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Imagine a moment… now imagine it BRIGHTER Outbox are proud to present BRIGHTER, a collection of writing made for performance that re-affirms, delights, disrupts, inspires action, and reaches towards a queer utopia. When the world felt like it was shutting down in 2020, BRIGHTER helped us to keep connecting with LGBTIQ+ people. This collection gives a glimpse of the artistry and creativity to be found within our communities. BRIGHTER began as a set of 12 writing tasks, which could be accessed by a website, SoundCloud or a resource pack. The aim was to inspire and activate writing for performance. Outbox worked with groups across the country to guide them through the tasks and help facilitate the writing. We would like to give special thanks to the amazing groups that we worked with across the UK: Leicester LGBT Centre, LGBT Foundation, Micro Rainbow, OutBurst, The Proud Trust, SAYiT, Say It Loud Club and Step Out. The website was also promoted on our social media- anyone could join in and share their voice. The writing that we received was so powerful that we wanted to platform it further. As a team, it has been so fulfilling and inspiring to connect with you through words, images and performance. It’s important to say that this project was never about results or an end product. Many of you may have completed a piece of writing that was just for you, enjoyed 1 or 2 tasks on the website, or appreciated and nurtured others ideas and thoughts. BRIGHTER belongs to all of you.

Outbox are: Char Boden Ben Buratta Barry Fitzgerald Mika Onyx Johnson Mandla Rae Yaz Zadeh

Producer Artistic Director Associate Artist Associate Artist Associate Artist Associate Artist

Human Suit by Martha-May Corton

A body. A body of water. A body of water that curves in places and takes up spaces. In my own rhythm, ignoring the given. Rocking. Rising, Falling, Rising, Falling. Just doing me. Duality. Floating… Merrily along. I feel every wave and drop of emotion so deeply, which is strange because I remember once when it changed, everything felt so shallow and hollow and meaningless. Something felt lost, there about I couldn’t hold it, no light could reach the depths of me. And now it’s just different. I see I never truly left, but now I’m back. Drowning in self-confusion, under mad illusions. Drowning. Crashing. Lost.

Now floating, freely as the breeze, ferociously unbound, an untethered soul. I’ve sailed home, navigating without a thought. Heart and mind open. To give and receive. Transcended, I’ve journeyed, I’ve come home to myself. Hiding in the depths is just love, life in full colour and beauty, it feels great to just admit it. Admit it. It. Time doesn’t exist and can’t run out either, but also don’t waste a moment in worry… just rise. To myself and to whoever is listening to the echoes You’ll come home one day, and it’ll feel like you never left. Because shock horror you never did. So assured and so held, continually evolving and changing. Safe in my storm. Unbound in this energy. My energy. Unbound. My nan always says to me “It’s your fault if you can’t take a joke” and she is right yano. A little joke from the universe, a part of me but not me. In this world but not of it…. A bright body of water contained and confined. I am that and so much more combined.

Anti-metropolis by Tallulah Howarth

I have hung our fabrics out, gripping onto the oak arms out of sheer will and wetness. You tossed them in the hot spring until they regained the colour of a fresh morning.

If what you want is moss and a solitary place to sit, then find it here. If what you want is pixie-sized fungi to admire, then find it here. If what you want is harp and drone, then find it here. My beloved people, creatures of the woodland: why does utopia have to be unattainable?

No mum I’m not gonna peak at 18, I’m gonna peak in middle age when I have a nice house and no homework by Victor Tindle

The ache pulls me to earth My joints stiffen My bones creak Reminding me of what is to come I will weather and weaken Rely on new legs Grey will mix with neon Become winter with the rest I’ll see doctors and surgeons Transform into myself Lose but gain loved ones It’ll be better for my health I’ll get out of school Get my dream career Hang pictures on my walls Keep what I hold dear I’ll bake on the weekends Fill my life with love Spend time with my friends My smile will fit like a glove But for now I will go to the kitchen Make my soup And watch my lectures

Take Me Home by Jenn Lister

Silphium pollen on the drifting breeze, carried in swathes of wind through the reeds. The narrow roads that sway me home, to the lanolin arms of the woman I've known.

There's a bite to the salt that she kneaded inside the bread that waits for me, warm at my bedside

Discovery by Emmy Clarke

Picture this, my love: A giant punnet of strawberries, red and juicy; their bright green noggins chopped off for easy morning munching. You and I are sitting side-by-side on the grassy turf above the beach, and every so often I boop your foot with mine. We are the only souls alive in the entire world - or so it seems - enjoying a fruity breakfast and awaiting a sunrise custom-made for us alone. Once again you have lent me your butch sunglasses, and once again I have tied your fringe up in my scrunchie while you sit patiently and watch me grin. You ask, with humour, your fringe sticking straight up, “Are you happy?” I am, I am!

