A Queer Reimagining of James Joyce’s Ulysses in Northern England

A Queer Reimagining of James Joyce’s Ulysses in Northern England

The town of Blackpool conjures a particular multisensory reaction that is hard to convey to those who live far away from its sticky seaside scope. Or perhaps it isn't so hard. Blazvegas: an upside-down Coney Island headrush, a ride that defies gravity, a windswept concrete strip of stalls selling sweets and plastic. A Golden Mile of pubs, clubs, casinos, and amusement arcades. A history of sea-bathing and smut. Stag and hen party heaven. A hedonism hub, as it is described in Pleasure Beach, the sheer number of ways to get “messed up” within one weekend spent in this town is staggering. So why choose this location for a queer romantic reimagining of Joyce's masterpiece set in 1999? The polarization of the two main characters in Joyce's Ulysses— Dedalus and Bloom, the mind and the body, the son and the father, the Catholic and the Jew—this was something I wanted to reimagine and somewhat dissolve in Pleasure Beach , and most importantly, with female rather than male voices. A queer love between two young women, Rachel and Olga, and a third interlocutor, Treesa, seemed the perfect way to do this: bodies, minds, desires and intensities flow between the characters and their environment in this place of sensory overload. Anyone visiting Blackpool now would find it a place of queer celebration and communion: recent research has shown that the town has the highest number of trans young people in the U. K. Gender multiplicities and all type of relationships are affirmed in Blackpool's contemporary environment, albeit sometimes with a brazen northern English charm offensive that in Drag Race terminology would be such a thorough “reading” that a whole new department of the library would have to be built. On 16th June, 2023, we launched Pleasure Beach in Blackpool on its very own Bloomsday. Late into the night in a gay bar, the collective and individual heckling that our group endured from a local DJ drag queen for being a group of international “lesbians” in that space was incredible: quickfire, hilarious, scorching. Far from being designed to injure it was part […]

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