• Ashleigh Owen


Updated: Jul 3, 2018

Hi Pals,

I've had the chance to digest and process what was an extremely eye-opening, heart warming, difficult, uplifting and emotional research and development week for my new project HIP HIP I'M GAY! which was held at Metal, Liverpool. For those of you who don't know, I'm creating a comedy cabaret that explores mental health issues within the LGBTQ+ community and what it means to be Queer in 2018. For the first two days of the week, I interviewed LGBTQ+ members of the community on a one-on-one basis to learn about their experiences of coming out and their thoughts on why 1 in 3 of the LGBTQ+ community are suffering. I interviewed 13 members of the public who identify as Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Pansexual and Queer, who have been diagnosed with Mental Health conditions such as: Depression, Bi-Polar, Borderline Personality Disorder, Anxiety and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. We talked about family, rejection, finding inner strength, biological families, chosen families, break-ups, break-downs, living a lie, living your truth, being sexualised, feeling lonely and isolated, being misunderstood, helping others and feeling like a burden. Each interview was audio recorded and I have also be writing transcripts of each interview in preparation for the next phase of the development which will include working with other performers to explore the material.

For the very first time artist Rebecca Clarke and I worked together to explore bisexuality and it's fair to say we fell in artistic love. We spent Day 3 trying to find a Bisexual Anthem and writing our own (extremely passive aggressive) Bisexual Anthem. We improvised scenes of indirect biphobia and explored what it would look like if David Attenborough Narrated the life of a bisexual. Here is some footage of our day together:

On Day 4 I held a Keynote Speaker Day which was open to the public.

Each presentation was followed by a Q&A and the guest speakers included:

-Joan Burnett from Liverpool Pride on what Pride do and why it is still needed.

-Tracy O'Hara from Merseyside Police on Hate Crime.

-Chris Porter from GYRO on the work they do with LGBTQ+ youth.

-Comedian and Recovery Learning Facilitator Shell Byron on her work and her experiences as a Stand-Up Comedian with Bi-Polar Disorder.

-Queer Artist and Facilitator Matt May on how his queerness and mental health experiences are tied together.

This was a brilliantly informative day and proved extremely beneficial for the development of the project as I had the opportunity to ask direct questions to specialists in fields surrounding the themes of the project.

On Day 5 I invited 12 LGBTQ+ performers to join me for an audition/workshop day.

We talked about the Mental Health struggles that come with being performers, we talked self care, we ranted about how people perceive us because of our sexual identity, we improvised scenes of indirect homophobia and biphobia and we began to create pieces around autobiographical material and identity. Performers from as far as London traveled up north to participate in this day and it was a truly special and bonding experience. Here is an email I received from one of the performers the next day, they perfectly capture the essence of the day.

All in all, the week went very smoothly, it was well planned and gave voice to members of the LGBTQ+ community of all genders, ages, sexualities and mental health experiences. I'm humbled by the positive responses and excitement that is already surrounding this project and I cannot wait to make HIP HIP I'M GAY!


© 2020 Ashleigh Owen