The arts are key to queer confidence, says Killian Glynn, creator of the Northwest’s first LGBT theatre festival, Where We Are Now.
“I always say that representation is so important, and I think that’s because I never saw really saw people or characters that I could relate to in theatre when I was growing up.” So says Killian Glynn, creator of Where We Are Now, the Northwest’s first ever LGBT theatre festival, which takes place in Sligo this coming weekend.
With 13 plays in five venues over three days, Where We Are Now is a project that seeks to recognise and give an on-stage voice to members of rural communities in the Northwest and is the first collaboration of its kind between writers from across the globe and Irish directors and actors within Sligo and Leitrim.
Killian grew up in the neighbouring county Mayo and for a couple of years had “been humming and hawing over the possibility of a queer arts event that was set in Sligo but accessible to the entire Northwest.”
He went to The Rabbit’s Riot Theatre Company about producing the festival, who got on board immediately and it was all systems go for Where We Are Now.
“I think that bringing queer theatre into the cultural spectrum in Sligo is just a matter of telling stories that have a right to be told,” says Killian. “What I hope this festival does, in time, is create a bigger conversation in the Northwest. There are still pockets of the country where there’s a lot of misunderstanding about queer people and the idea is that people can come to see a show and walk out thinking in a more positive and inclusive way.”
Growing up gay in rural Ireland, Killian says he felt isolated. “I do think that we’re progressing and times are changing,” he says, “but there’s still definitely a lot of work that needs to be done. I personally haven’t seen a queer couple casually holding hands in the street in the Northwest and we need to ask ourselves why that is.”
Communication is the way forward, Killian feels, and performance can be a key driver. “To see someone like yourself on stage, on screen, at a concert, wherever it is, does wonders. It makes you think, huh, there’s someone who is a bit camp or a bit more androgynous or they wear wigs or have tattoos but they’re still out there and being amazing. I really feel like it makes a change. I really do.”
Where We Are Now takes place from June 8 to 10 in venues across Sligo town and in locations in Manorhamilton, Leitrim. Find out more and book tickets here.
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