Sanctuary Queer Arts is excited to announce the ten members of their first National Queer Young Company and two recipients of the Newer Artists award, Theo Sneddon and Jess Chanliau. The Young Company members, all identifying as LGBTQIA+, include musicians, actors, dramaturgs, directors and drag performers and hail from all across the country – from Thurso to Aberdeen, Dundee, Edinburgh, Glasgow and Dumbarton.

The company will come together digitally to build their national network of peers, share ideas and present their work as it develops, leading up to a first draft presentation of a new autobiographical ensemble performance in February 2021.

Aude Naudi-Bonnemaison (She/Her), Chelsea Grace (She/Her), Rebecca Hogan (She/Her), Yasoda Winmill-Hermann (They/Them) and Myfanwy Morgan (She/Her) all spoke with The Fountain about their involvement and their aspirations for the Young Company.

TF: What is your personal involvement with them?

ANB: I am part of the Sanctuary Queer Arts Young Company.

CG: I am one of the lucky 10 creatives that make up the first ever fabulous Sanctuary Queer Arts Young Company.

RH: I’m part of the young Company. I wanted to get involved so that I could connect with other LGBTQ+ artists and collaborate on a performance that gives us all the chance to be heard.

YWH: Since SQA has only recently come into the world, my only involvement with the project has been through the young company, which has been a truly fascinating experience! Meeting and working with the 3 organisers, Fraser, Annabelle and Drew has been so fulfilling, these people are so warm and welcoming and have such enthusiasm for the next generation of queer performers, encouraging us to create innovative pieces that reflect the beauty of queer creativity in Scotland.

MM: I’m very excited to say I am a part of their inaugural National Queer Young Company! One of 10 young people that will do what they can to creatively ad artistically remedy the disparagements & stigma of being queer but of course also celebrate the wonder and joys of it too.

TF: What is your favourite form of creativity, and how do you distinguish yourself as an artist?

ANB: My favourite form of creativity is probably to be in a room with other theatre makers and devise a piece of theatre. I find it hard to distinguish myself as an artist to be honest. I am still figuring out what I want to work on and what art I want to put out there. But I would say being Queer is central to my artistry it is who I am and so it will feed into every piece of work I produce.

CG: I like to dabble! Primarily I’m an Actor but recently I’ve been dancing, writing and painting more. I love that you can play around with creativity. I use art as a form of activism and a way of educating myself about different walks of life. I like exploring human relationships and psychology. I hope that a duality of vulnerability and strength are at the forefront of my creative practices.

RH: My favourite form of creativity is playwriting. I distinguish myself as an artist by focusing on telling the stories of underrepresented groups. I’m a disabled lesbian so I’ve never seen myself represented in the media, so I want to be able to give other people the representation I wish I had gotten when I was younger.

YWH: I am a drag artist. My favourite form of creativity is transforming my physical person into a shapeshifting creature, performing on a stage in front of a live audience, and steadily losing pieces of clothing throughout my performance. My body is my art, whether it is the makeup and illusions I paint onto myself, or the dance movements, shapes and sensual experiences I create with my body, my physicality is the art.

MM: I am known for singing. All. The. Time. So probably music. I have been doing theatre for over a decade and that was what I focused on for a very long time – I still love acting, devising, character building – but I have been more drawn to music as it is in many ways a more accessible way of expressing myself. I do also thoroughly enjoy dancing like everyone is watching me and judging me and using that judgement as fuel for my sick moves. What distinguishes me? I’m young, Scottish and queer. What’s that? The rest of the company are all those things? My humour then, I suppose.

TF: Now that SQA has developed, what other developments would you like to see happen? 

ANB: I would love SQA to develop into a bigger company, one that is able to facilitate even more events such as workshops, bringing in other more established theatre makers to teach classes and maybe have a couple of shows every year that can tour the country and even other countries one day! It would be fantastic to maybe have a movement course over a couple of weeks in another Queer theatre company in another part of the world if and when it is possible to travel again.

CG: I would just love to see more and more opportunities for creatives being developed as a massive f*** you to the government. Arts play a vital role in society and I wish that was more widely recognised.

RH: I would like to see more developments like this one, where LGBT people can connect and create art. I would also like to see even more developments like this being facilitated online. I hope it’s something that theatre companies and arts organisations continue to do even once lockdown restrictions have eased, because, even though there are limitations to working this way, it has brought art, artistic expression, and training to so many people that wouldn’t have gotten it otherwise.

YWH: Of course, just as everyone else is hoping for live performances to become a reality again, I cannot wait to develop ideas in person with the rest of the young company. Performing live with physical bodies in the same space creates an energy of passionate creativity which unfortunately cannot be recreated through zoom. The prospect of creating and performing a group performance piece is also very exciting to me. In the Young Company, we have a variety of talents and skillsets, so it would be amazing to be able to use all those different skills in one piece.

MM: For SQA and other Queer companies to combine and support each other and shine focal points on less seen/socially accepted parts of the queer arts. I’ve recently let myself start exploring gender by becoming the drag King I always wanted to be. No doubt, sanctuary’s own Annabel Cooper (one half of Oasissy) And Yasoda (Aspargus) would be equally as excited to see Scotland’s Drag King/Monarch scene get a little bit more of the limelight – I love our queens though, don’t get me wrong! – by collaborating with companies like Shut Up and King. However, the longer-term goal for me and many other queer people Is for there to be a more normalised view of queerness throughout Scotland, and creativity is usually one of the best ways of opening minds, so Maybe we can tour, or the Newer Artists can! Dream big right?

For more information on Sanctuary Queer Arts click here