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Zoom Readings - 4th Series

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Homo Promos, London’s oldest LGBT theatre company, has now been running weekly Zoom performances of classic Queer drama for over a year. 

Although lockdown has been eased considerably, we’re not out of the woods yet, and so HP will be performing online for another nine Tuesdays from 27 April to 6 July 2021.

“Whatever is going on in the outside world, the Zoom Theatre Space is a unique experience, intimate and warm, with a kind of close emotional involvement unique to the medium,” says director Peter Scott-Presland. “We predict Zoom Theatre is going to become a genre in its own right.”

“Playwrights are already creating specific Zoom pieces, and over a year we have been learning and pushing the boundaries of what is possible in the medium.”

Peter promises there will be further exploration, with the use of music and visuals to enhance text. The plays themselves are drawn again from Homo Promos’ extensive archive. Performances start at 7.30 p.m., with the exception of ‘Leather’ on 22 June which is at 7 p.m.

This invitation covers all 11 performances till 6 July 2021.

Press Release

Queer Performance disrupted by homophobic Zoom bombers. Homo Promos vows: “The Show will go on!”

Tuesday’s performance by Homo Promos of the first part of Peter Scott-Presland’s Jekyll & Hyde was disrupted at the start by an influx of Zoom Bombers. They let off whistles and alarms and shouted abuse. One, named Bob, started 'wanking' on camera, while others wrote homophobic comments in the Chat section. 

They were ejected after ten minutes, and the shaken cast of nine were able to compose themselves in a short time, to deliver a blistering performance.

Organiser Peter Scott-Presland explained: “I should never have let them in, but I hadn’t come across this before. The link was publicly available, and we didn’t put up a pass code because we wanted the show to be easily accessible. But we learn from our mistakes.”

Here is the new link: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/83825210002  There will now be careful checks as people enter the meeting. To get the passcode, email homopromos@gmail.com

“We certainly aren’t going to let these pathetic little specimens undermine our work,” vowed Peter. “As the cliché says, The show must go on".

There are eight more plays in the season, which runs until 6 July 2021.

Note: Homo Promos is London’s oldest LGBT theatre company. It was founded in 1988 and named in defiance of Section 28 which forbade the ‘promotion of homosexuality’. It has now survived that Bigots’ Charter by 15 years. Homo Promos has been presenting lockdown Zoom performances of new work and gay plays from the archive every Tuesday since 29 March 2020.

Press contact: Peter Scott-Presland 07444 311 695


The full programme:

THE KEYHOLE (2017)

27 April 2021 at 7.30 p.m.

A drama/documentary devised by Peter Scott-Presland. Approximately 60 minutes. Directed by the author.

James Pratt and John Smith were the last two men hanged in England for sodomy. They paid for their pleasures by swinging on a rope on 27 November 1835.

45 George Street

The play, in ballad form, follows the journey of James Pratt from his home in Deptford one hot August day, to the house in Blackfriars where he and Smith were caught in flagrante and arrested for buggery.

Or were they? The trial was so hasty and the defence so botched that we can’t know for certain. From there we go to Newgate, where Dickens visited the condemned cell, and thence to the scaffold, and an equally botched hanging by a drunk executioner. 

(Public Hangman William Calcraft killed over 450 people in his long career, including 35 women.)

A community theatre project involving the whole company.

Read more Information and the Script


LERV (1991)

4 May 2021 at 7.30 p.m.

Mutt loves a chair

A vaudeville by Eric Presland

Jeff is hopelessly in love with Mutt who is in love with a chair. But Jeff is never without hope, in spite of every rebuff.

“Is that chair gay?”

“Well, it’s bentwood.”

Read more Information and the Script


IMMEDIATE FAMILY

4 May 2021 (follows Lerv)

Terry Baum

A monologue by Terry Baum and performed by Lucie Spence. Approximately 40 minutes.

