It's finally here! The eagerly anticipated Pride In Trafford Festival has kicked off today for its annual exploration and celebration of LGBTQ+ arts. Running until Saturday 20 May - and now in its fifth fabulous year, Pride in Trafford brings together an exciting and diverse range of established and up and coming performers, from comedy and cabaret to theatre and movement, whose work represents and showcases what it means to them to be out and proud in a changing and challenging world.
Launching this year’s festival earlier today was the annual flag raising event outside Waterside on the Plaza to mark The International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. There were speeches and song to accompany the flag raising alongside the Leader and Chief Executive of Trafford Council used the opportunity to officially declare the opening of Pride in Trafford 2023.
Launching on opening night and running across all four nights, is the world premiere of BI-TOPIA. Developed in partnership with Waterside & Creative Industries Trafford, this new one person show offers a ‘hilarious, honest and raw’ exploration of the authentic Bisexual experience. Directed by Rikki Beadle-Blair and created and performed by Sam Danson, BI-TOPIA depicts a world in war-time ruins, and with a LGBTQ+ life scattered across the stage, it bravely delves into the under- represented links between battling with poor mental health and dealing with one’s sexuality.
This is a semi-autobiographical and candid show that challenges societal norms. Both cathartic and bombastic, it drags you into the war-room when the enemies are all around, where the levels of anxiety are explosive, shame is coming in from the left flank and gay thoughts are sailing in from the east...This is war!
Taking inspiration from personal experiences and expanding to the wider LGBTQ+ narrative, BI-TOPIA sheds a very timely spotlight on the Bisexual experience and reveals real struggles with mental health and the therapy process, whilst also offering a platform to discuss maleness and societal perceptions of masculinity in a broader sense.
Accompanying this performance piece is an interactive visual installation also created by Sam Danson, depicting the same world in ruins, asking the viewer to re-build this warzone by contributing their experiences and vision for what their perfect inclusive world looks like, what would be missing? And what would be included?
This piece aims to explore what is not just a broken system for inclusivity, but one that never even worked to begin with. This, in the artist’s opinion, has meant LGBTQ+ people have always had to battle for equality, acceptance and validity.
Also on tonight's opening night, is The Chosen Haram, a two-hander, movement-based show, presented by Turtle Key Arts and Sadiq Ali with a unique take on circus. Performed almost entirely on two Chinese poles, this emotionally candid, heart-warming and high octane show fuses dance, movement and extraordinary physical strength all set to a banging soundtrack to tell the story of two gay men, their chance meeting through a dating app, the highs and lows of their subsequent relationship and the social, cultural and personal barriers they must overcome.
Laugh Riot returns for the Thursday night of Pride in Trafford 2023 – an evening of the best in alternative comedy. This year’s line-up includes Waterside favourite, Jonathan Mayor, a huge cult figure in comedy who will MC the evening in his own imitable style as well as multi-award nominated comedian, presenter, actor and writer Stephen Bailey, whose indecorous brand of gossipy humour has singled him out as one of the UK’s most sought-after talents; Marie Goulbourne - an original, authentic and self-effacing comic who speaks candidly about her life as an autistic oddball in the modern world; Rosie Wilby - an award-winning comedian, author, speaker and the creator of global hit podcast and book The Breakup Monologues.
Comedy is also the key ingredient in Lawrence Batley Theatre’s and Ketchup Productions dark comic production of Jesus, Jane, Mother & Me, coming to Pride in Trafford for one night only on Friday 19 May. A twisted coming-of-age story blending pitch black humour and heartache by award-winning playwright Philip Stokes, (Heroin(e)for Breakfast) the show explores family dynamics, who our idols are and just how hard life can be when you’re a little bit different. A certain famous, cruise-loving Yorkshire songstress – referenced in the title - may get a mention or two!
Pride in Trafford is not only a celebration of the diversity and broad range of queer arts and artists currently on the scene, it also offers a much needed outlet for the younger members of the LGBTQ+ community. To that end, Pride in Trafford will once again join forces with local groups – Gorse Hill Studios and Rainbow Reflections - to create a fun and free special creative, hands-on Pride evening for young people in Trafford.
As hate crime continues to rise, discourse around trans rights heightens and threats to our equal rights loom across the world, Pride in Trafford are working with community artists and LGBTQ+ young people to document the issues most important to them around sexuality, gender expression and identity, creating an outdoor installation entitled EMERGENCy.
Mini Pride is also an opportunity for young people and families to come together on Saturday 20 May from 12:00 – 16:00 to celebrate Pride and take part in fun, hands-on creative activities and interactive storytelling with the wonderful Curious Arts. Pride on the Plaza will run alongside this, throughout the afternoon, where local eaterie Mano a Bocca are hosting a free outdoor celebration on Waterside Plaza, with the chance to find out about local LGBTQ+ organisations. Part of this afternoon delight will feature two free outdoor performances by the wonderfully colourful and entertaining Eleni Edipidi’s Levantes Dance Theatre. Fusing contemporary circus with witty and visually arresting costumes, their popular Canape Art twins will dance and perform above a tastefully laid table of afternoon treats to present High Tea (with a twist). Expect glittery cakes, outrageous costumes and theatrical high jinx in an explosion of colour and silliness.
Concluding the four-day Pride in Trafford festivities on the Saturday evening is the Closing Party at Manoa Bocca, complete with pizza, comedy, cabaret and disco hosted by the infamous Belinda Scandal. You can enjoy a glass of Prosecco on arrival, followed by an informal dinner; includes wine on table, anti-pasti sharing platters, pizza / salad menu selection and mini desserts.
Cllr Tom Ross, Leader of Trafford Council says: “I’m delighted to see another thrilling Pride programme taking place at Waterside. We are so fortunate to have such a great theatre in our borough and they are brilliant at providing such a feast of events that will appeal to everyone. I feel particularly privileged to be helping launch the start of the festival and I will be looking forward to attending a number of events during the week.”
Producer for Pride in Traffford and Manager of Waterside, Darren Adams comments: “We are really proud of this year’s programme which features some thought-provoking and powerful pieces, some of which we are thrilled to have helped nurture and develop through our Creative Industries Trafford initiative. Interspersed with great comic moments and lighter shows, the programme is a real celebratory, meaningful and contemporary representation of LGBTQ+ culture and our community today. Our closing day promises a family-friendly and joyful coming together for all ages with outdoor art, free performances and mouthwatering pizza. What is there not to love?!”
This year Pride in Trafford is delighted to have on board as a festival sponsor, Trafford-based law firm Slater Heelis. Their generous support of the Festival will allow the team to enhance their engagement within the local community.