Drama & Theatre Practice Fellow Dr Stephen M Hornby has been busy writing and producing an arts and archive project called “The Day The World Came To Huddersfield”. The project celebrated Pride 1981, the first time a Pride was held anywhere outside London. It had three elements to it: an archive hunt for images through the West Yorkshire Archive Service, a newly commissioned portrait exhibition from Ajamu X, and a play made up of monologues exploring the characters and events of that Pride.
The history bit: London Pride organisers decided to move the march to Huddersfield that year in protest against the police’s repeated raids on a local gay bar, The Gemini. The Gemini was the North of England’s best loved gay club and people would travel from miles around to the Huddersfield venue. Back before there was much of a night life for the LGBTQ+ community in nearby cities of Sheffield, Liverpool, Leeds and Manchester, Huddersfield was the place to be.
Stephen’s company, Inkbrew Productions commissioned the 10 monologues to capture the story of the Pride 1981 march. The monologues were written by Stephen himself, award-winning playwrights Abi Hynes and Peter Scott-Presland (who was on the original Pride 1981 march) and Hayden Sugden. Stephen hired recent TaPP alumna Olivia Schofield as one of the directors and Technical Theatre alumna Sabine Sulmeistere as Production Manager. Another lecturer, Luke Harrison and current student Chloe Davies also worked on the sound.
“The Day The World Came To Huddersfield” was staged performances at the Lawrence Batley Cellar Theatre, Huddersfield and the Kings Arms Theatre, Salford from 1st-3rd July 2022. The performances were funded by the Arts Council of England, Kirklees Council and Schools Out/LGBT+ History Month UK.
The show won two awards: the Greater Manchester Fringe Award for Best Drama and the Queer Lit inaugural award for Best LGBTQ+ Production. It also got some rave reviews:
“I cannot remember the last show I saw with a large cast in which every single actor shone. Although the actors were brilliant, praise for this must also go to the writers; such captivating tales with a common theme but so different in tone. We were taken on an emotional journey and were so invested in every character, the true mark of good writing.” – Reviewer No 9
Every character in the performance was perfect…This is a must see.” Ancoats Plus
“I can’t remember when such an equally strong cast, 10 in all, performed to such a high standard …Bravo to everyone involved in this production.” – Canal-St Media
“An immersive theatrical experience that deserves to be treasured.” – North-West End