20 plays and musicals to read to mark Pride month

Theatres might be closed but you can still celebrate Pride month!

Mika Johnson in Pink Lemonade
Mika Johnson in Pink Lemonade
© Max Zadeh

June is Pride month and, while venues up and down the country are sadly closed – that doesn't mean that you can't get your theatre fix from the printed page! We've picked out a mere slice of the canon with 20 stage plays that can educate and celebrate.

Paul Boakye – Boy With Beer

This play was a solid hit when it ran at the King's Head Theatre a few years ago, exploring the love affair between two black men over three nights, each separated by one month.

Tarell Alvin McCraney – Wig Out!

Wig Out!
Wig Out!
© Teresa Wood

Before he penned the screenplay for hit film Moonlight, McCraney was making all sorts of waves with his powerful writing. Though many many shows would be perfectly pertinent to read this month, we've gone with Wig Out!.

Lisa Kron / Jeanine Tesori / Alison Bechdel – Fun Home

One of the best new musicals of the last decade, Fun Home is based on Alison Bechdel's brilliant graphic novel and explores how different generations and genders can experience gay romance.

Taylor Mac – Hir

Taylor Mac
Taylor Mac

Taylor Mac has been pivotal in transforming contemporary ideas of gender and performance over a massive career. His play Hir examines what it is like to have a transgender child in a household.

Michael R Jackson – A Strange Loop

The Pulitzer-winning musical hasn't yet arrived in the UK but is on Spotify, and it's certainly worth reading up on because we expect it'll only go from strength to strength over the coming years.

Sarah Daniels – Neaptide

Daniels' Neaptide was the first full-length play by a female playwright at the National Theatre – premiering just under 35 years ago in 1986. It describes the life of a lesbian mother in the '80s, facing a custody battle and uncertainty over her career as she comes out.

Paula Vogel – Indecent

© Carol Rosegg

Its run at the Menier Chocolate Factory was cut short by the pandemic (though it will be back, we're assured) but in the meantime, it's well worth checking out the play, which won a number of awards after its US premiere.

Aziza Barnes – BLKS

Mississippi-dwelling gender non-binary writer Barnes is one of the most exciting new voices of the last decade. Their play BLKS was originally penned at university but was later performed by Steppenwolf's Theatre Company in Chicago in 2017.

Mart Crowley – The Boys in the Band

Mark Gatiss and Jack Derges in The Boys In The Band
Mark Gatiss and Jack Derges in The Boys In The Band
© Darren Bell

Crowley's 1968 play was one of the first to put gay men's lives onstage in an accessible and unapologetic way and, given that the playwright sadly passed away in the last year, now would be a great time to read up on Crowley's works.

Jeremy O Harris – Daddy

© Matt Saunders

The piece was meant to have had its UK premiere at the Almeida Theatre this year (but has been postponed due to the virus) and follows a young black artist who becomes involved with an older European art collector.

MJ Kaufman – Sagittarius Ponderosa

The struggle to assert your trans-identity is brought into blistering clarity in Kaufman's piece, which follows Archer, who returns to his Central Oregon family where he is still referred to as Angela.

Jo Clifford – Eve

Penned by Clifford in collaboration with National Theatre of Scotland, the piece is based on Clifford's own experiences and is a vital account of trans experiences in the UK.

Mika Johnson – Pink Lemonade

Mika Johnson in Pink Lemonade
Mika Johnson in Pink Lemonade
© Max Zadeh

Mika Johnson's play is very recent, having only just had its world premiere at the Edinburgh Fringe as part of HighTide and Queer House's season. Our critic Daisy Bowie-Sell said that Johnson is "a dynamic new voice" in her dissection of what it means to be masculine or feminine, and we certainly agree.

A Rey Pamatmat – Edith Can Shoot Things and Hit Them

Pamatmat's play sees three youngsters growing up in isolation and, in their own little world, develop unique relationships that are enriching, uplifting and more – a great piece that needs to be seen in the UK.

Jordan Cooper – Ain't No Mo

The New York Times described Ain't No Mo as "thrilling, bewildering, campy, shrewd, mortifying, scary, devastating and deep", exploring both contemporary black American life and the legacies of slavery and the treatment of African-Americans over the decades.

Jon Brittain – Rotterdam

Bethan Cullinane and Lucy Jane Parkinson in Rotterdam
Bethan Cullinane and Lucy Jane Parkinson in Rotterdam
(© Helen Maybanks)

Brittain's Rotterdam is one of the most successful British plays to come out of recent years, charting trans experiences and relationships. It recently completed a hit tour.

Tanya Barfield – Bright Half Life

US playwright Barfield writes a touching and heartfelt play about a lesbian couple's relationship that spans decades – juxtaposing the timelessness of love with the contemporary significance of telling same-sex romantic stories.

Douglas Carter Beane – The Nance

Nathan Lane led this hit Tony Award-winning comedy about the lives of burlesque performers during the 1930s, especially stock camp characters known as "nances".

Evan Linder and Andrew Hobgood – Five Lesbians Eating a Quiche

Here's a fun one – Linder and Hobgood's piece follows five members of The Susan B Anthony Society for the Sisters of Gertrude Stein who are isolated together after an atomic explosion. Its quarantine-y vibes may be very apt for the current circumstances.

Temi Wilkey – The High Table

Another recent play that only just had its premiere, The High Table sees generations (living and not) come together for a lesbian couple's wedding.

Also try:

Last Summer at Bluefish Cove by Jane Chambers
The Inheritance by Matthew Lopez
Angels in America by Tony Kushner
Beautiful Thing by Jonathan Harvey
Torch Song Trilogy by Harvey Fiersten
The Drag by Mae West
Coming Clean by Kevin Elyot
Since U Been Gone by Teddy Lamb