QWERK is a brand new event, celebrating the best in new queer voices in the theatre from across the world, which will launch at Glasgow’s Category is Books this weekend. The event is programmed by Scotland’s Fieldwork Performance – a fledgling collaboration between Matt Addicott, Susannah Armitage and Lewis Hetherington – and saw them reaching out to queer writers from across the world, particularly those based in countries where LGBTQIA rights are in real focus and peril, such as Brazil and Russia. The Fountain caught up with Lewis Hetherington to discuss QWERK in more depth and the plans for this new mini festival.

TF: QWERK kicks off this weekend, but can you give an insight into what it is, and why it came about?

QWERK is a mini festival of new plays by Queer writers from all over the world. We’ll be doing script in hand readings of brilliant work, which is moving, shocking, beautiful and much more. At at time when LGTBQIA rights are under threat across the world, and in many countries people face violent persecution for just being themselves, we felt it was vital to amplify and celebrate the voices of these people, and to hear the stories they have to tell.

TF: What is the premise of Fieldwork Performance, it would be great to here about what you do?

We are a brand new performance collective who want to bring new work, new stories and new ideas to Scottish audiences. Rooted in Glasgow with an international ethos, we want to present work, which is compelling and gripping, we want to tell stories, which are not being told, from voices which need to be heard. This is our pilot project, and it feels like the perfect fit in it’s aims and ambitions and we can’t wait to see where and how it grows.   

TF: How has it been working with Playwright’s Studio Scotland and Glasgow University to bring this project to fruition?

It’s been wonderful to have the expertise, support and enthusiasm of both these organisations – not to mention the invaluable support from Category is Books, the new Queer Bookshop on the Southside where we will be presenting the plays.   

TF: And offering a voice to those from countries where LGBTQIA rights are still not there, that’s very noble, what inspired that decision?  

We were motivated by the chance to hear brilliant new plays from voices and cultures, which we don’t get to hear very much. It was a chance to show solidarity and, along with an audience, give us all a chance to reflect on the commonalities and differences which unite us as people and as an LGBTQIA community across the world. It feels really important to remind ourselves that there are very many people in the world whose lives are under threat, every single day – but still there they are creating art, telling stories and inspiring others. Scotland has relatively good legislation to protect the rights of LGBTQIA people, but still even in this country we have a long way to go, and this even will hopefully prompt discussion around that and remind us that there is often a big gap between what is written in law and the everyday experience of LGTBQIA people. 

TF: And you have made these events generously free to the public, what inspired this model of event?

We are interested in removing any barriers for people to access the work. We want everyone to feel welcome, it’s going to be a very relaxed and informal vibe and we’re really interested to get people’s thoughts on where we take the project next. We will also be taking donations for LGBT Unity, so for those who can we’ll invite a contribution to this fantastic organisation who are doing such vital work to support LGTBQIA people who have come to Scotland to escape persecution. 

QWERK runs between 27th and 29 September in Category is Books. Free but ticketed, you can obtain tickets here.