1623 Theatre Company, based at Quad, has announced they have successfully secured an Arts Council England grant for a new show about Lady Macbeth and identity, Lady M.
Lady M will explore the queerness of Lady Macbeth, and LGBTQIA (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Transsexual, Queer, Intersex/Interested and Asexual/Allies) identity through the relationship between the biography of drag artist Shane Lynch and the character arc of Shakespeare’s Lady Macbeth. Lynch will play a theatrical version of himself as he prepares to become an anxious tightrope-walking drag queen called Lady M, a unique combination of his own identity and that of Shakespeare’s creation.
Ben Spiller, artistic director of 1623 said, “Shakespeare creates a world of binary opposites in Macbeth. When they blur, tragedy kicks in. Lady Macbeth walks a tightrope between man and woman, anxiety and tranquility, night and day, drunkenness and sobriety, serpent and flower, blood and water, creator and destroyer, sleep and consciousness. She is liminal, she occupies space between these seeming opposites.
“Shane and I want to liberate her from Shakespeare’s play and place her in a non-binary world of fluidity, Shane’s world, an LGBTQIA world, our world. We will share her story with audiences from this viewpoint alongside Shane’s own fascinating biography, in which Lady Macbeth has haunted him since childhood in various forms (cartoon, text, TV, film, stage). The really exciting moments will be when the two stories come together and we all see ourselves in both Shane and Lady Macbeth.”
The show is supported by Arts Council England through the National Lottery, Derby Theatre and Derbyshire LGBT+. A month-long crowd funding campaign will be used to gain additional funding with members of Derbyshire’s LGBTQIA communities, who we will invite to take part in creative activities that tie in with the themes of Lady M and how Shakespeare speaks to us today.
The theatre company has also been crowdfunding toward a national tour of Lear/Cordelia, aimed at those with dementia, their families, friends and carers. Lear/Cordelia is a double-bill of Shakespeare and new writing that explores how dementia impacts on family life today. The first play is a radical reworking of King Lear and the second piece is a new play from the perspective of Lear’s youngest daughter. Both halves of the double-bill are inspired by the findings of an extensive research project by the theatre company that explore King Lear in the context of dementia through participatory activities in care homes.
Ben Spiller said, “Lear/Cordelia has been created by, with and for people whose lives are affected by dementia. It brings to light questions about who should care for our loved ones and what our responsibilities are. About 400 years ago, Shakespeare wrote a play about a man with dementia. Attitudes and care strategies have changed since then, so we’re reworking and responding to his play to reflect and question the world in which we live right now.”
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