Today we announce that we will be releasing a study guide for our most recent production, Jonathan Harvey's Beautiful Thing. Below, we wanted to highlight why we believe exploring Beautiful Thing is just as important today as it was when it was first written in the 1990's.
Last week, newspapers across the UK reported that a number of academies across the United Kingdom had sexual education policies that were reminiscent of the now vetoed Section 28 policies introduced by Margaret Thatcher in 1988.
Section 28 declared that a local authority
shall not intentionally promote homosexuality or publish material with the intention of promoting homosexuality
promote the teaching in any maintained school of the acceptability of homosexuality as a pretended family relationship.
The introduction of the section led to an outcry from the gay community - including mass protests, news invasions, and the birth of now world renowned gay rights organisations like Stonewall and Outrage.
In 2003, the section was repealed - but it seems unfortunately it's effect is still being felt. Over 40 UK institutions still have language in their policies which forbids the promotion or encouragement of homosexuality. Campaigners are highlighting that the discriminating language in these schools' sex-education policies is a violation of the Equality Act.
So, we are proud to let you know that we will soon be releasing a study guide to accompany Beautiful Thing - a seminal play which explores the developing relationship between two teenage men. The study guide has been written by Fin Kennedy (who most recently wrote our Long Day's Journey Into Night study guide) and amongst other things explores gay issues of the time.
Beautiful Thing is set in 1993, against this backdrop of fear, violence and prejudice. The fear of AIDS would have been at its peak in 1993 – the medical breakthrough which meant the disease was not an automatic death sentence was not made until three years later.
The guide continues to explore Harvey's intentions in writing the piece, and the world in which he wrote it.
Fin then quizzes students by challenging them with questions such as 'Do you think it is possible to write a political play which doesn’t mention politics at all?'
The study guide also explores a range of other subjects from Harvey's choice of language to the social and economic circumstances of the various characters. He also discusses the use of song in the piece (Mama Cass features heavily), and the other external influences that are apparent in Harvey's ground-breaking work.
The Beautiful Thing study guide will be released in mid-September, 2013.
You can watch our production of Beautiful Thing here.