My EQView feature this week is on Outings, a new show premiering at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, featuring true-life coming out stories from LGBT men and women around the globe. It explores how they came out and what effect it has had on their lives.
I interviewed Matthew Baldwin, who co-wrote the show with Thomas Hescott, to find out how the show came about, what inspired them to choose this particular topic, and what they were hoping the show would achieve.
My EQView interview with Matthew Baldwin is here:
Cut and pasted from the EQView website:
OUTINGS – MEET THE WRITER – MATTHEW BALDWIN
Outings is a new show, premiering at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe, featuring true-life coming out stories from LGBT men and women around the globe, exploring how they came out and what effect it has had on their lives. I interviewed Matthew Baldwin, who co-wrote the show with Thomas Hescott, to find out how the show came about, what inspired them to choose this particular topic, and what they were hoping the show would achieve.
EQView: How did Outings originate and why did you choose coming out as the theme for your new show?
Matthew Baldwin: We were all delighted when Tom Daley came out. It was inspirational to young people and we were delighted with the reaction to his coming out.
That made us think about all the other people before who came out despite the risks they faced, and the people nowadays who may also face risks because of their families or the communities in which they live.
Our old show The Act was heavily influenced by the story of Peter Wildeblood. He was prosecuted in the 1950s in England. He stood in the dock and the judge asked him if he was “an invert” and he said “Yes”. It’s the first Outing, if you like, in modern gay politics in the UK. So I guess we wanted to explore that.
We also knew that the subject is a rich vein for comedy and pathos. Everyone’s story is in essence a family drama. Families are always a good place to start.
Some very high profile celebrities in film, TV and sports have come out recently. What difference has this made?
I think they are fantastic. Full stop. Tom Daley, Ian Thorpe we salute you!
Why is coming out such a life-changing moment?
Because you cannot take your place in the world, or even within your family, if you don’t have the freedom to pursue your own romantic and sexual destiny. In that sense coming out isn’t a choice. If you are going to be free and open and honest then you are “out”.
This is the second time you and Thomas Hescott have collaborated. What do you enjoy about working together?
We have known each other for a very long time, ever since we were 11 years old! So there is an easy shorthand between us and we can be honest without ever worrying about offending each other. We both know that we only have one agenda, to make the very best piece of theatre possible. Beyond that we both have our different strengths (and weaknesses!) but it’s the way we communicate that makes collaboration successful.
How did you find and choose the real coming out stories featured in the show?
We had many different avenues for collecting our coming out stories. We approached people we knew or knew of. Some people approached us when they heard about the project. We made contact with youth groups, the people on the cutting edge of this issue, on the rock face. And we also invited submissions online through our website http://www.outingstheshow.com/. Stephen Fry and Mark Gatiss supported the project in the Twittersphere so we had lots of different angles.
When the stories came in we looked for ones that made us laugh, cry or gasp. We tried not to cover the same ground twice. We tried to put them in an order that would flow nicely.
What was your own personal experience of coming out?
We had very easy comings out. Very undramatic. Nice parents and siblings. Not the kind of stories we could use for this!
How did you find/choose your actors?
We always wanted to draw from the incredible talent pool of the Edinburgh Festival. We wanted comics. And the text was always intended to be read, not learned. Even considering the talent pool we feel we have done well! The cast are fantastic. The sexuality of cast members was not a consideration at all. But we knew we wanted two boys and two girls.
How did you find/choose your guest stars?
Our guest stars are drawn from the constellation that is in Edinburgh. From Scott Capurro to Jim Davidson!
Will the show evolve over the course of its Edinburgh run?
We are free to make changes if something happens or if we receive more stories. We always want to make changes to everything we write.
Did you have a particular purpose in mind when you were writing the show?
We know that for every handsome, rich, successful person who comes out there is a kid sitting at home who is none of those things. There is a kid who is scared and lonely and feels shitty about themselves. This is for them.
Outings is playing at 1pm daily, at Fringe Venue 14, the Gilded Balloon, until 25 August.
Follow the link to the Outings website: