Friday, 02 November 2018 16:03

Comes As You Are for festival of trans, non-binary and gender queer theatre

A festival of trans, non-binary and gender queer theatre comes to Lighthouse, Poole’s Centre for the Arts from 29 November – 1 December as Camden People’s Theatre take over the venue with a host of performances and workshops from gender-anarchists with more questions than answers.

In the last few years, progressive thinking about gender has gone mainstream, and understanding has developed of gender as infinite variety. More and more individuals are reclaiming the right to define their genders, their bodies and their selves. 

Come As You Are is a pop-up festival headlined by the award-winning show Bullish by Milk Presents. It will celebrate and interrogate all the world’s issues regarding female, male, between and beyond.

Opening the festival on 29 November, a Scratch Night will feature three 20-minute performances of explosive new work from local trans, non-binary and gender queer artists. Expect brand new works in progress, never-before-seen ideas and some of the freshest work from the most innovative and exciting local theatre-makers, based around the themes of Come As You Are.

Headlining on all three days of the festival, Milk Presents, the makers of smash hit Joan (Off West End, Fringe First and Stage Award winner) present Bullish. Bullish pits ancient mythology against modern gender navigation to furiously disrupt, traverse and rewrite the rulebook. Stepping into the ring with a gender fierce ensemble of hopers and renegades, Bullish is a story about packing, passing, and gambling your way out of the labyrinth. This new mythical play with songs negotiates ancient and new territories in trans-masculine gender and identity. Each performance will be captioned by the Difference Engine, which sends captions to audience member’s mobile phones or tablets.

On 30 November Non-Binary Electro Hour brings together noise about queer life, and desire for queer/trans bodies, with a brief punk history of drag outside the boxes – from queer stars of stage and screen to the gender-bending icons of today. Expect songs, sci fi, strip-tease, and spoken word. This modern-day revue is a messed up take on what it’s like to be in-between categories. 

As part of the Come As You Are Festival, Lighthouse and Camden People’s Theatre partner with local trans and LGBTQIA+ organisations to curate a panel discussion on 1 December exploring experiences and issues that are pertinent to the local trans, non-binary and gender queer community in Dorset. The discussion will look at the varying perceptions of gender identity throughout history, seeing how they have (or haven't changed), and what they are in 2018. The panel is interested not just in Western cultures but a more global perspective, considering where the idea that cis-gender as the 'norm' for the human race has come from. Who decides what is 'normal'? How have the performing arts impacted on these perceptions? And what more can they do?

The festival culminates in a double-bill of works in the Sherling Studio on 1 December. I’m Bitter About Glitter is a collaboration between mother and child. Liz Clarke has worked with her nine-year-old son Felix to create a story full of grit and sparkle; a gentle exploration of how gender affects the choices we’re given and the roles we can play.  The piece – originally commissioned by Tom Marshman (Deuce) and intended for children and adults to enjoy together – welcomes adult audiences as part of the Come As You Are Festival. In it, mother and son delve into questions of agency, representation and accepted norms about motherhood, children and the family. It’s for the child in you, your nieces, brothers, sisters and future people. It’s for anyone who’s ever been small with big questions, a big imagination and whose family doesn’t quite fit inside the box. Expect a joy-filled adventure with a message of hope for the future.

Deuce, the second half of the double-bill explores the 30th anniversary of the introduction of Section 28, the infamous legislation that banned local authorities from ‘promoting’ homosexuality and had a profoundly damaging effect on the ability to be visible as a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer (LGBTQ) person without fear of, or actual, reprisal. Growing up in the grip of clause 28 Tom and Rachael took their role models where they could find them, from Martina Navratilova, The Fall Guy, Princess Leigh to Cindy and KD Lang.

Deuce explores female masculinities and male femininities using pop cultural references to unpick historical representations of gender non-conformity and reinsert/instate them (and their relevance) into contemporary ‘queer’ discourse.

Scratch Night
Thursday 29 November at 6.30pm (Sherling Studio)
Tickets £5

Milk Presents Bullish
Thursday 29 November – Saturday 1 December at 8pm (Sherling Studio)
Tickets: £14
Age guidance 12+

Non-Binary Electro Hour
Friday 30 November at 9.30pm (Sherling Studio)
Tickets: £12

Come As You Are Panel Discussion
Saturday 1 December at 3pm (Cinema)

I’m Bitter About Glitter / Deuce
Saturday 1 December at 5.30pm (Sherling Studio)
Tickets: £12

Tickets for all Come As You Are events are on sale now at the Lighthouse ticket office. Call 01202 280000 or book online at