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Queer as Folk creator Russell T Davies to headline Manchester LGBTQ theatre festival Turn On Fest

In partnership with Hope Mill Theatre and Superbia.

By Will Stroude

Queer as Folk creator Russell T Davies is set to headline Manchester’s LGBTQ theatre festival Turn On Fest next month.

Organisers Hope Mill Theatre and Superbia have revealed that the acclaimed screenwriter will lead a jam-packed line-up of events and performances during next month’s festival, which takes place both in-person and online from 18-31 January. 

Davies, whose new series It’s A Sin is set to premiere on Channel 4 in the UK early next year, will discuss his storied career during a live-streamed event on Saturday 23 January hosted by former Coronation Street star Julie Hesmondhalgh, who memorably appeared in Davies’ 2015 LGBTQ drama Cucumber.

As well as offering online events to allow audiences to enjoy the festival amind the ongoing pandemic, Hope Mill Theatre has confirmed in-person events will operate with “strict” Covid-19 guidelines in place, including 50% audience capacity with rows spaced 2 metres apart and transparent safety screens between groups.

Another festival highlight will be Queer Musical Theatre Cabaret: All That Drag, a celebration of drag and musicals which is set to feature musical theatre singers and well-known drag stars in performance on Friday 29 Saturday and 30 January 2021.

Superbia, the queer arts programme which co-hosts Turn On Fest, is also set to host two key events within the festival – the Manchester premiere of comic Fat Roland’s Edinbrugh Fringe show Fat Roland: Seven Inch, and “chaotic” comedy game show · Make A Scene: Quizabella Rossellini, hosted by Gary James Williams and Grace Oni Smith.

Manchester’s Green Carnation Theatre company will also be screening four monologue plays by four emerging LGBTQIA+ writers under the banner of Queer All About It.

Exploring topics such as LGBTQ families, immigration, faith & sexuality, the films will be available to watch online on Friday 22 January 2021.

As part of Turn On Fest, Hope Mill Theatre has also offered development grants worth £1000 to Manchester-based theatre-makers Maz Hedgehog, Suriya Aisha, Finley Letchford-Dobs and Emma Hinds, who are all set to showcase their work during the festival.

Joseph Houston, Artistic Director of Hope Mill Theatre, previously said of Turn On Fest’s return: “At the beginning of 2020 we were delighted to launch Turn On Fest and offer a platform and opportunity for queer artists and work within the North West.

“We would never have imagined that the festival would have been Hope Mill Theatres only self-produced work for almost 7 months.

“We are so thrilled to be able to bring Turn On Fest 2021 after such a successful launch which saw many North West artists supported through development grants and offered a varied and diverse programme of work for our audiences and the LGBTQIA+ community.”

Turn On Fest runs from 18-31 January 2021. For more information click here.