A middle-aged bull dyke talking to her partner of thirty years, currently in a coma with terminal cancer. Should she switch off the life support system? Will she be allowed to?

Read more Information and the Script


JEKYLL & HYDE (2020) by Peter Scott-Presland

11 and 18 May 2021 at 7.30 p.m.

By Peter Scott-Presland. Patrick Kealey plays Jekyll and Dan de la Motte plays Hyde. 60 minutes each week.

1887 play of Jekyll & Hyde

Postponed from the end of the last series, JEKYLL & HYDE is a full-length text intended to be set to music by Peter Murphy.

In this revisionist version the action is relocated to Edinburgh, where full-blown Calvinism bears down on a blighted population.

Philanthropic JEKYLL works to alleviate the sufferings of the poor, but his nemesis, HYDE, embodies all the desires of lust and blood which he has suppressed in the closet for so long.

DAVY, a lad who works the gentry on Calton Hill, completes the murderous team. We are presenting the play over two evenings with a cliff-hanger at the end of Act One in order to allow more time for socialising and discussion afterwards.

Read more Information and the Script


OUT OF TIME (2012)

25 May 2021 at 7.30 p.m.

The diaries of Keith Vaughan, selected by Peter Scott-Presland. Approximately 90 minutes with Peter Boyle and Peter Scott-Presland.

Kissing

Keith Vaughan was a post-war British painter who found it impossible to maintain relationships, locked as he was in a private world of pain.

Like his friends, Francis Bacon and John Minton, he destroyed everyone he was close to.

He also wrote the most vivid, sensational diaries from the 1930s to his suicide in 1977. 

No detail of his life is left out, from his sweet affair with a Mexican boy Raoul, through his wartime arrest as a German spy, his enthusiastic invention of the Electronic Masturbator, and his blackly comic wrestling with a colostomy bag. A revelation.

Read more Information and the Script


1932 - THE BERLIN BOY: Pauli may sell his body in Berlin, but he is an innocent country boy who dreams of his Ideal Friend and a better life with a rich older man.

Hello Janine

He is wide open to exploitation by Gerald, a shady Englishman who promises him the earth. His best friend, Lotte, a lesbian chanteuse in the clubs, is powerless to open his eyes.

Isherwood’s Berlin is revisited with clearer eyes and more political savvy. Nowadays we would call this sex tourism, and exploitation. 
With Peter Scott-Presland, Fi Craig, Matthew Hodson, Rich Watkins, and Lucie Spence.

Read more Information and the Script


MYSTERIOUS WAYS

1 June 2021 at 7.30 p.m.

A clerical farce by Mark Bunyan. Approximately 2 hours.

Mark Bunyan

Following on the success of ‘Private Member’ in the last series, Mark is dusting off this hectic Ortonesque screwball comedy set in a Bishop’s palace.

The Archdeacon lusts after the Housekeeper; the Bishop lusts after the drink’s cabinet; the Pick-Up lusts after anything that moves; Dr Blair lusts after demons to exorcise; Mrs Blair doesn’t get much lust, unfortunately.

The new Curate, a mistake, doesn’t approve of lust in any of its forms. And then there are the self-locking French windows, and the small matter of the Treasure.

Read more Information and the Script


ME AND MR MANDEL (1979)

8 June at 7.30 p.m.

A monologue by Eric Presland and performed Mark Bunyan. Approximately 25 minutes.

An old Irishman, an alcoholic, goes to a Citizen’s Advice Bureau for help to get the death grant to be able to bury his oldest friend. An old Irishman, an alcoholic, goes to a Citizen’s Advice Bureau for help to get the death grant to be able to bury his oldest friend.

Read more Information and the Script


GRAND PASSION (1989)

8 June 2021 (follows Me and Mr Mandel)

A monologue by Eric Presland performed by Steve Mackay. 40 minutes.

Eric Presland

The thoughts of a man whose younger lover is having sex with someone else in the next room and the walls are very thin. Is this a one-night stand, or will it change things for ever?