The sun begins to rise over the sea. Likewise, gasps rise within us, for the sea is a bright and beautiful pink. And it is fizzing, bubbles rising to the surface to shimmer and pop. Amazed, we scramble to our feet, scamper to investigate. You roll the cuffs of your trouser legs up and I kick my shoes off. Hand in hand we make our giggling way into the liquid magic, the inexplicable pink. We scoop the fizziness up to our lips. Tentative tongues dart out to test. We grin in delight. Pink lemonade! Our favourite. Laughing, we stand in the golden light of daybreak and take it in turns letting each other sip from our cupped hands. I am reminded of the first time you kissed me, under the stars in front of my childhood home. I had laughed then, as I am now with the surprised, unbridled joy of discovery.

Rainbows by Lee

Rainbows, what do they remind you of? To Christians, they are a gift from God to apologise for the flood. Some people hope to find a pot of gold at the end of one (which is impossible by the way). LGBT+ people may recognise it as the colours on their pride flags. Others see it as a symbol of hope. But to me, I see rainbows as the beauty in the rain, the light that shines upon us and the freedom that brings. But remember, to see a rainbow you first must face the rain. It’s raining. The cold tears of the sky fall and caress my face. A gentle embrace. The pitter-patter almost creates a rhythm. My feet begin to move to the gentle beat. A soft solemn symphony echoes in my head and the gentle tune escapes my lips. The rain is never a reason for me to be morose; it's a soft lullaby and a harsh truth: A fantasy set in reality. My hair slicks together as the tempo increases. I suddenly feel my heart speed up, heat brushes my cheeks as my hot, heavy breaths escape my lips. Raindrops outline my body as they run marathons from my head to my toe. My feet splash in puddles as I prance about. The cool fresh air sparks alert yet is refreshing. I’m free here. The rain washes away my stress, insecurities and worries. Nothing could ruin this perfect moment. Snap. My eyes flash open and I freeze in my tracks. Although the beat is still there the melody doesn’t play. Suddenly I’m alone. Alone in the cold, harsh rain. I’m a rabbit in the presence of a wolf. Suddenly I’m exposed. My true self is out there for the world to see - they’re judging. The patter of the rain swiftly becomes the pounding of the war drums as clouds of hate surround me. Suddenly I can't breathe. I’m drowning.

“Leila?” A shout, although in the downpour it can be hardly heard. Luckily I do recognise this voice so there’s no need for me to panic. It’s my girlfriend, Olivia; she is standing at the entrance of the clearance in the forest. The very damp clearing I chose to dance in. She approaches. “I thought I’d find you here.” Her voice is so comforting, like warm hugs on winter days. “Am I so predictable?” I respond in a laugh. Now she’s standing in front of me, her piercing brown eyes studying mine. She’s taller than me but not by a lot. Truly she is a goddess. Olivia then gets down on one knee and offers her hand, “May I have this dance m’lady.” I take her hand and we move into a waltz. Clumsy feet moving to the pitter-patter of the rain. We laugh and joke as we stumble and bumble around. We may not be professional dancers but I couldn’t describe this moment as anything other than perfect. The rain eventually slows and we break apart. We’re out of breath, sweaty and entertained. The dark, gloomy clouds begin to go away and in the skyline, a rainbow shines bright. I point a finger towards it but Olivia has already seen it. We kiss before we head back inside. So to some people, rainbows may mean hope. Others can look for that pot of gold. But for me, Rainbows are the beauty within us all.

Brighter Days If Only by Richie Adam

Luscious Summer sunshine, It's who we are, It's what we are, Nothing can break us, Because Facing the truth Is more real Than hatred. Orange, red clouds Disappear As I melt whilst looking at your body From a cruel, cruel hateful distance. Remember when there was a season on Earth Called Summer? I spent some time, mid nineties, Watching beige trousers and funny shades of blue jeans, Watching groups of men grinning, laughing, shaking hands, hugging, And Guinness was great From the Cornerhouse in Manchester, Cigarettes were friends back then. Now the world Is enclosed in a darkness, Darker than Guiness. It's always winter , White sky days, Rainy days, Days of lonely pink clouds, Its cold, cold now. I pray for summer to be a reality, each year, once again.

