Green Carnation Company are staging their debut production of Alexi Kaye-Campbell’s gripping drama at the Hope Mill Theatre. The Pride is a gay drama split across decades that switches between alternative timelines following a love triangle between three characters.
Set in both 1958 and 2008, we watch how differently their lives play out dependent on the decade they inhabit. Exploring changing attitudes to sexuality, intimacy and identity, I spoke to director of the production Dan Jarvis about telling this story in Manchester
“After doing a lot of R&D work in Manchester I wanted to do a play off my own back, but not until I’d found the play I really wanted to do,” Dan explained. “I was in the National Theatre bookshop having a browse, picked up a play called The Pride and absolutely fell in love with it. After putting a photo of it on Instagram, Dan Ellis who I vaguely knew commented saying how much he loved it and that he wanted to do it in Cheshire but the theatre said it was too controversial.” The rest was history as they decided to collaborate and co-direct the production.
With an aim to become a theatre company that is quality first, but also touches on themes and issues within the LGBT community, Dan explained how they wanted to examine the current LGBT community and create discussions around that. “Alongside just doing the play, we are doing programmes around it too,” Dan said. “We have commissioned three articles from academics about themes in the piece that are in our free programme, we’re making short films and really trying to stimulate discussion.”
They first approached the Hope Mill Theatre because of how much they love the intimacy of the space. “I love the aesthetic and wanted to attract a fresh, young audience and the Hope Mill Theatre really has that,” Dan said. “Luckily Joe Houston wanted to take that leap of faith and now we’ve sold out four nights.”
Whilst some describe it as a time travelling play, Dan emphasised that it’s two stories in two parallel timelines. “It’s about the way those two stories from 1958 and 2008 weave together,” he said. “So the consequences in one timeline will affect something that happens in the other. Ultimately it’s about Philip, a repressed homosexual man in the 50s, an era where he couldn’t be that.”
Following the lives of Philip, Olivier and Sylvia we see them live their lives out in two completely different eras. One where Sylvia and Oliver are a couple and Philip is desperately in love with Oliver but can’t do anything about it, and one where Oliver and Philip are a couple going through a break up and Sylvia is the friend trying to keep them together. “It’s beautiful writing and has some deep, rich and beautifully flawed characters,” Dan said.
“It’s about the gay community today and really shows where we have come from and how much has been won over the last 50 years.,” Dan said. “However, one thing I love about the play is that it isn’t saying ‘we’ve made it and everything is okay’ as there are new issues and demons we as a community are facing.”
“There are a lot more plays and musicals about coming out which is really important but there aren’t many written about life after coming out, which this play absolutely does.”
Dan really wants people to watch the play and go away seeing both what has been done and what still needs doing. “There are a lot of themes around mental health and this sense of shame in the LGBT community and I just think we need to be better about talking about that,” he said. “I also want people to leave crying, laughing and thinking it was a beautiful piece of theatre having found it very moving.”
The Pride is on at the Hope Mill Theatre from the 16 – 20 of October, tickets and information can be found online here.