Inspired by American writer Audre Lorde’s poem of the same title A Litany for Survival is a King’s Players production written, directed and acted by King’s students. The play focuses on the struggles of the LGBTQ community and is led by a entirely LGBTQ production team.
Set in 80’s New York when the AIDs crisis was at its height, the play opens with a group of drag queens, rent boys, and feminist intellectuals grieving the loss of another drag queen who died from AIDs related complications. The death of Gloria, a pillar figure to the community, symbolically represents the diverging state of living LGBTQ communities were at during the crisis - outwardly glamorous, seemingly indulging in debaucheries, whilst living under the loom of systematic intolerance and the deadliness of HIV.
The play deals with a variety of societal issues that are very much relevant in our society today; trans rights, lesbian and women’s rights, race relations and most of all, representation of the LGBTQ experience. But what this production is able to do, is that they showcased them to the audience with emotional sensitivity and precise comedic timing.
The cast have strong chemistry, demonstrated through their journey from conflict to reconciliation. Each character brings another dimension to the representation of the AIDS epidemic, and each, whether that be Angela, Beau, Paris, Venus, Michael or Dee, forms an integral part to onstage magnetism of the play.
Joey Levenson, writer of this play, says that the story is about the power of community always been important to LGBTQ people, historically shunned by mainstream society. It is also about love - “drifting bodies coming together and finding love and beauty and solace in a relational network as opposed to an isolated one.” Reflecting the ethos in the play, it is worth noting that, behind the scenes the production was supported entirely by donations, raising a total amount of £400 which is unprecedented by any production in King’s College history.
Countering the erasure of LGBTQ voices, A Litany for Survival puts the LGBTQ experience at center stage. Watching this play as a queer person, I was emotionally stirred throughout, which shows just how important it is to give representation to marginalised voices, as well as speaking out your story. Because when faced with oppression and injustice, speaking is your only tool and weapon. To quote Audre Lorde “it is better to speak / remembering / we were never meant to survive.”
A Litany for Survival is on tonight at 8 pm, Bush House Auditorium.
Buy tickets here or on the door.