The Hope We Profess

23 Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. 24 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

– Hebrews 10:23-25

My name is James Stokes, and I am a queer theatre maker. I am primarily a backstage worker, and spend most of my time on lighting theatre projects either as a designer or as a technician. During 2020, following some conversations with a queer Anglican friend, I became more and more interested in putting pen to paper and writing a play about the experiences people have when queerness and religion meet. I am particularly interested in the very personal relationship many people have to their church and their religion, and how very different that experience is to the understanding people have of a queer religious experience based on headlines or proclamations from bishops in the press.

I am not especially religious myself, but having attended Church of England schools and spent a great deal of time in choirs as a young man I do have a certain relationship with Anglicanism and a great love of the sense of openness and community I feel whenever I am in a church. From the other side of the project, I identify as queer – more specifically as bi and asexual. 

This project will be a verbatim theatre project; that is, I am aiming to interview many people about their experiences of how their Anglicanism and their queerness intersect, or how they have interacted with queer people as an Anglican, and I will make use of those interviews to create the play. I plan to completely anonymise the participants; your name will not be attached to your words, nor will you be directly represented as an individual character. However, I will wish to use your experiences, and hopefully direct quotes from your interview, as part of the play. You will get a transcript of your interview, and at any time up until the completion of the project can retract any part of the interview or ask that I not use particular contributions as part of the play. I will also endeavour to identify to you any of your contributions that do make it into the script, but depending on how large this project ends up growing I do apologise in advance if any slip through my net! 

As a student of anthropology, I am very keen that this project be inclusive and respectful of its participants – I want you to have whatever level of involvement you feel comfortable with. If you wish, once the project progresses to a stage of rehearsing you will be welcome to attend a rehearsal pending the practicalities of space and time. I will endeavour to provide regular updates on the state of the project, and keep you apprised of any developments. However, there is no pressure to be more involved than you wish to – if you would prefer not to hear more from the project you can let me know at any time. That said, I very much welcome your input and feedback on the direction of the project, and on any drafts of the script I distribute as the play develops – this project should not be my voice alone, and I welcome efforts at co-authorship from any and all participants to make this play as broadly representative as possible. 

If you would like to be involved in the project, please do reach out!

If you’re a queer Anglican, or an Anglican who interacts with queer Anglicans, please consider taking a look at this project!

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