Prepare for three nights of moving queer stories and exceptional performances from upcoming artists as Oxford’s first ever Queer Fest opens this week (June 20-22) at the Burton Taylor Studio showcasing a range of LGBTQIA+ artists from Oxfordshire and beyond.

Headliners include former Oxford Playhouse Evolve Artist JC Niala and award-winning theatre maker Victor Esses. Queer Fest will also feature Scratch Night performances from upcoming artists with works packed full of Kate Bush lip-syncs, queer love and raining meat!

So here’s what to expect:

First up is a Double Bill on Thursday 20 June at BT Studio. 7pm. The Invert: a seductive piece of special pleading brings Radclyffe Hall into the courtroom in a dynamic exploration of free speech, moral panic and fears about Queers. Directed by Costi Levy and written by Lily Sheldon it is set in Bow Street, London in 1928 where The Well of Loneliness is on trial for obscenity and its author, Marguerite Radclyffe Hall, is not allowed to testify.

DOUBLE BILL – Thursday 20 June – I, Victor – Issy Flower

Followed swiftly by I, Victor by Issy Flower. Vic and Liz are made for each other. That is, until they’re not, and one of them is dead. Death might seem like the end, but Vic has other ideas for the childhood sweethearts and after-school graveyard dwellers. Inspired by Mary Shelley’s infamous novel and pop-culture’s serial killer obsession, I, Victor is a passionate tale of love, loss and voracious ambition. BOOK HERE

Hump Day, BT Studio, Thursday June 20, 9pm. Kieran has got it all – dream job, loving boyfriend, the perfect body. But he’s also got an Achilles heel that most guys his age would die for. A funny and poignant exploration of gay identity, body dysmorphia and swimming, inspired by real-life events. This staged reading of the new play by by James Pickthall contemplates the complex and resonant relationship we all have with the human body. BOOK HERE

Curiosity In Performance Workshop, Oxford Playhouse. Friday June 21. 1.30pm. Hosted by Mike Tweddle, the Queer theatre-maker and Artistic Director & CEO of Oxford Playhouse leads participants in an exploration of performance and improvisation techniques, aimed at LGBTQIA+ artists, focusing on curiosity as a tool to cultivate connection and freedom on stage. BOOK HERE

Scratch Night. Friday 21 June. BT Studio. 7pm. An evening of extracts from bold new plays, giving the artists an opportunity to test and explore their work in front of an audience.

This includes Wisbech Meat Shower, written and co-directed by Thom Munden follows the journey of two boys falling in love, while the world around them falls apart in a global pandemic caused by infected meat.

Babooshka is a play about love and the lies we tell in order to keep the performance going. A strange, queer exploration of relationships between lovers, friends and pop icons by Jonathan Kerr where James is sleeping with Tom, Tom is in a relationship with Mark and when the three come together for dinner, a night of sex, lies and Kate Bush lip-syncs that threatens to tear them apart.

Who Cares features Bert – a Queer Belgian nurse who likes connecting with people and making life a little easier. But post-pandemic, fighting to claim better rights and pay and confronted with the structure of care that surrounds him, Bert’s relationship with his profession is turned upside-down. Directed by Lucy Hopkins and created by the team behind international collective Babakas and their acclaimed OUR FATHERS it’s performed by Bert Roman, with dramaturgy by Juan Ayala.  But be quick because tickets are limited BOOK HERE

Saturday 22 June – THE DEATH & LIFE OF ALL OF US – Image Cred Christa Holka

The Death & Life of All of Us, BT Studio, Saturday 22 June, 7pm. Following a sell-out premiere at Soho Theatre and an award-winning run at Summerhall in Edinburgh Fringe 2023, celebrated migrant theatre maker Victor Esses brings his unique storytelling of finding his long-lost great-aunt. 20 years on he is completing a documentary about her life by mixing real life home videos, endearing storytelling and original live-music in a funny and poignant exploration of belonging, resilience and an unexpected connection to the past that refuses to let go. Book here

Out of Bounds, BT Studio, Saturday June 22, 9pm. Winner of the Nancy Dean Prize in 2021, JC Niala‘s play depicts Felicity and Rose who fall in love but must navigate cultural and class differences to discover if they can surmount them. Against a backdrop of their family’s secrets and lies, their story is told across the nineties and noughties. Decades when it seemed that everything was possible, but nothing was guaranteed. Book here BOOK HERE

Mike Tweddle – Oxford Playhouse

Mike Tweddle , Artistic Director & CEO of Oxford Playhouse, said: We want Oxford Playhouse to be a Playhouse for Everyone, so it is an honour to be opening a space for LGBTQIA+ artists as part of the first Queer Fest. We are thrilled to platform a wide range of stories by highly talented writers and performers, and we hope you’ll join us in celebrating their voices and vision.”

QUEER FEST 2024, Burton Taylor Studio, Thursday 20 to Saturday 22 June in partnership with Pegasus Theatre.