Chris Thompson is a writer for stage and screen. His play Dungeness was first performed by young people as part of the National Theatre Connections festival in 2018 but was bought back for the 2020 festival this year. Although the 2020 festival did not happen this year, schools and theatre groups rehearsed and bought performances online throughout the country.
Written fifty years on from the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in England, Dungeness is a unique play for young people about the struggles and joys of being gay and has already had an amazing impact on the young people that have been involved with it.
Methuen Drama are proud to be publishing Dungeness, alongside Stonewall Housing, on Monday 10th August as part of the Plays for Young People series.
We spoke to Chris just before launch day to get his thoughts and inspiration behind the play. Here’s what he had to say:
I wrote the play Dungeness because I wanted to write what I wish I had seen as a gay kid in school.
In the UK we’re lucky that for the most part LGBT+ rights are protected in law. But the day-to-day lives of queer young people can be full of highs and lows.
We only need to look at the statistics to see that LGBT+ young people are more likely to become homeless, more likely to self-harm and suffer depression.
The play addresses these issues but it’s also full of joy and laughter.
There is a clear desire from teachers and students to make LGBT+ people feel safe and valued in schools. And nothing makes me happier than hearing how schools have used the play to both address homophobia but also to celebrate LGBT+ life and give those kids a chance to see people like themselves on stage. And for straight allies it’s a wonderful chance to promote empathy and understanding.
Just having this play on your bookshelves sends a clear message that LGBT+ young people are seen and allowed to be themselves.
One thing I hadn’t expected is how the play has created its own community. There’s an amazing bunch of people who have been involved with the play and they all share and celebrate that common experience.
It’s been wonderful receiving messages from students, teachers and parents about how it’s helped teenagers come out, or started important conversations in classrooms about respect and difference.
With its debates about protests and commemoration, the play is about taking to the streets to be who you are. My desire is that we use the play as a springboard to look at not just LGBT+ rights, but also other protest movements happening around us now and historically.
Dungeness publishes on Monday 10th August. Find out more here:
You can read more about Stonewall Housing and their work here. A percentage of all sales of Dungeness is going to the Stonewall Housing projects.