My Q on where to do queer art

I was invited to ask a question for a debate with the artistic directors of Stockholm and Gothenburg City Theatres and the regional Dalateatern in Falun and a casting director for film and tv. The debate took place at the temporary ”Pride House” at the Stockholm City Theatre, during Europride, in August 2008. Leading the debate was Gunilla Edemo.

From the program:

Queer acting (arranged by Swedish Union for Theatre, Artists and Media & Swedish Performing Arts) Not enough with a week a year? Aiming to challenge heteronormativity on stage during the entire year? A conversation about what has happened in performance arts since 2005.

This is my question:

”Representation of minorities in the mainstream culture is something grand and important. Visibilty of minorities kan mean moving towards a more inclusive society. But what’s the next step? And where can it be taken?

 

It is of a lesser importance how many gay men we see on the stage (Edward II)[1], or how many lesbians that direct (Richard III and Hedwig and the Angry Inch) or how many times a play about a transvestite is performed (I am my own wife), if Normality is not challenged, in the audience – and not only in a text in the program or in discussions during rehearsals.

 

My thesis is that it is very difficult – maybe impossible – to make queer art in a hetero-defined environment. To challenge the heteronorm is dangerous for the Striaght and evokes resistance, creates strategies of delay, surfaces distancing and ridiculing comments in corridors and dressing rooms. A theatre production that seeks to challenge the perspectives of the audience, will not reach that goal with an ensemble or an artistic manager who resists challenges on a personal level, during work hours.

 

One of the few straight actors i have met, who has handled these challenges well, is Ann Petrén (Stockholm City Theatre). She is uniqe, as the challenges demands such difficult questioning of the own identity.

 

Can the Institutional Theatres and the commercial film business be arenas for queer struggle[2]? If yes: How? Or do you see any problems with that?


[1] The productions mentioned are from the Stockholm City Theatre.

[2] A struggle which arises out of the notion that the heteronormative system is a weapon of mass destruction; something far beyond an interesting topic for a seminar during the rehearsalperiod; a violent and ever present system of oppression.