Though the end of lockdown seems to be in sight, we're not there yet, and many people are still wary of going out. Though some of our actors are now starting new projects in the real world, many of us are still in Zoomland, and anxious to entertain you, raise your spirits, and keep our finely honed performance skills - er - finely honed. Join us every Tuesday at 7.30 [7pm on June 15th] for the next ten weeks. You'll have a terrific range of plays, comedies, dramas by Peter Scott-Presland, #TerryBaum, #MarkBunyan and our lovely cast theyselves in the Homo Promos Zoom Revue, "Unmute!" on July 6th.
In three previous series of readings a company of twenty actors and musicians has performed over 50 plays over the period of a year, and raised money to give some support at least to actors who haven't been able to work. This series will last 11 weeks in total, and our aim is to raise £1200.
The full programme is:
TUES APRIL 27TH
The Key Hole – drama/documentary devised by Peter Scott-Presland. Approximately 60 minutes. Directed by the author.
James Pratt and John Smith were the last two men hanged in England for sodomy. They paid for their pleasures by swinging on a rope on 27 November 1835.
The play, in ballad form, follows the journey of James Pratt from his home in Deptford one hot August day, to the house in Blackfriars where he and Smith were caught in flagrante and arrested for buggery.
Or were they? The trial was so hasty and the defence so botched that we can’t know for certain. From there we go to Newgate, where Dickens visited the condemned cell, and thence to the scaffold, and an equally botched hanging by a drunk executioner.
(Public Hangman William Calcraft killed over 450 people in his long career, including 35 women.)
A community theatre project involving the whole company.
Multiple roles, gender-blind casting.
TUES MAY 4th
Immediate Family by Terry Baum. Monologue – Lucie Spence.
A middle-aged bull dyke talking to her partner of 30 years, currently in a coma with terminal cancer. Should she switch off the life support system? Will she be allowed to?
LERV: A vaudeville by Eric Presland
Jeff is hopelessly in love with Mutt who is in love with a chair. But Jeff is never without hope, in spite of every rebuff.
“Is that chair gay?”
“Well, it’s bentwood.”
TUES MAY 11th & 18TH
Jekyll & Hyde by Peter Scott-Presland
Postponed from the end of the last series, JEKYLL & HYDE is a full-length text intended to be set to music by Peter Murphy.
In this revisionist version the action is relocated to Edinburgh, where full-blown Calvinism bears down on a blighted population.
Philanthropic JEKYLL works to alleviate the sufferings of the poor, but his nemesis, HYDE, embodies all the desires of lust and blood which he has suppressed in the closet for so long.
DAVY, a lad who works the gentry on Calton Hill, completes the murderous team. We are presenting the play over two evenings with a cliff-hanger at the end of Act One in order to allow more time for socialising and discussion afterwards. Eact Act is about 60 minutes long.
TUES MAY 25th
Out of Time
The diaries of Keith Vaughan.
The diaries of Keith Vaughan, selected by Peter Scott-Presland. With Peter Boyle and Peter Scott-Presland.
Keith Vaughan was a post-war British painter who found it impossible to maintain relationships, locked as he was in a private world of pain.
Like his friends, Francis Bacon and John Minton, he destroyed everyone he was close to.
He also wrote the most vivid, sensational diaries from the 1930s to his suicide in 1977.
No detail of his life is left out, from his sweet affair with a Mexican boy Raoul, through his wartime arrest as a German spy, his enthusiastic invention of the Electronic Masturbator, and his blackly comic wrestling with a colostomy bag. A revelation.
TUES JUNE 1st
Mysterious Ways by Mark Bunyan, directed by the author.
Following on the success of ‘Private Member’ in the last series, Mark is dusting off this hectic Ortonesque screwball comedy set in a Bishop’s palace.
The Archdeacon lusts after the Housekeeper; the Bishop lusts after the drink’s cabinet; the Pick-Up lusts after anything that moves; Dr Blair lusts after demons to exorcise; Mrs Blair doesn’t get much lust, unfortunately.
The new Curate, a mistake, doesn’t approve of lust in any of its forms. And then there are the self-locking French windows, and the small matter of the Treasure.
