Tom Marshman’s true life show, A Haunted Existence, about a West Country town rocked by homophobia in the 1950s, will tour the UK alongside forgotten local LGBTQ+ histories.
As Pride celebrations and the spreading legalisation of gay marriage are met with a rise of homophobic leaders and protests against inclusive education, it is both hard and easy to believe that until 1967 homosexual acts were illegal in the UK, with countless gay people persecuted.
Bringing the tragic story of one such person to the stage, whose arrest in 1954 led to a string of persecutions against gay men in Taunton, Tom Marshman will tour A Haunted Existence, following on from the production’s debut in Bristol last year.
In 1954, Geoffrey Patrick Williamson was arrested after approaching a fellow train passenger. The passenger was in fact a railway policeman. On arrest, Williamson gave the names of numerous men he had been involved with, resulting in a spate of prosecutions, including a decorated war hero who tragically took his own life using cyanide while in the police cells.
Commenting on the case at the time, the News of the World said it ‘was not that the population of Taunton is more debased than other groups of the community, but that once vice got established it spread like a pestilence and unless held in check, threatened to spread indefinitely’.
The show will use vinyl music, creative technology and projection to tell Williamson’s story.
Having worked with Bristol historian Jeanie Sinclair to uncover these stories, Marshman weaves together history and hearsay to pay tribute to these brave men, whose stories mirror those of many around the world, even in 2019.
Marshman will also work with local historians in London, Newcastle and Chepstow to memorialise the forgotten histories of other LGBTQI+ people, highlighting the turmoil, stigma and heartbreak many faced. These stories will be explored through different wrap around activities, including exhibitions and post-show talks.
When: On until 30th November 2019
Where: Touring to Gloucester, Chepstow, Brighton, London, Portland, London, Colchester, Exeter, Corsham and Newcastle
£: Ticket prices vary, depending on the venue. Suitable for ages 15+
More info: www.tommarshman.com