New Queer Voices: Musical theatre playwright and composer Toby Marlow

'SIX the musical' creator says how he is working to dis-establish stereotypes of the 'gay best friend'


In Attitude's 25th anniversary issue - available to download and to order globally now - we're showcasing the boundary-pushing, trailblazing talents who'll be paving the way for the next next 25 years.

SIX the musical creator Toby Marlow is working to dis-establish stereotypes of the 'gay best friend' and 'gal pal'. Here the playwright and composer tells how he is using his platform to give convey new and queer perspectives...

He tells Attitude: "We live in a world where queer narratives are often told from non-queer mouths and with non-queer voices because it’s these voices that are given more heard in society.

"In SIX, my collaborator (Lucy Moss) and I tried to give voice to female historical figures whose lives had previously been told solely from the perspective of men, and in Hot Gay Time Machine, we (Zak Ghazi-Torbati, Lucy and I) gave ourselves a platform to explore and tell our own queer experiences in a way that embraces and challenges the stereotypes that were set upon us growing up.

"A common theme is that we’re interested in providing a voice for people who are or have been misrepresented in the past, using our platform as storytellers to convey new, and often queer, perspectives.

"In an upcoming musical stage project, my collaborator and I are looking at the ways friendships between queer people and their allies are represented on stage.

"It’s often female characters and their “gay best friend”, or gay male characters with their “gal pal.” We are working to dis-establish those stereotypes by representing friendships between queer people and their allies that will hopefully both challenge and embrace loving someone who is different from you.

"I hope that over the next 25 years, all popular culture — be it theatre, film or TV — continues to produce increasingly diverse representations of queerness.

"Even over the past few years in musical theatre, there have been some incredibly successful and entertaining shows that have put queer narratives in the centre and explore a range of different queer identities.

"The wider the range of queer identities represented, the more queer people can go to the theatre and feel included, understood and seen — to see our identity represented as a protagonist, and not just a sidekick, villain or gimmick.

"If my collaborators and I can do anything to contribute to that constellation of queer narratives, even if it’s only one silly little star called Hot Gay Time Machine, then I’ll be happy."

SIX is currently playing at the Arts Theatre in London now.

Meet more queer trailblazers in Attitude's 25th anniversary issue, out now.

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