Hasbian R&D 2022 Supporting Document 
 Meet Beth 

Hello! I'm Beth.

I'm the writer/performer of Hasbian, an autobiographical theatre show based on my teenage diaries. The show is fun, comical, relaxed and uplifting, whilst also addressing issues of Biphobia in queer communities and the impact of Section 28 on LGBTQ+ Millennials.

 

I'm also the creator of Queer Diary Hasbian's accompanying LGBTQ+ community project. Queer Diary creates spaces for queer adults to share their teenage dairies and memories, combatting social isolation and loneliness (prevalent in LGBTQ+ communities and exacerbated by the pandemic and closure of queer spaces). 

My work aims to help queer people reclaim our joy and complexity in a world where our coming-of-age stories are often depicted as stereotypical trauma narratives on stage and screen.

As a performer & theatre-maker with a special interest in gender & LGBTQ+ representation in performing arts, I ​have experience and training in acting, devising, cabaret & drag . I love performing in unconventional settings and bringing audiences into theatres for the first time. I've produced shows and events which have played to sold-out audiences of 150+, at both conventional fringe theatres and LGBTQ+ cabaret bars and clubs.

 

I'm the founder and co-director of Bechdel Theatre and a founding member of The Family Jewels drag king collective.

I've performed at:

Soho Theatre, The Southbank Centre, Lezfest, Bi Pride UK, Theatre Deli Camberwell, Funny Women, DIY Space Peckham, VAULT Festival, Edinburgh Fringe, Camden Fringe, Omnibus Theatre Clapham, Camden People's Theatre, Above The Arts, The Two Brewers, Bethnal Green Working Men's Club, The Glory, and The Royal Vauxhall Tavern.

I've facilitated creative workshops, discussions, panels and talks at:

Spotlight, Bristol University, Roehampton University, Florida State University, Oregon University, The Mono Box, The Pleasance, Ovalhouse, The Barbican, The Science Gallery, Kings College London, The Bush, Theatre 503, Verve Festival, Nomadic Youth, Oxford Playhouse, and L Fest (where I received an award nomination for Best Workshop at L Fest).

I've trained at:

Goldsmiths University (Drama & English), London School of Dramatic Art (Acting), Soho Theatre (Cabaret & Comedy), Rubyyy Jones school of Queerlesque (Cabaret), Bryony Kimmings Artist Workshops (Autobiographical Theatre), Angela Clerkin's Through The Door (Improvisation), London Devised Theatre Intensive (Devising), The Barbican Centre (Facilitation for Creative Workshops & Interactive Tours), and Croydon Emerging Writers at Stanley Arts (Playwriting).

 

 The Story So Far 

I first started reading my teenage diary aloud in 2018 at an event called Dear Diary.

 

It was fun, exhilarating and liberating. I enjoyed a warm response from the audience and producer of the night, so I decided to turn my diary readings into a script called Hasbian; after receiving positive and encouraging feedback from the Producer of Dear Diary.

 

In 2019 I developed Hasbian into an hour-long comedy solo show, incorporating stories to contextualise my diaries for audiences, deliving deeper into my experiences of biphobia and Section 28.

I tested the show in 'scratch' performances with the support of Omnibus Theatre, The Glory, The Pleasance, and The Bunker Theatre.

Rreading my diary in front of a projected image of my teenage self
Queer-Diary_A4.png

Hasbian was programmed at Camden People's Theatre, with a Queer Diary community engagement event booked at The Apple Tree LGBTQ+ pub in Spring 2020. Both were cancelled due to lockdown.

During lockdown in 2020 I started hosting Queer Diary nights live on Zoom, thanks to the support of an LGBTQ+ online community called QAF Space & an ACE emergency grant.

 

I've since hosted Queer Diary on a regular basis, raising money for organisations supporting queer youth, community & education. Queer Diary has had audiences & participants from across the world - as far away as France, Portugal, Canada & South America. 

In 2021 an R&D of Hasbian was supported by ACE, Camden People's Theatre and London Performance Studios.

The first R&D of Hasbian in 2021 enabled me to:
 

  • Hire a creative team for the first time

  • Adapt the script to incorporate COVID-safety measures

  • Begin creating and planning design of the production

 

We shared the hour-long version of Hasbian for an audience of 15 people in July 2021.

In summer 2021 we also held the first ever in-person Queer Diary at Omnibus Theatre in Clapham.


We also experimented with new ways for LGBTQ+ participants to engage with Queer Diary. We created an exhibition of artefacts from their queer teenage years, and a Zine, in collaboration with those who had read their diaries online.

 Hasbian Audience Feedback 

“Excellent, genuine rapport with the audience. Honest and highly personal experience of growing up LGBTQ+” 
 

“Visually superb. A Pandora's box of delightful personal gems.” 
 

