their very own unique celebration of dramatic and colourful homosexuality.

The piece, in three parts, reveals both a portrait of a pioneering, radical individual and a historical document of the struggles and achievements of gay liberation. A Life in Three Acts was first performed in 2009 as part of the Edinburgh Fringe.

Picture of Bette Bourne

courtesy of author

Born in Hackney in London's East End, Bette Bourne is a British actor, activist, and drag queen. Onstage since childhood, as a teenager he worked backstage at the Garrick, before going on to study drama at the Central School of Speech and Drama, then adopting his drag persona. In the 1970s he took a break from acting to join the equal rights campaigns of the Gay Liberation Front. In 2009 the Traverse Theatre hosted A Life in Three Acts, a dramatic telling of his life story written in collaboration with Mark Ravenhill.