Preview: Come As You Are @ Exeter Phoenix

Exeter Phoenix 17th  –  18th November

Come As You Are is a ground-breaking and eccentric festival that celebrates trans, non-binary, and gender-queer theatre. Titling themselves “Gender Anarchists”, Camden People’s Theatre are travelling across the UK to challenge people’s preconceptions of gender and identity, demonstrating the freedom to be found in interrogating these oppressive norms.

The line-up for this weekend boasts an innovative and explosive concoction of revolutionary theatre. The festival commences with their Scratch Night; three performances like you’ve never seen before.  These works are inspired by the event’s title, Come As You Are, and are based upon themes of self-expression and self-invention.

Following this is the eccentric Non-Binary Electro Hour. Combining the anarchy and energy of punk with the revolutionary noise of queer life, this immersive experience engages with the gender-bending icons of past and present. Bringing together punk music with strip-teases, sci-fi and poetry, this spectacular event celebrates the liberating possibilities of gender-queerness.

On Sunday the festival will be partnering with local LGBTQIA+ organisations for a discussion panel, taking a more serious platform for the local gender-queer community to discuss and share their experiences. The panel welcomes all from the curious ally to those most aware, and it promises to be an enlightening event.

Later that evening is a double bill on the topic of ‘queer’ discourse, titled I’m Bitter About Glitter and Deuce. The former is a collaborative piece between a mother and her nine-year-old son, a gentle yet eye-opening dialogue discussing identity exploration. This piece engages with our need to discuss gender identity with younger generations and hopes towards a more liberating future. Deuce is strikingly different; focusing on Section 28 – the infamous legislation that banned local authorities from ‘promoting’ homosexuality – the piece utilises pop-culture to explore the terminology and iconography of gender non-conformity within our past and present society.

The Festival’s finale is Bullish, an invigorating and purposefully disruptive show which pits ancient mythology against modern gender navigation. Aiming to challenge all our preconceptions of gender to the point of destruction, Bullish plays upon stories of the past to completely rewrite the future. An epitome of the festival’s ethos, this eccentric piece wants to “drop a proverbial bull into a china shop and hope it breaks everything.”

-Eleanor Gordon 

Tickets can be purchased from the Exeter Phoenix website and box office


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