Salford’s Connor Cooper is one of 10 writers whose brand-new work has been selected for its annual LGBTQ+ new writing showcase – OutStageUs.
The acclaimed, theatrical team behind the 2021 play Be More Martyn Hive North – is delighted to announce that from the ages of 21 to 63, the winners of this year’s competition hail from across the North West, Birmingham and York and include award-winning actors, performers and published authors.
All 10 new plays will be staged for two nights at The Lowry’s Quays Theatre from 14th – 15th July.
Connor writes regularly about theatre in our young team which was formed to allow new unpublished young writers the opportunity to write about the Manchester arts scene, as theatres opened up, following the pandemic.
Connor reviewed OutStageUs last year and they wrote then: “OutStageUs feels revolutionary because it is.” And now they are part of it. On the day they found out they said: “I celebrated with a Wagamamas and Joe Lycett on TV!” He added: “One year I m reviewing it, the next I am being reviewed. I cannot believe it but I am very happy and proud.”
Access to Higher Education at Manchester College
Connor studied the Access to Higher Education English, Writing and Media course at Manchester College one year ago and this experience, combined with reviewing at ILoveMcr gave them the confidence to get their work out there.
Over 150 scripts were submitted for consideration for this annual and important creative initiative – shedding a spotlight on and showcasing the best new writing within and about the LGBTQ+ community. A panel of readers led by Hive Artistic Director, Adam Zane narrowed this down to just 20 entries from which the final 10 were selected following 1-1 development chats with each short-listed entrant.
Zane comments: “We were thrilled by the number of entries we received this year and impressed by the standard and variety of writing. It is so exciting to hear new voices share their own personal stories of the LGBTQ+ experience and we are proud to be able to give them a platform on which to share their truths and their words. We cannot wait to see them come to life on The Lowry stage next month.”
OutStageUs Awards winning entries
The ten winning entries and entrants are:
Deranged by Rav Bansal: Deranged confronts themes of cultural expectations in British Indian families, self-identity, and family acceptance with light-hearted humour in a heart-warming tale about authenticity and love.
If I Ever See Her Again by KT Miles: Their play for OutStageUs examines themes of identity, transformation, love, and memory. It explores the pain of transitioning and the resulting shift in relationships from the perspective of a non-binary person, highlighting the complexity of personal growth intertwined with love and loss.
Twenty by Mitesh Soni: Twenty is a compelling and thought-provoking monologue that raises important issues about consent and respect in relationships, especially within the gay community. The monologue drives home the point about how certain behaviours and attitudes can be normalised or accepted in certain communities, even when they are harmful or abusive.
Out Out by Izzy Campbell: Out Out explores themes of self-expression, acceptance, the exploration of sexuality and societal norms – delivering an affecting narrative about transient connections and their enduring impact.
The Sweet Shop Lament by Saskia Pay: The Sweet Shop Lament is a daring and humorous monologue exploring the intricacies of sexuality and erotic fantasies in an unexpectedly poetic way – offering a unique, unfiltered insight into the mind of a complex individual.
Shrink/Grow by Connor Cooper: Shrink/Grow is a compassionate and insightful play that presents an intimate exploration of a first date between an able-bodied person and a person with a disability. Through a sequence of dialogues and monologues, it illustrates the internal struggles, external obstacles and societal perceptions that affect people with disabilities – particularly in the context of dating and relationships.
A Second Chance by Roo Pilkington: A Second Chance is an engaging play that explores themes of identity, societal expectations, self-acceptance and the pursuit of happiness. It focuses on the life of Estelle, a sex worker who finds herself faced with a new, unexpected client, who seeks to explore her hidden sexuality. It’s a profound reminder that second chances do exist, regardless of age or circumstances.
The Right One by Luke Elliott: The Right One is an emotional journey that offers a deep and often overlooked perspective on asexuality. It challenges the concept of ‘normalcy’ and societal expectations around romantic relationships and sexuality. The play also emphasises the importance of self-acceptance and the support of friends when grappling with identity.
2545 by Rian Craske: 2454 is a compelling one-man show that portrays the struggle and resilience of a young trans man navigating his journey towards self-actualisation. The play is a poignant exploration of the human cost behind numbers, resonating with themes of self-identity, sacrifice, resilience, and hope.
From Kray to Crone by Lel Meleyal: From Kray to Crone is a poignant monologue reflecting on the changing times and spaces for the LGBTQ+ community. It captures the journey of a seasoned lesbian from an era of fighting for survival and visibility, to the seemingly ungrateful ease with which the younger generation takes up the space once fought for.
As well as seeing their work performed on stage by a professional cast and creative team for OutStageUs 2023 – following a bespoke development process – the successful 10 writers will also be paid a fee of £350.
All 10 winning entries from this year’s OutStageUS will be performed on Friday 14 and Saturday 15 July at The Lowry’s Quays Theatre at 8 pm. Tickets are now on sale here.
We are not biased and wish everyone well but good luck Connor!