‘Dublin is the centre of gay theatre worldwide’ says festival director

‘We’ve made Dublin the centre of gay theatre in the world – isn’t that just hilarious?’ said director and festival founder Brian Merriman. Speaking to RTÉ TEN this week, Merriman expressed his delight at what has been achieved by the festival – which has brought 3,500 new works to the stage since its inception as a voluntary outfit in 2004.

Though the director’s message in 2014 carried a starker warning to the public. ‘It is somewhat frustrating that despite a decade of either achievement or survival, this worldwide event in Dublin is at risk of falling with the last volunteer. We have no office, no computer, no staff and not even a chair as an asset – after a decade of unrivalled output and considerable success.

‘It is exhausting trying to work real standards driven theatre with such a paucity of resources, despite the generosity of our volunteer base. I want genuinely to acknowledge the support given to us in staging 180 performances of new Irish theatre and international voices in Dublin this May with the essential help of €6,000 from the Arts Council and €4,000 from Dublin City Council.’

‘The International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival is… an established example of what people can achieve together when they have a common cause,’ he added.

Two years on, gay marriage in Ireland has been legalised and the community has much to celebrate. Likewise, the funding pot has increased, even if ever so slightly. This year the festival received €9,500 from the Arts Council €4,500, from Dublin City Council, and €3,000 from Fáilte Ireland.

‘I know we’ve had marriage equality this year and we’ve got two plays about the referendum, actually,’ Merriman told RTÉ TEN. ‘But the other side of that is there’s the death penalty still in Iran, and there [are] penal laws in Russia. We’ve got a performance from Russia called Beautiful Friends, and we’ve got a beautiful story from Iran – they’re very moving.’

And the director was keen to stress that the festival welcomes everybody: ‘This is not a festival for gay people; it’s about us,’ he concluded. ‘Alan Turing is part of it this year, Julie Andrews is part of it this year and we’re asking everybody, “Are you a part of it?” Because you’re very welcome.’

This year’s festival kicks off on Monday May 2 and runs until Sunday May 15, with 10 performances each night from theatre companies from all around the world.

An international line-up with plays from Ireland, USA, Canada, Iran, Russia, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Greece and the UK.
Approximately 30 productions over 14 days and nights across 6 venues (over 180 performances of theatre in all). Drama, comedy, music, cabaret, dance, free events and more.
Multiple world, European and Irish premieres.
New collaborations with the leading LGBT theatre companies in the UK (King’s Head Theatre) as well as with the oldest LGBT theatre in the USA (TOSOS).
A series of events related to the 1916 Rising – including full length and short plays and an academic seminar. New writing by female writers and directors in the ‘Feminists Awake’ programme.
Irish Historical Short plays as well as International Shorts.
A look at the 2015 Marriage Equality Referendum and its aftermath.
A nightly Festival Club where participants, audience, supporters and volunteers can socialise.
Saturday and Bank Holiday Monday daytime matinee performances at only €10.
Closing ‘Gala and Awards Night’ where we celebrate excellence in the Festival with awards for acting, writing, aspects of production, intercultural-dialogue and contributions to LGBT theatre.

See the interview on RTÉ here