Venables: The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions

Venables: The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions

The cult book "The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions" (1977) by US-born author Larry Mitchell is considered an origin myth of the queer community that addresses and celebrates diversity and sexuality. Composer Philip Venables and the author and director Ted Huffman look at the history of music from a different perspective: Together with 15 stage actors they have reworked Mitchell’s text into a kaleidoscopic, hyper-theatrical bedtime story, that re-imagines the history of the world in the fantasy city of Ramrod, where fables and myths become a celebration of sex, pleasure, and queer community: a manifesto for survival.

The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions saw its world premiere at the Manchester International Festival 2023. Following performances at the Bregenz Festival, Festival d’Aix en Provence and London’s Southbank Centre, we can look forward to further performances at the Holland Festival, Ruhrtriennale and NYU Skirball.

About The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions

Fantasy meets liberation in this queer retelling of world history. Step into a world where fables and myths celebrate queer community, friendship and pleasure: a manifesto for survival for the marginalised everywhere. Based on the 1977 cult book by Larry Mitchell and Ned Asta, The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions is a music theatre piece that reimagines the history of the world through a queer lens. In this musical adaptation by Philip Venables and Ted Huffman, the original text is taken on a kaleidoscopic journey by a cast of actors, singers and musicians. Together they conjure up a world on the brink of revolution – expect battle re-enactments crossed with cheerleading, all night raves mixed with lute songs and court dances. The result is a joyful celebration of queer experience that’s both vulnerable and provocative. A space where deeply personal stories are shared and soothed through community. Radical and playful, The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions brings together theatre, dance and song for the ultimate anarchic bedtime story.

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World premiere of The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions

Press quotes

"Banal, striking, or even didactic? Not for those who do not recognise eclecticism or a conglomeration of styles in instruments like the lute, viola da gamba, piano, harpsichord, percussion, flute, accordion, harp, theorbo, baroque harp, saxophone, etc., or in the entire musical spectrum that stretches from renaissance harmony to techno beats, but instead that love of fiction in which Philip Venables can indulge himself on account of being so sure of its sonic result. It may seem like chaos when bossa nova with rich percussion follows the sounds of the Baroque. Just as the martial fight against patriarchy is never accompanied by musical crescendo, Venebles relies instead on contrast. Rather than used inflatorary, it proceeds with a recurring musical motif – using the sequence F A G – and can be easily paraphrased despite its poetic language."
Nachtkritik, 29.07.2023

"Premieres at Aix can be a mixed bag, but this year “Picture a Day Like This,” by George Benjamin and Martin Crimp, and “The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions,” by Philip Venables and Ted Huffman, were rightfully well-received contributions to the field: often surprising, executed with mastery and worth repeated viewing as they travel in the coming months and years."
New York Times, 11.07.2023

"The celebration is glorious. On harp, piano and accordion, flute and fiddle, countertenor and mezzo. With a chorus of clapping and stamping. A viola da gamba and a lute conjure the past. A breakdancer whips across the stage like something blown by the wind of change. Even a call for the audience to join in a song comes off: this is a show about breaking down all frontiers."
The Observer, 09.07.2023

World premiere of The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions

"What Venables and Huffman have achieved, though, is to give Mitchell’s utopian vision of loving collective action a physical shape. The performers do double- or triple-duty as instrumentalists and singers, narrators and dancers, their transitions between these roles virtuosically, mesmerisingly fluid. At one point virtually every performer takes up a violin, those visibly less familiar with the instrument playing a single note as a drone, to exquisite effect. At another, a Britten-ish lute song segues into a bossa nova, while elsewhere the entire cast erupts into minutely coordinated body percussion and one of Venables’ passages of baroque semi-pastiche kicks off a courtly dance. Taken as a whole, the show is at times both baffling and chaotic – but served up with such raw energy and panache, it’s also irresistibly, unforgettably compelling."
The Guardian, 29.06.2023

"Equally true to the book, Venables’s score is by turns comic, catchy, sensual, and majestic.", 12.07.2023

"A baroque, queer and militant fantasy... the strength is undeniably in these representatives of a multitude of genres who manage to take you by the hand."
Toute la culture, 10.07.2023

Score of The Faggots and Their Friends Between Revolutions

Photos: Tristram Kenton