Shortlisted for the Brighton Fringe Award for Excellence and following sold-out dates in London and Edinburgh Fringe 2018, Really Want to Hurt Me now embarks on a UK tour. This dark hit comedy from Flaming Theatre is about growing up gay in the ’80s featuring dance sequences and a soundtrack of classics from Culture Club, Eurythmics, Tears for Fears, The Smiths, Kate Bush and more.
This bittersweet production explores a queer struggle with suicidal low self-esteem in the face of homophobic bullying and the life-saving powers of pop music and theatre. It speaks directly to young LGBTQ people’s experiences today as well as to older generations.
Devon, 1984. Constant pressure to be straight and ‘masculine’ makes a schoolboy feel as if he’s living in Orwell’s 1984. School bullies. Teenage heartache. Hating yourself. Trying to tape the Top 40 from the radio without the DJ talking over the songs. Dancing defiantly to your Walkman to stay alive. A long time ago – but have things really changed all that much?
Writer and director Ben SantaMaria comments, This play is incredibly personal and close to the bone for me, exploring my own experiences and survival as a gay teenager when I was growing up in Devon. I keep being overwhelmed by how audiences are connecting and responding to the production in really personal ways too. LGBTQ people have shared their own similar experiences now or in the ’80s, when the play is set, which reinforces how there’s a huge amount of overlap between all our life stories from different eras. I’ve tried to use plenty of humour, and create an intimate connection between the character and the audience, to give a really relatable sense of what it’s like to live through homophobia, and the daily big and small pressures to be straight and gender-conforming, when you’re only just discovering your identity as a teenager.
Stonewall’s 2017 School Report study found that almost half of all LGBTQ pupils still face bullying, half regularly hear homophobic insults, and many suffer low self-worth, self-harm and attempt suicide. Really Want to Hurt Me cuts to the heart of how being marginalised impacts young queer people’s deepest sense of their self-worth. It also celebrates the ways in which they manage to survive and claim their identities against all odds. The show’s ’80s dance sequences give the isolated schoolboy a way of escaping his troubles and the audience are able to share this cathartic release with him.
In Sheffield, Exeter, Harlow, Cheltenham and Nottingham, Ben SantaMaria (writer/director) and Ryan Price (actor) will be offering free LGBTQ writing workshops. This is a fun, relaxed and safe space to explore writing from your own life experiences.
Supported using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England. Developed with support from Soho Theatre Young Company.