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Photo: Lee Baxter

Great Indecencies is a new play commissioned by IAP:MCR from Joshua Val Martin - an associate artist of the company that draws on the experience and testimony of people who participated in the project. In describing his approach to the project Joshua says...

Writing this play begins with two people in a room 

A couple who have probably never before met

One of them older, one of them younger, sat around a recorder – 

With potentially little more in common than their sexual identities 


At some point, the younger stranger is likely to ask something along the lines of – 

What was it like to come of age as homosexuality began to be decriminalised? 


There’s probably a wary glance thrown in the direction of the recorder – 

After all, this is the version of events that is to last forever.


The young interviewer wonders if they’ll hear the much-told story of ‘outlaws to in-laws’ 

Or a misty-eyed account of how things were better back then.

The interviewee tentatively begins to tell the story they think is wanted of them –

Before giving in to trust

They’re asked questions, then again, then perhaps in a slightly different way -

Until the pair collaborate to create testimonies that haven’t seen daylight for decades

…this process is repeated many times, across the North-West  


Now, at this point, I’d fancied writing a musical 

Then I listened to all the testimonies. I listened to them again.

I felt a deep responsibility, having been entrusted with these life stories,

To tell the truth

Knowing that they must inform what the play is to become (and so the musical was shelved)


I began by identifying common themes 

Many of which are impossible to ignore – 

Pervasive stories of homophobia and trauma 


It was important to me that every plot point, twist and turn-of-phrase in the play 

Had been taken from one of the real memories shared with us 


But then, if we were to simply reconfigure the testimonies, 

Why not make a LGBT+ documentary or verbatim play 

(which there are already plenty) 

Or redirect the audience to the archives?


We wanted to reflect the stories back,

And reveal the details a listener can more readily see.

To celebrate the messy, shocking, sexy stories 

Told by our criminals, 

who were driven in different directions, 

by their pursuit of love

‘Something lasts longer the more you talk about it’ is our mantra


This play had been written many times and years before I arrived: 

It had just been waiting to be told.

The play was first performed at The Edge Theatre and Arts Centre in Manchester on 30 March 2023.  The cast and creative team were:


Leonard - Jamie Newall

Rye - Joe Shipman

Freddie - Jordan Rising


Stage Manager - James Darnton

Intern - Rosheen O’Hanlon

Intern - A B Bradnack


Director - Sue Dunderdale

Designer - Jez Dolan

Sound Designer - Dan Steele

Lighting Designer - David Martin


Photo: Lee Baxter

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