TUES JUNE 8th
Grand Passion by Eric Presland. Performed by Steve Mackay
The thoughts of a man whose younger lover is having sex with someone else in the next room. The walls are very thin… Can he overcome those murderous revenge fantasies?
Me and Mr Mandel by Eric Presland. Monologue – Mark Bunyan.
An old Irishman goes to social services to get a death grant to be able to bury his oldest friend. Is this a gay relationship? Does it matter?
TUES 15th June NOTE EARLY START AT 7PM.
Leather by Eric Presland
The most controversial play that Homo Promos has ever produced, and the one which people keep asking to see again. It played to packed houses at the Finborough Arms, despite an attempt by the brewery to close it. Section 28, preventing the ‘promotion of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship’ was also waved at us.
A play about gay domestic abuse, redolent of pain and violence in all its forms, consensual or not, from onstage ear-piercing, SM scenes, through British Movement attacks to a fisting rape.
Physical abuse is paralleled by mental control, and the erosion of any sense of worth. As one of the characters says, “You can’t rape nothing.” Two members of the original cast, Matthew Hodson and Keith Bursnall, will be appearing, and the author will be available as well to talk about the play.
The play will be followed by a chance to discuss the issues involved.
Male rape was first highlighted by Capital Gay in two four-page centre spreads after Heaven nightclub used a rape scene as its Halloween ‘entertainment’ in 1983.
Presland was one of the journalists who worked on that exposé, and the experience fed into 'Leather', which was completed in 1987, although it took three years to get a company together to stage it.
When it was performed it was the first play to deal with the subject of domestic abuse within the gay community. Many objected violently to any suggestion that it was a common occurrence and might draw on impulses inherent in most people.
The reviews were mostly negative, because it was the subject matter which was being reviewed, not the production.
Nowadays male rape and domestic abuse is acknowledged as a major stain on LGBT+ life. The latest statistics suggest 18% of gay men have suffered it at some time. There are now several charities which work to support male victims of abuse and violence.
This performance will be a benefit for Stay Brave, a charity offering support to those who have experienced domestic abuse and rape. To donate please go to www.staybrave.org.uk/donate.
TUES 22nd JUNE
Two repeat performances of popular episodes from 'A Gay Century', to get better recordings than last time round.
1928 - SAUCE FOR THE GANDER: The Home Secretary, mini-Mussolini William Joynson-Hicks, is urged to prosecute The Well of Loneliness by the editor of the ‘Sunday Express’, James Douglas.
Novelist Compton Mackenzie crashes in, demanding that his lesbian novel, Extraordinary Women, be prosecuted too.
After all, he needs the publicity and the sales more than the fabulously wealthy Radclyffe Hall.
Competitive bidding follows, as Hall and Mackenzie each claim they are more subversive and dangerous than the other. A dialectical comedy.
1932 - THE BERLIN BOY: Pauli may sell his body in Berlin, but he is an innocent country boy who dreams of his Ideal Friend and a better life with a rich older man.
He is wide open to exploitation by Gerald, a shady Englishman who promises him the earth. His best friend, Lotte, a lesbian chanteuse in the clubs, is powerless to open his eyes.
Isherwood’s Berlin is revisited with clearer eyes and more political savvy. Nowadays we would call this sex tourism, and exploitation.
TUES 29th JUNE
Arnold and Cherry, by Glyn Carter.
A new and charming ‘problem play’ about an intelligent 85-year-old gay professor in a residential home who is terrified he is losing his marbles. He’s supported by a care worker, Cherry, who has a boyfriend, Jamie. The manager of the home, Alice, has another, more sinister, agenda. Not a great stretch in terms of rehearsals.
TUES 6th JULY
Unmute! [Provisional title]
The Homo Promos Zoom Revue
Open to everyone who wants to take part, either by writing or performing. Not a free-for-all, however – it will need some scripting and co-ordinating if it’s to be as much fun for an audience as the cast. I’m hoping that the writers within the group will contribute material. Plus of course the essential ingredient - YOUR GOOD SELVES.