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Lets talk about sex writes Jason Bradbury and Matthew Kyne Baskott

Matthew Kyne Baskott and Jason Bradbury from Hello Mozart Theatre take us through some of the LGBTIQ+ offerings at VAULT Festival. Hello Mozart Theatre produces contemporary work that is dark but full of heart. We are all about empathy. In a world increasingly torn apart by strong men, where competition divides and rules us, we bring you stories of human connection, however, troubled and brief these may be.

“Sex is the loneliest thing you can do” says a distraught Blaize in a rare moment of vulnerability, one of the protagonists of our play Consumables. It comes at a moment where both men’s fantasy lives lay tattered in the plastic coated space between them, their masks having finally slipped away to reveal the soft tissue beneath.   

For at it’s heart, Consumables is a tense but ultimately poignant play about two people from different sides of the street, who are imprisoned by the very thing that was once heralded as the great liberator; sex. That’s not to say that we think it’s bad; far from it. I for one love it. We just don’t think things are as clear cut as that.

Sex for me has always been performative. By day I denounce the patriarchy to anyone who will listen and then at night I revel in the toxicity of it all because I like the smell of his sweat. At least I did until I met this older guy online. I assumed he’d want to destroy me but he didn’t. He just wanted to be held. He told me his parents were dying. He told me he had no one to talk to. He told me that this was the closest he’d been to a man in years and still there was a layer of fabric between us, albeit a very thin and skimpy one. I looked for him again online but his profile had been deleted. It made me think about all the digital faces that I’d deleted.

I thought about all those times I obsessed over seeing a male body when I was young, how I couldn’t wait for Saturday nights when Ulrika Johnson would throw some slant contender into the gladiators’ pit of leotards and lycra. Now it’s everywhere. I was looking through Instagram the other day and came across a guy’s selfie in running shorts. He used the hashtag bulge to highlight his assets. I wanted to be pissed off at the fact that he’d just reduced himself to such a blatant commodity but if I’m honest, I’m just jealous that he had more to sell.

I fetishise the body too much. It’s an inner conflict. It’s one of the interesting aspects of our play Consumables. How do we stage a play about the oppressive effects of a sexually liberalised society on two individuals, without making it sexy? How do we take a character whose entire life has been exploited for the sexual gratification of others without exploiting the actor who represents him in the here and now? The truth is you can’t, not really. I can’t tell you what to find titillating or repulsive. You strip away the uniform and all you are left with is the body alone on the stage. For me the naked male is an inherently weak symbol; there’s something quite beautiful about that.

Another play that deals with the male body in this year’s VAULT festival is Testosterone, a show about a trans male protagonist entering the men's changing room for the first time. Jason and I caught up with the show's writer Kit Redstone who noted “one of our main challenges with this show is breaking the taboo of the trans body. Our show includes nudity which we felt was important to broach. There is a real pressure both inside the trans community itself and in the media to 'pass' as a trans person, to mask the differences of the trans body. It felt vital to us to dispel the fear around trans bodies and all their variations and to celebrate them."

VAULT Festival is an increasingly diverse platform where a multitude of queer voices are speaking out. The label LGBTIQ+ is, for now at least, a necessary price tag but one that we don’t entirely feel comfortable with. Another creative who share’s this view is Amelia Stubberfield, whose debut solo show Borderline we are excited to see in week four. Amelia states “For me, the future of LGBTIQ+ theatre is a future where we don’t call it that – that the world is in a place where inclusion and representation is so fantastic we don’t define artists as “female Comedians” etc but just simply by the art they make and its merit – Comedians! I’m hoping for a state soon where we’ve smashed the Kyriarchy basically.Borderline, is a comic tale of living life on the edge and trying not to fall off. Navigating mental health, queer identities and feeling “different” with a deft comic touch.

VAULT Festival and other similar platforms are important avenues for underrepresented voices. Amelia also notes that “What is hopeful is that there are now far more access points to creating theatre and work that doesn't rely on mainstream theatre institutions. VAULT Festival and venues like Camden People's Theatre, Oval House and many more that regularly support emerging artists alongside the cabaret and comedy scenes means artists can be empowered to make work

We all have conflicting beliefs and ideas that challenge us on both an individual level and a societal one. We may disagree with each other about how we want to be represented or which of the many protected characteristics we should be prioritising but in truth, we feel that there shouldn’t be a hierarchy of needs. All voices matter, whether we agree with them or not. For us, two people crossing over from the film world, the thing that excites us the most about theatre and VAULT festival, in particular, is that we get to take more risks; the dialogue is in real time and the conversations continue into the bars and catacombs of Waterloo long into the night. It’s confronting, challenging and terrifying but boy it’s good to be heard.   

See below for a complete list of LGBTIQ+ work at this years VAULT Festival.
Check them out at vaultfestival.com now!
Bad Luck Cabaret
Brilliant Jerks
Catherine Bohart: Work In Progress
Dietrich: Natural Duty
Double Infemnity
Fuck, Marry, Kill
Gypsy Queen
If We Got Some More Cocaine I Could Show You How I Love You
Joe Sutherland: Model/Actress
Madonna or Whore
Margaret Thatcher Queen of Soho
Mark Bittlestone: Pity Laughs
Mary's Babies
Phoebe Walsh: I'll Have What She's Having
Sarah Keyworth: Dark Horse (Work In Progress)
The Breaks in You and I
The Poetry We Make
The Soft Subject (A Love Story)
Will Dalrymple: Man to Man