If you’re someone likely to be tucked up in bed at a reasonable hour, you might not be all too familiar with the gay after-parties that take over urban living rooms each and every weekend.
By their very nature, they happen behind closed doors, but a new play will be bringing this phenomenon out into the open this Autumn — a novelty that seasoned veterans of the pastime will also appreciate. We spoke with the producer of Jock Night, Mike Lee, to hear a little more about what’s in store…
Hey Mike! So Jock Night’s coming to London this Autumn. Tell us a little bit about it.
Created by Adam Zane, Jock Night is a theatrical representation of contemporary gay life, love, and relationships. It blends raw emotion, humour, and a touch of provocative drama to shed light on the vibrant and world-famous Gay Village
in Manchester. It was originally conceived as a theatrical soap opera being presented at our annual OutStageUs new writing event before Adam decided to write the full play. The play presents thought-provoking LGBTQ+ issues through a lens of comedy and compassion.
It sounds like it’s not exactly PG…
You’ve hit the nail on the head. Jock Night doesn’t shy away from the authentic portrayal of the gay scene, which means it delves into mature themes, relationships, and situations that might be best suited for an adult audience. The play uses its mature content to explore genuine emotional, psychological, and social dynamics in the gay community, making it a powerful, — albeit at times risqué —theatrical experience. It’s cheeky, flirty and frisky, but it’s not all about bare-naked flesh. It’s also about the reality of these situations that many within our community find themselves in.
The play’s been staged before. How will this version be different?
While Jock Night did enjoy a successful hour-long version in 2019, this new iteration promises to go
into more depth. Produced in association with Seven Dials Playhouse, the play has now been extended to a two-act version, so we can explore the characters and themes a little better. We have worked on ensuring that authentic voices are represented on stage and we delve into mental health, access to PrEP, HIV stigma and much
more to really present the highs and lows of our community. Moreover, the cast ensemble has seen a few changes, bringing together a mix of previous actors and fresh faces.
There are a lot of negative things written about the gay after-party scene — do you think there’s anything to be said in its defence?
Like any subculture, the gay after-party scene has its critics and proponents. While criticism often stems from genuine concerns about health and well-being, it’s essential to understand the cultural and social significance of these spaces. To understand
it better, Adam interviewed people in Manchester, and they often told us how the after-party scene offered them a space of liberation, self-expression, and community in a world that often marginalises and stigmatises them. They told us how it has helped them form strong friendships, they told us great love stories and hugely comic moments.
However, we know it’s always vital to ensure personal well-being and safety. We wanted Jock Night not to shy away from discussing the important issues, but to do it in a non-judgmental way thaT means audiences don’t walk out of the show feeling judged, but hopefully enlightened and empowered by what they see on stage.
It’s set in Manchester, but showing in London. What do you think the main differences are between the city’s gay scenes?
Both Manchester and London boast thriving and historical gay scenes, but each has its unique flavour. Manchester’s Gay Village, centred around Canal Street, offers a close-knit community vibe, rich in history and significance, especially for the North of England. On the other hand, London, with its vastness, presents a more diversified scene with areas like Soho, Vauxhall, and Clapham each having its distinct character and appeal. London’s scene tends to be larger and more cosmopolitan due to its global nature.
Jock Night, while rooted in Manchester, will resonate with Londoners as the themes explored are universal within the LGBTQ+ community — particularly in this case, men that have sex with men. The play is set at the club night Jock, which started off back in 2016 as the brainchild of MJ Palmer, a personal trainer from Manchester. It was a new
type of club night on Manchester’s gay scene that incorporated the mild side of a fetish night with all the fun of a dance party, very much an inclusive night that lacked attitude and had a real sense of community. These types of events are now happening all over the country, with lots in London, so the setting is more universal than it ever has been before.
Jock Night – Monday 9th October to Saturday 4th November,
Seven Dials Playhouse,
1A Tower St, WC2H 9NP
Nearest Station: Covent Garden
Get tickets today at sevendialsplayhouse.co.uk