In the broadest sense of the word, the Edinburgh Fringe might be considered unashamedly queer from the very beginning, defining itself separately from the established Edinburgh Festival. Perhaps the very act of making art despite a neo-liberal capitalist consensus – unproductive, wasteful, community-building and self-expressive art – should be celebrated as a radical, queer act.
Fringe theatre has long provided a home and a platform for those seeking to challenge norms of gender and sexuality. Unsurprisingly, these narratives have been dominated by those of white, cisgender, gay men – see the hit Margaret Thatcher: Queen of Soho, this year’s offering of 5 Guys Chillin’ about chemsex, Angels in America.
However, the following new writing up at the Fringe this year each confront and explore queer identities beyond this paradigm. It would be a grave mistake to be lulled into a false sense of complacency: the Daily Mail’s recent coverage of the High Court’s PrEP decision demonstrates that queer theatre is as pertinent and necessary as ever.
The erosion of an intergenerational relationship between two women against the backdrop of the housing crisis is the subject of Hannah Greenstreet’s beautiful tragicomedy. It is impossible to ignore the disproportionate impact of cuts to arts funding on our collective capacity to tell queer stories: Canon Warriors confronts this with great heart and wit in equal measure.
A gender-curious teen falls in love before us in this award-winning Irish show. The coming-of-age narrative is expertly updated, confronting the challenges posed by the increasingly digital dimension of human connection.
Devised from interviews with women and trans folk, this inventive production from Knotworks Theatre playfully and critically dissects notions of womanhood and gendered bodies. By putting inclusivity and lived experiences at the forefront of the creative process, Pussyfooting is acutely and refreshingly conscious of its political significance, amplifying those voices too often left out mainstream commentaries on feminism.
Searching for queer narratives lurking in the silences left in conventional understandings of history can be a lonely, fraught endeavour. Writer Howard Coase and emerging company Forward Arena ambitiously propose an alternative: consciously imagining what might have been, and what might be, based on the tidbits we have. Entangled stories from 1675, 1930, 1976 and 2223 collide in this riotous hour and ten minutes.