News Story

To celebrate Pride Month, we've asked around our colleagues to find out who their favourite LGBTQ+ theatre makers are.

Rakie Ayola, who stars in Mom, How Did You Meet The Beatles? names Sharon D. Clarke as one of her favourite LGBTQ+ theatre makers. In Chichester we of course know Sharon for her Olivier Award-winning and Tony nominated role in Caroline, or Change. She also won an Olivier for her role as Linda Loman in Death of a Salesman, and is well known for television roles in Holby City and Doctor Who. In 2017, Clarke was awarded an MBE for services to drama, and as Rakie puts it, 'is at the top of the British theatrical tree'.

Rakie also picks actor Cherelle Skeete: 'Cherrelle is an excellent actor, singer and writer who also works tirelessly to facilitate safe creative spaces for marginalised performers through their organisation Blacktress UK.'

Sharon D. Clarke in Caroline or Change, 2017
Sharon D. Clarke in Caroline or Change, 2017

Angela Buckley, Project & Events Co-ordinator, names Declan Donnellan as one of her favourite creators. Donnellan is the co-founder and joint Artistic Director of Cheek by Jowl theatre company, whose plays tour internationally in multiple languages. He was awarded an OBE in 2017 for services to drama.

'I love how their plays transport you to a world, a place they have created. The theatre he creates pushes boundaries and every show brings you a different experience. I have even watched his shows in other languages and still feel transported.'

Sally Garner-Gibbons, Apprenticeship Co-ordinator, highlights Ryan Dawson Laight, a visionary costume designer known for many CFYT shows including The Wind in the Willows, Pinocchio and Grimm Tales.

'He is an incredible, innovative theatre designer and the most wonderful collaborator. Their work is inspired and he is one of the most wonderful people to work with.'

And of Jon Pashley, director of the upcoming CFYT production A Midsummer Night's Dream, she says:

'Jon is CFT family and the most wonderful supportive director. His process is incredible to watch and his knowledge about his craft is completely mind-blowing. He's a true inspiration.'

Ryan Dawson-Laight's costumes in The Wind in the Willows

Helena Berry, Heritage & Archive Manager, sees Ellie Snow as one of her favourite LGBTQ+ theatre makers. Ellie was a member of the CFT Youth Advisory Board 2020-22.

'She is a queer theatre practitioner, influencer, director, and Artistic Director of Omni Arts. Seeing her work and advocacy, at such an early stage in her career is inspirational.'

As part of Omni Arts, Snow runs Queer Creatives, a weekly group open to anyone who wants to explore, learn about and create queer art.

Ellie Snow speaking at the 2022 CFT Youth Conference
Ellie Snow speaking at the 2022 CFT Youth Conference

Matt Hawksworth, Head of Children & Young People's Programme, speaks of Matthew Lopez, writer of The Inheritance, a play inspired by E. M. Forster's 1910 novel Howard's End.

'I saw it in 2018 at the Young Vic and it moved me beyond words. An epic play, exploring the experiences of gay men across generations and how younger men reflect on and connect to those that have paved the way for them. It is beautiful, harrowing, tender, biting and true. I laughed, I cried and I cried some more. Matthew Lopez weaves multiple characters across multiple time periods. He has written a play that will be talked about for many, many years to come and shines a light on many important themes.'

The Inheritance was called 'perhaps the most important American play of the century so far' by the Telegraph in its five-star review, and won Lopez an Olivier and Tony for best play, among many other awards.

Charlie Josephine, writer in residence at Headlong, was also cited as an inspirational LGBTQ+ theatre creator.

'They are insanely talented and a lovely person to work with.'

Josephine wrote I, Joan (The Globe, 2022) and their play Cowbois comes to the RSC in the Autumn.

We hope these picks inspire you to explore and celebrate diverse and exciting theatre, this month and beyond!