THE ALMOST SPONTANEOUSLY SET-UP READING OF SOUTHERN BEDFELLOWS WAS THE BIGGEST EXPERIENCE AT THE FESTIVAL. PREFERABLY WITH A REUNION ON A DANISH STAGE.
As the audience at the reading of Southern Bedfellows, which was set up last-minute with the play's own author, the American rising star, non-binary Riley Elton McCarthy, I myself was overwhelmed by a sea of "universal emotions".
Beautifully read by Riley and Annelise Nielsen with American Southern dialect, I let myself be sucked into a story about finding one's identity, deep friendship and about choosing oneself first. This experience made such a big impression on me that I dreamed of gender identity all night. I very much hope for a re-enactment, so that this performance can also be included in the curriculum among the younger theater audience.
Get out of bed fellows, Riley’s in the house
Finally, as if that wasn’t enough, it has been confirmed that Riley McCarthy is going to personally appear at a special performance of ‘Southern Bedfellows’ tonight.
McCarthy, who has been taking part in the HOT MEAT Artist Residency, will present a staged reading of the play at 19:00 at Folketeatret, followed by a Q&A.
The play’s dramatist will read the role of Haywood and AnneLise Nielsen the part of JoEllen like they did in the version directed by Christoffer Berdal for HIT Copenhagen in June.
The headlining production for TrashFest is the stage premiere of Riley McCarthy's The Lesbian Play, directed by Julia Gaudioso. It runs in-person at the The Tank blackblox theatre and on CyberTank August 2–9. The play takes place at a birthday party at the Boston University's Women Loving Women Club, which also happens to be on election night 2016. Basement Light Productions will produce The Lesbian Play with eco-friendly, fully recyclable fashion with zero to low waste product.
With the pandemic forcing their physical theater to close, they challenged that idea further with the first annual TrashFest in 2020. It is often difficult to wrestle with the environmental impact our daily lives and our work can have - especially in theater, where so many resources are needed to develop sets, props, and costumes that are only used for a short amount of time. TrashFest centers work that not only produces no waste, but reuses materials discarded as garbage while DarkFest celebrates innovative performance that utilizes self-sufficient and alternative energy sources.
As part of HIT Copenhagen’s season focusing on new LGBTQ+ stories, Copenhagen’s Bøssehuset hosted the world premiere of the much-anticipated ‘Southern Bedfellows’, a new play by Riley McCarthy.
The blistering portrayal of gender, sexuality and self-realisation is helmed by two vanguard figures of socially-conscious theatre.
First, American non-binary playwright McCarthy, whose thematic trademark is the exploration of frustrations within the LGBTQ+ community with the limits of its own discourse.
Second, Reumart-winning director Christoffer Berdal – one of the most significant names of the Danish stage. He is particularly well known for ‘Who Are We?’ – a chronicle of young Palestinian and Iraqi refugees trapped in a Jordanian camp – in which he cast actual refugees as actors.
In the absence of other characters, the narrative perspective oscillates between asphyxiating tunnel vision and the sense of expanse that is unique to private, shared realities.
When Haywood and Jo Ellen speak to those without a physical presence on the stage – mothers, fathers, friends, teachers – it’s a one-sided dialogue with pauses for the imagined responses. The result is a disturbance of the observational role of the audience. We are inside Haywood and Jo Ellen’s heads furnishing the outside world with imperfect assumptions.
Missing information, pauses, misunderstandings: McCarthy leverages gaps to build tension and to explore the social voids between communities and individuals.
It’s slightly heavy-handed commentary but the underlying frustration is too honest to condemn: ‘Southern Bedfellows’ has the integrity and raw passion of a resistance movement.
The two young protagonists of Riley McCarthy’s Southern Bedfellows take us on a journey of discovery as their love blossoms – a bit like The Blue Lagoon, but non-binary, more armpit hair and more prom night than junior high.
“I think everybody has experienced there is a part of you that you are not secure about sharing with friends, family lovers or whoever,’’ enthuses Berdal, and it’s true, this play might be about a non-binary couple, but the themes are universal.
PrideFest 2021 will highlight work that celebrates the queer community; addresses challenges that are faced as we strive for rights, representation and justice; and presents new ideas and perceptions on how we define ourselves individually, within our own community and in the global community at large. Whether through unity or discordance, these performances and discussions, workshops and forums, ought to shed light on the dynamic individuals and groups who make up the vibrant LGBTQIA+ community, and help us understand where we've come from, where we are, and where we can go.