Daniel Fulvio and Martin Moriarty, the joint artistic directors of Inky Cloak, reveal what’s been behind their new show at the Albany, We Raise Our Hands In The Sanctuary, which combines drama, contemporary dance and a clubbing soundtrack to tell a gay friendship story rooted in queer spaces. This week LGBTQ Arts’ Amie Taylor found out a little bit more about their work on this piece.
AT: What inspired you to set up Inky Cloak?
DF/MM: We wanted to tell LGBTQ stories that were being overlooked in the current theatrical landscape in this country, which is part of the paradox of the enormous progress that has been achieved in the past two decades. While we have equal marriage, an equal age of consent, laws against workplace discrimination and no Section 28 any more, we no longer have most of the radical theatre companies that helped change people’s minds, like Gay Sweatshop. And thanks to rampant gentrification sweeping away our pubs and clubs, we now have fewer spaces where we find communal liberation with our LGBTQ brothers and sisters –themes that are dear to our hearts and very much at the forefront of this new show.
AT: What are your aims and ethos as a company?
DF/MM: We aim to tell stories about people at the margins in bold, experimental ways by combining different performance disciplines and exploring unusual takes on theatrical space. Our first show, Cover Her Face, transformed Webster’s Duchess Of Malfi into the trans heroine of a 1950s ‘honour killing’ tragedy, bringing together performers from the theatrical and experimental cabaret traditions to recreate the greater diversity of the LGBT scene of the era, and making an immersive set out of the main space at Bethnal Green Working Men’s Club.
AT: What inspired you to make We Raise Our Hands In The Sanctuary?
DF/MM: We first met when Martin was DJ-ing at The Friendly Society bar in Soho, and club culture has been a major element of both of our lives before and since. Our initial starting point was the friendship between black gay New York DJs Frankie Knuckles and Larry Levan, both associated with epochal clubs (Frankie at the Warehouse in Chicago, Larry at the Paradise Garage in New York). But rather than try to write something about them, we started work on something fictional set in 1970s New York, which was the version we researched and developed with the support of the Albany’s Hatched new writing programme nearly two years ago. But after the scratch, we had a coffee with someone who had enjoyed what we’d done but who asked us why we hadn’t set it in London. And the more we thought about that, the more we realised that was the road we wanted to travel. The New York underground gay disco scene of the 70s and 80s is so well-documented, but our own equivalent much less so. And the more we talked to people on the scene in the era, including promoters like Steve Swindells (The Lift, Jungle) and DJs like Jeffrey Hinton (Taboo, Queer Nation), the more we became captivated by the time. We might think we have moved on since then, and we have, but there are things we have lost along the way.
AT: What would you most like us to know about this piece?
DF/MM: First that this is a play about gay friendship, not a theme that is represented on stage as much as sex and romance has been, but something that is so fantastically important to LGBTQ people – still – when our relationships to family can range from the complicated to the downright terrible.
Second, although it’s set in the 1980s, we hope that it really speaks to the now, most especially the current threat to queer spaces posed by hyper-gentrification of the property market that is destroying all the buildings where people used to be able to find a collective, ecstatic alternative to hardship, homophobia and other forms of discrimination.
Third, it features some brilliant contemporary dance incorporating club and street styles from body-popping to vogueing that mixes in and out of the dramatic narrative, over a soundtrack that evolves from post-disco boogie through to early house and with a couple of forays into art-rock and Eurodisco to mirror a full range of what you might have heard on the LGBTQ underground scene of the era.
AT: What do you hope audiences will take away from watching?
DF/MM: The desire to go out dancing! And to whet their appetite to help one of the brilliant campaigns that are trying their damnedest to halt the forward march of corporate property development, such as RVT Future, Save The Black Cap and Friends of the Joiners’ Arms.
AT: Describe this piece in 6 words?
DF/MM: 1980s gay friendship underground club fable.
AT: What are you working on next?
DF/MM: We’re beginning to work on a new project rooted in the experience and memories of older LGBT people.
AT: Thank you so much for speaking with The LGBTQ Arts Review today.
You can see We Raise Our Hands in the Sanctuary at The Albany (Deptford) until 11th February 2017. Booking.