Can he overcome those murderous revenge fantasies? “You’re just going to turn yourself into the sort of person Alan won’t want to know.”

Read more Information and the Script


LEATHER (1990)

15 June at 7 p.m.

By Eric Presland. Approximately 150 minutes.

The most controversial play that Homo Promos has ever produced, and the one which people keep asking to see again.

Matt in Leather

It played to packed houses at the Finborough Arms, despite an attempt by the brewery Taylor Walker to close it. 

Section 28, preventing the ‘promotion of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’ was also waved at us.

A play about gay domestic abuse, redolent of pain and violence in all its forms, consensual or not, from onstage ear-piercing, SM scenes, through British Movement attacks to a fisting rape.

Physical abuse is paralleled by mental control, and the erosion of any sense of worth. As one of the characters says, “You can’t rape nothing.” Two members of the original cast, Matthew Hodson and Keith Bursnall, will be appearing, and the author will be available as well to talk about the play.

The play will be followed by a chance to discuss the issues involved.

Male rape was first highlighted by Capital Gay in two four-page centre spreads after Heaven nightclub used a rape scene as its Halloween ‘entertainment’ in 1983.

Presland was one of the journalists who worked on that exposé, and the experience fed into Leather, which was completed in 1987, although it took three years to get a company together to stage it.

Gordon & Terry

When it was performed it was the first play to deal with the subject within the gay community. 

Many objected violently to any suggestion that it was a common occurrence and might draw on impulses inherent in most people. 

The reviews were mostly negative, because it was the subject matter, which was being reviewed, not the production.

Nowadays male rape and domestic abuse is acknowledged as a major stain on LGBT+ life. 

The latest statistics suggest 18% of gay men have suffered it at some time. There are now several charities which work to support male victims of abuse and violence.

Read more Information and the Script

The link for this performance is https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81117203452

To get the passcode, email homopromos@gmail.com

This performance will be a benefit for Stay Brave. To donate please go to www.staybrave.org.uk/donate.


SAUCE FOR THE GANDER & THE BERLIN BOY

22 June 2021 at 7.30 p.m.

By Peter Scott-Presland. 90 minutes including interval.

Two of the plays in ‘A GAY CENTURY’ (Nos 5 & 6) given another outing to rectify the deficiencies of the Zoom connections of some of the actors first time round.

1928 - SAUCE FOR THE GANDER: The Home Secretary, mini-Mussolini William Joynson-Hicks, is urged to prosecute The Well of Loneliness by the editor of the ‘Sunday Express’, James Douglas.

Mackenzie

Novelist Compton Mackenzie crashes in, demanding that his lesbian novel, Extraordinary Women, be prosecuted too. 

After all, he needs the publicity and the sales more than the fabulously wealthy Radclyffe Hall.

Competitive bidding follows, as Hall and Mackenzie each claim they are more subversive and dangerous than the other. A dialectical comedy.

Read more Information and the Script


ARNOLD AND CHERRY

29 June 2021 at 7.30 p.m.

By Glyn Carter with Patrick Kealey and Oriana Crystal. 75 minutes.

A new and charming ‘problem play’ about an intelligent eighty-five-year-old gay professor in a residential home who is terrified he is losing his marbles and will be forced to give up power over his affairs.

A hideous prison-like care home beckons. He’s supported in his concerns by a care worker, Cherry, who has a boyfriend, Jamie. However, the manager of the home, Alice, has another more sinister agenda. An all-too-plausible reworking of Gaslight.


UNMUTE!

6 July 2021 at 7.30 p.m.

A Zoom revue by members of the company. A Quilt of scraps from the drawers of any company member who wants to contribute.

We hope for sketches, songs and poems from Peter, Mark, Patrick, Sue and others. And a bit of impro from everybody. Items include ‘Reftoration fketch’, ‘Meet the In-laws’, and ‘The Trial of Peter Pan’. Come to a madcap mummers’ finale.