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Coming out in 140 characters

PUBLISHED: 17:03 19 July 2018 | UPDATED: 17:03 19 July 2018

OUT140.  Picture: Norwich Theatre Royal

OUT140. Picture: Norwich Theatre Royal

Norwich Theatre Royal

From proud parents to random presents, a new Norwich production is making a drama out of hundreds of coming out stories.

“I told my parents I was bisexual when I was 16. They said, ‘Go to your room.’”

“My daughter’s wedding. Seeing her so happy with her bride. I thought “What were you worried about you old fool?”

“Thought I was gay, told everyone I was gay but I didn’t know if I was. Had boyfriend after boyfriend. Then I met a young woman and fell in love. I’m debating if I’m straight or bi.”

“I told my mum I was bisexual. She didn’t know what to say so she bought me a tumble dryer.”

“I was 18 and couldn’t wait to come out; I’d known all my life. Yes, I was scared; but nothing is scarier than living a lie.”

“Asked a friend if she wished she’d been born a guy too. She said, ‘Not everyone feels that way buddy.’”

These are just some of the coming out stories told, in 140 or fewer characters, in a new play to be premiered in Norwich on Tuesday July 24.

OUT140 is the latest incarnation of a micro-storytelling project.

The tiny stories, of massive life-changing moments, will be told on stage at the Theatre Royal’s Stage Two from July 24-27. During each the interval the audience will be invited to add their own stories to the 450-plus already collected, and some will be added to the ever-evolving show.

Director Jen Alexander said: “Cast members have contributed their own stories and ideas and this has given the production real genuiness and depth. It’s going to be amazing performing in front of an audience who have such a strong connection to what they’re seeing on stage.”

OUT140 began as a multimedia show, displaying tweet-length coming out stories on a screen at the Forum eight years ago. It then toured art galleries in Norwich, Cromer, Folkestone and Brighton, before being turned into a book, and then a series of songs by Norwich’s Sing with Pride choir.

This week’s premiere is part of the Theatre Royal’s Creative Pride week, celebrating the 10th anniversary of Norwich Pride. It includes an installation by Norwich-based cartoonist and illustrator David Shenton, made up of large panels creating a montage of gay icons, decorated in the style of The Beatles’ Sgt Pepper album cover.

On July 25 and 26, Kate O’Donnell will be at Stage Two, presenting You’ve Changed, about her transition journey 15 years ago.

And on July 27 comedian Stephen Bailey will tackle everything from celebrity culture and dating to politics and working-class family life in Can’t Think Straight, also at Stage Two.

Theatre Crafts and Tales is a free drop-in session for families at Stage Two on July 28, including the chance to make flags, crowns and more.

For tickets and more details visit ntr.org.uk\CreativePride

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