New play highlights the struggles of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender asylum seekers

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Rights of Passage - a new play about the struggles of LGBT asylum seekers by Clare Summerskill and Artemis Theatre - presented by Friends of Edward Carpenter community group at The Merlin Theatre, Sheffield on Monday May 30.

Friends of Edward Carpenter are proud to bring this original production from Clare Summerskill and Artemis Theatre to Sheffield and to the newly renovated Merlin Theatre. 

Rights of Passage is an inspirational new play about the struggles and triumphs of people from LGBT communities who have fled to the UK from persecution. What happens when they get to the country that they hope will offer refuge? Who is welcome, who is deported, and who is locked up? 

You leave your own country in fear of your life. You come here to be free. But now you are friendless, penniless, jobless, and scared to present yourself to the Home Office, in case they don’t believe you - in case they send you back.

Based on interviews with LGBT asylum seekers, Rights of Passage shares the experiences of those who come to the UK from anti-LGBT countries where their lives are under threat. Real-life stories brought to the stage unveil the issues of those who come to the UK and often live under the radar, terrified of being forcefully returned to their country of origin.

Dramatically moving, Rights of Passage is written by the brilliant Clare Summerskill (Once Upon a Lifetime and Gateway to Heaven). Artemis Theatre was founded by Clare and is committed to telling the stories of hidden and marginalised communities.

Rights of Passage is presented in Sheffield by the Friends of Edward Carpenter community group, dedicated to presenting community events in spirit and in solidarity with Carpenter, an early social reformer and gay activist who lived in Sheffield at the end of the 19th and early 20th Century. These include two sold-out concerts featuring Coven, a collection of celebrated women musicians, for International Women’s Day 2016 and the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHoBiT) event in Sheffield’s Peace Gardens on May 17th.

Rights of Passage is the first professional theatre production to be performed at the newly renovated Merlin Theatre following its official launch earlier this month.

Mark Scott, co-director of Friends of Edward Carpenter community group says, “When considering hosting this production in Sheffield, it was perfect that the theatre was available and that they were enthusiastic to have it as there first professional theatre production.”

Friends of Edward Carpenter community group are looking to raise funds for a permanent memorial to Carpenter in the city centre. They are also dedicated to organising and presenting community music, arts and other events in solidarity with and in the spirit of the early social reformer who lived for 40yrs in and around Sheffield during the 19th and 20th century.

During this time, Carpenter campaigned and wrote on many social issues including women’s suffrage, clean air, workers’ rights and the formation of trade unions as well as being an early gay rights activist.

“Bringing this production to Sheffield is so exciting,” Mark says, “We have the connection between Carpenter and Ruskin through the theatre that is owned and run by the Ruskin Mill Trust. It is the perfect connection, as the men shared so many values. 

“Also, we think Carpenter would very much approve of the spotlight the play shines on the continuing struggle faced by LGBT people across the world. These struggles are still faced by many, here and abroad, nearly a century after Carpenter was writing and campaigning. We believe he would recognise the continuing quest for LGBT equality and justice and would want to do something about it were he here.”

Rights of Passage opened with a three night run at the Chelsea Theatre in London this week. The play is touring select venues across the country and is presented on Monday 30th May at The Merlin Theatre Sheffield at 7.30pm.

For further details and tickets Click here or Click here