Returning for its fifth year, the Pride in Trafford festival is an annual exploration of LGBTQIA+ arts with world premieres and comedy sketches dominating 2023’s line-up. The yearly celebration, which takes place at Waterside Arts in Sale, is marking its fifth anniversary and 2023 will once again bring together a range of performers from cabaret to theatre, movement and more to celebrate Trafford’s diverse community.
Launching on Wednesday 17 May with an event marking the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, the world premiere of BI-TOPIA will take place in the evening. Directed by the iconic Rikki Beadle Blair, an actor, mentor, creative and host of many Northern Vogue Balls, BI-TOPIA depicts a narrative centred on the bisexual experience.
Running across all four nights of Pride in Trafford, the semi-autobiographical on-stage performance bravely explores the links between sexuality and mental health whilst also challenging societal norms. Taking inspiration from personal experiences and expanding on the wider LGBTQIA+ experience, BI-TOPIA also discusses perceptions of masculinity.
The performance will be accompanied by a visual installation from Sam Danson, a Manchester-based artist, creative and theatre maker who takes the leading role in the performance. The show prompts the viewer to rebuild “a world in ruins” by contributing their thoughts and ideas of an ideal inclusive society. The piece aims to explore the broken system for inclusivity that the artist believes has meant LGBTQ+ people have always had to battle for equality, acceptance and validity.
Launching alongside BI-TOPIA on the opening night is The Chosen Haram, a unique modern circus show performed on two Chinese poles merging dance and movement as it dives into the story of two gay men and their interactions through a dating app. The show documents the emotional journey through the societal, cultural and personal barriers the pair must overcome, all to a soundtrack of massive tunes.
No Pride festival is complete without a belly-aching bit of comedy, and this year, Laugh Riot returns to Pride in Trafford with an excellent line-up of alternative talent. MCed by cult favourite Jonathan Mayor, multi-award winning comedian Stephen Bailey will take to the stage, alongside Marie Goulbourne and Rosie Wilby of The Breakup Monologues illuminating Pride in Trafford with a hilarious evening of renowned comedic talent.
Comedy is also at the centre of Lawrence Batley Theatre and Ketchup Production’s dark comic production of Jesus, Jane, Mother & Me, coming to Pride in Trafford on Friday 19 May. Exploring themes of family, idolism and standing out from the crowd, the show blends black humour and heartache and was penned by award-winning playwright Philip Stokes. Expect a nod to Yorkshire’s cruise loving icon, Jane McDonald throughout the show, too.
As well as showcasing an eclectic range of LGBTQIA+ performance, Pride in Trafford also serves as a safe space for the young queer community to find their tribe. This year, the festival will join forces with local groups including Gorse Hill Studios and Rainbow Reflections to create a free Pride evening for young people across the district. The festival is also working alongside community groups to highlight the increasing number of hate crimes against the trans community and important issues surrounding sexuality, gender expression and identity, to create an outdoor installation entitled EMERGENCy.
Young people and families can also come together on Saturday 20 May for Mini Pride, which features creative activities and interactive storytelling with Curious Arts. Local restaurant Mano a Bocca will host a free informative outdoor celebration on Waterside Plaza as part of Pride on the Plaza, too. The afternoon will feature two free outdoor performances by Eleni Edipidi’s Levantes Dance Theatre, including a glitter doused afternoon tea experience.
Cllr Tom Ross, Leader of Trafford Council says: “I’m delighted to see another thrilling Pride programme taking place at Waterside. We are so fortunate to have such a great theatre in our borough and they are brilliant at providing such a feast of events that will appeal to everyone. I feel particularly privileged to be helping launch the start of the festival and I will be looking forward to attending a number of events during the week.”
2023’s Trafford Pride will close with a party at Mano a Bocca featuring pizza, comedy, cabaret and disco, as well as an appearance from legendary Manchester drag queen Belinda Scandal. Guests can expect an informal dinner complete with plates of Italian antipasti, pizza slices and glasses of vino.
Pride in Trafford 2023
Date: Wednesday 17 – Saturday 20 May
Venue: Waterside Arts