Spotlight On… The HIV Monologues Writer, Patrick Cash

THE HIV MONOLOGUES
February 2nd – 19th 2017, Ace Hotel

Performance Dates         February 2nd 2017 – February 19th 2017

                                                Monday – Saturday, 7pm (not 15th)

                                                matinees 3pm on Sundays (not 12th)

Running Time                    70 mins

Venue                                  Ace Hotel, 100 Shoreditch High St, London E1 6JQ

Ticket Price                         £15 (£12 concessions)

Box Office                           Eventbrite (eventbrite.co.uk)

Links                                      Dragonflies Theatre (dragonfliestheatre.co.uk/hiv-monologues)

After a critically acclaimed launch at the end of 2016, Dragonflies Theatre’s new production returns in 2017, exploring HIV amongst gay men through a series of interwoven stories. Writer Patrick Cash and director Luke Davies continue their work, including show The Clinic and The Chemsex Monologues, in bringing important queer stories to the UK stage with The HIV Monologues, which stars inspiration for the film Pride and one of the first people to diagnosed with HIV in the UK Jonathan Blake.

***** “Another triumph from the team that have so firmly and successfully put the spirit of community into modern theatre” Gay Times

Alex knows nothing about HIV but knew he should have worn the power bottom singlet. Nick is his Tinder date who’s just been diagnosed positive, struggling with self-worth. Their date is going amazingly until Nick discloses his diagnosis… And Alex reacts in the worst way. Through meeting Irene, an Irish nurse who treated AIDS in the 1980s, and Barney, who was saved by the 1996 medication, Alex gets on PrEP, but will he be able to win Nick back?

***** “A thunder looper of emotions: stigma, humour, shame and love” The Gay UK

Post-show, the company have arranged a series of post-show talks with high-profile specialists on HIV and queer theatre, including: international chemsex expert and gay men’s wellbeing promoter David Stuart; playwrights Alexis Gregory (Safe) and Peter Darney (5 Guys Chillin’); Chief Executive of GMFA Ian Howley, leading HIV expert Professor Jane Anderson; Service Development Manager for THT Justin Harbottle; Executive Director at NAM aidsmap Matthew Hodson; lead HIV consultant for 56 Dean Street Dr Alan Mcowan; curator of Naked Boys Reading and academic Dr Justin Hunt; Lead HIV/Hep C nurse at 56 Dean Street Joe Phillips; PrEP expert Professor Sheena McCormack; clinic manager of 56 Dean Street Leigh Chislett; AIDS nurse Jane Bruton; and author of ‘Straight Jacket: How To Be Gay And Happy’ Matthew Todd.

Patrick has also been named “one to watch” as a playwright by The Independent.

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Here’s an exclusive interview with Patrick…

Hi Patrick, thanks for talking to Break A Leg. Tell me about the piece and your inspiration for it

The HIV Monologues explores HIV amongst gay men from AIDS of the 1980s to PrEP of the modern day. It interweaves between time periods, interconnecting stories and characters. It was inspired by stories of the 1980s, when the queer community went to extraordinary lengths to compassionately care for their ill friends. I juxtaposed this against HIV stigma today. But ultimately, it’s a tale of connection, as two struggling men learn intimacy from history.

Was it easy to put it all down on paper?

Mostly, the characters within the play flowed relatively smoothly onto the page. However I am very much aware when writing about HIV and self-worth, I am tackling very personal, delicate subjects. I felt it was important to illustrate the ludicrousness of stigma, but to create that character without him verging on two-dimensional villainy was a complex process. And I was born in 1987, so writing about the 1980s I had to do extensive research for accuracy.

Is it translating well from page to stage?

Yes, thankfully! We’ve performed the play around London before returning to Ace Hotel in Shoreditch for this long run. We’ve gained good, approving reactions from all our audiences, which has been a massive relief for me as a writer. But of course, it’s not just the writing that creates the play. Director Luke Davies draws out nuanced, emotionally true performances from our fantastic cast: Denholm Spurr, Charly Flyte, Kane Surry and Jonathan Blake.

How is the space lending itself to the piece?

Miranda London is a beautiful theatre space. It’s hidden away beneath the glittering Ace Hotel, a freelancer paradise, and usually plays host to club nights at the weekends. We first used it as a theatre space with The HIV Monologues last November so it’s fitting to return there for this three-week run. It’s large, spacious but capable of providing a sense of intimacy between performer and audience. Perfect for a personal play with themes on a large scale.

What do you hope the audience will take away from the production?

Ideally a greater sense of empathy for what makes us human. I know that sounds particularly grandiose, but I suppose why I write is to reach that emotional connection that lies beneath all our external divisions, whether it be nationality, race, sexuality or HIV status. Within the gay community, a minority group who know stigma from homophobia, it seems absurd that we are passing on that stigma. But the play is written to resonate with anybody through love.

Finally, any advice for budding writers?

You have to make your own break. The enduring myth of a cigar-chomping producer who’s going to materialise, whip up your unsolicited script and make you into a writing star, is exactly that: a myth. If you truly believe in your work, get it out there and in front of people. Through teaming up with my director mate Luke and doing this, I now have two plays published by Oberon Books and a brilliant agent. But you have to make it happen.

Thanks so much to Patrick for an insightful interview, we wish you every success with the run.

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