“A romp through complex sexuality, music, desire and drama.”
 

 “A celebration of bisexuality, and a representation of how difficult it is to identify yourself as bi when bi-erasure is real.” 

 

“An amazing show about self-discovery and sexual identity recounted through a real teenage diary (with all names changed to 00's icons to protect the innocent)”
 

“A bisexual Wizard of Oz for the early internet generation.”

“Beth is brilliant with the audience. I learnt loads about 1990's/00's teen culture.”

“I am straight but this brought up so many teenage memories.”

 

“As a bisexual who grew up in a similar time period this felt so relatable. Growing up in London I did not have the same confidence; so I feel like I experienced what it could have been like growing up with more confidence in my non-straight sexuality”

🎙  Listen to Beth talking about Hasbian in 2019 on The Coming Out Tapes podcast.
📻 Listen to Beth talking about Queer Diary in 2020 on Resonance FM  (interview at 19:22)
 What's Next ? 

Hasbian's 2021 R&D taught me about covid-safe working, and allowed me to begin valuable relationships with a team of creative freelancers through a hybrid of online and in-person collaboration.

In January 2022 we're being supported by Stanley Arts to further develop the show with a second R&D and sharing in their space.

Stanley Arts Support Letter

Plans include: 

  • Making the show more accessible: Integrating creative audio description into the script, exploring ways to artistically incorporate captions into the projections.

  • Developing the design: experimenting more with projection, lighting, and sound, to achieve a higher artistic quality within the production values.

  • Expanding the team with a Set Designer to plan and build a full bespoke set for the show (set pictured is an old box from my house!), and a Stage Manager to co-ordinate the team.

  • Growing my existing connection with local LGBTQ+ audiences in the Croydon & South London area.

In the longer term future, we hope to stage a full-scale run in London of Hasbian in 2022, and tour the UK in 2023.

 Community Engagement 
 Queer Diary Feedback 

“A fun, friendly sharing where we can pretend to be shocked at everyone else's adolescent high jinks. Very welcoming to all identities.”

 

“It'll prove that you weren't as weird as you thought you were - or that we're all as weird as each other.”

 

“It's like the ‘Mortified’ podcast, but all queer!!!”

 

“SO GOOD! Very heartwarming and relatable.”

"Loved chatting with other people. And I got my song request in!"

"It was touching! I honestly felt if I met everyone in school they'd be my friends."

"Beth hosted so well, there was a well-thought out use of when to play music, when the host could share something etc. This instinct added to how well the event flowed."

 

"Bits of brilliance coming through from lots of people throughout. It was a joy to be a part of."

Having hosted Queer Diary events for 18 months, I've developed a strong understanding of the variety of ways participants like to engage with this project to share something from their teenage years.

From speaking to and surveying participants I have discovered:

  • Some participants love sharing (both on stage or through Zoom) and are excited from the start. Others want to join in, but need more support and encouragement to express themselves confidently.

  • Online and in-person Queer Diary events attract different people: Zoom audiences are national/international, in-person audiences are hyper-local. Both audiences find value in connecting with other LGBTQ+ people, either through reading or submitting something themselves, or by listening to readings and interacting with fellow audience members.

  • There is a keen interest from participants in having a choice of different ways to engage.

 

So far, Queer Diary participants have explored:

  • Reading a teenage diary aloud to an audience

  • Reading some creative writing from their youth

  • Telling audiences about a memory from their past

  • Submitting a photo, drawing or object for an exhibition

  • Choosing a song for the event playlist that takes them down memory lane

  • Contributing to a zine (a 'zine' is small book made using collaging & photocopying - popular in DIY, feminist and queer culture)

 Queer Diary Zine 

For 2022, I'm designing a workshop offering Queer Diary participants the chance to explore other forms of creative expression, and new mediums through which to share their experiences and memories. As a result this will provide people who don't like being in the spotlight a new option to take part in Queer Diary in a more private, less public way.

Alongside a "traditional" Queer Diary evening (where a few people choose to share diaries or other writings by reading them aloud), I'll facilitate a creative workshop where LGBTQ+ people are invited to bring something they love from their youth (a favourite object, a picture, piece of music, or treasured memory).

 

Workshop participants will use their object or memory as a springboard to inspire them as they explore zine-making, poetry and storytelling, using free-writing and free-drawing exercises, coloured paper, pens, and pritt-sticks.

 

The aim is to encourage adults with marginalised sexual and gender identities to re-claim their own narrative from stereotypes about queer trauma, to have fun playing with 'framing' an object or memory in a creative way that gives them agency and feels empowering.

 

Participants will also be given chance to share their work at a Queer Diary live reading event, in front of a small audience of LGBTQ+ people and allies, if they feel confident and enthusiastic to do so.

 Poem by a Queer Diary Participant 
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