Dreams by William McGeough Our storyteller is alone, they are 20-40 and any gender. There’s nothing more boring than listening to other people’s dreams. People who tell you them are usually lying anyway. Just want something to say. I did it as a kid; “I dreamt about you last night” then bullshit some surreal scenario, just to talk to someone. Embarrassing. But this dream from the old world. When I was the old me. Is the only recurring dream I’ve ever had, and I’m not making it up. So, I’m going to tell you and sorry, if you’re bored. I was still living with Mum and Neil so none of the shit had kicked off yet. At least not properly. The bullying had sort of calmed down so I ‘spose I was early teens. And it’s night time at the old flat, no one else is around and I’m in the kitchen and I’m … A light illuminates a kitchen ...naked, so I know it was a dream. I was never ever naked in that kitchen. I wouldn’t even go in my kitchen naked now, but then everything about me felt freakish. My body most of all. So I’m in the kitchen nakedly doing – whatever. It’s different each dream. Looking for my charger, stealing change from out of mum’s cagoule or taking one of Neil’s fags. Yeah, I was a thief on top of everything. It’s quite normal, except the naked thing. Well, as normal as anything was back then. And there’s this shadow on the back wall, but that’s always there. See? They point to a shadow on one of the walls Then in my peripheral vision the shadow moves. Only slightly so maybe it’s just my eyes or a moth that’s flown across the lightbulb. We still had moths then, and butterflies. I continue. Where’s my charger? Or mum’s money? Or the fags? It moves again.

It’s pulsing subtly. Breathing. I pretend not to notice because, let’s be honest a breathing shadow is not what anyone wants to see. And if I do look at it. It stops. They stare at the shadow for a while If I look away, I sense it grow. Millionth of a millimetre by millionth of a millimetre. But I want to show I’m not scared. I’m big now! So, I sing and I hate singing out loud but I do sing. Some diva who gave me strength then (and now). Kylie or Britney or Dolly or Miley or Whitney. Beyonce. I sing Beyonce. “Single ladies, all the single ladies, all the single ladies...hands up.” Behind my back, still it grows. Bolder now. I slam drawers and cupboards, making noise to combat this silent threat. I stamp my feet, clap my hands. I hate clapping too, along to music - so stressful (I never do it in time). But I clap. Making it gospel. Going to church. I even whoop. Single Ladies – Cupboard slam. Single ladies – rattle cutlery drawer. Single ladies – smack fish slice on side of microwave. Two, Three, Four. The shadow isn’t fooled though. It stays there, this demonic elephant in the room. So I… (to the shadow) “Okay, I see you. And I know you want to possess me somehow.” (to us) I just know it wants to possess me somehow. (to the shadow) “So fucking well get on with it and fucking take me”. (back to us) The shadow waits for a very long time. It’s silent except the buzzing from the fridge. Then it darkens to this impossibly empty black and expands enormously to engulf me. The shadow fills the space with blackness. And I sink into it, and it’s warm. And I’m not afraid anymore. Then in a pop. It is light again. But, it was just a dream. And there’s nothing more boring than listening to other people’s dreams is there? Sorry.

Coming Out by Adrian Lewis

“We didn’t raise you to like boys” Is what he told me when I told him the truth. “We loved you, Cared for you” Past tense.

I had expected this when I had made my decision. “How could you do this to us” I didn’t do anything to you. Don’t you dare blame me for being myself. Yet I still find myself apologizing for not turning out the way they wanted me to.

A Long Day of Walking by Nicholas

The blue sky I see decorations Every one busy It starts to rain cats and dogs I feel happy amidst the rain I see decorations I hear birds singing Out on the streets The blue sky

Smile on my face Everyone smiling back Out on the streets Big, small and tall trees Blue and pink lights Everyone happy Out on the streets The blue sky.

Untitled by Casper

“I won’t cry for you, I won’t crucify the things you do” plays through my head as in running out of my classroom, down the stairs. It’s full of colours, paintings on the 2nd flight of stairs, yet the stairs are bare in general. It smells of bacon butties, quite a comforting smell really. But don’t get me started on the people here. It’s 2020, we are going through a pandemic, and here are kids bumping into each other, not wearing masks, mixing in with other year bubbles. No wonder the corona cases are bad here. As I reach the ground floor, and proceed to head outside, there’s the “big” boys of my year, saying “yes then [deadname]” It makes me really want to strangle them. It’s been like this for a year, getting crap from being myself, from being trans, and it really does suck. They don’t care when people come out as Pansexual, bisexual, gay or even poly, but coming out as a trans person or an enby is a totally different ball game. And this is why I want to become an English teacher. I mean, it’ll be a hard journey to get there, as my grades are pretty sh*t, but I’ll get there. I want to be there for the kids, unlike the teachers at my school are. I want to spread awareness around schools, do assemblies and lessons based around topics like BLM, or LGBTQ+ or just mental health, because we do hardly anything based around that. Anyways Hi, I’m Lucas, and I guess this is me expressing my problems in some way? Whether it be to do with school, or about my journey on becoming a trans man, and I hope this might reassure people, that they aren’t alone. One of the worst things for me is going out. The overwhelming thoughts make me sick. Do I pass? Is everyone looking at me? It’s scary man, I hate being alone. I’ll spend ages getting ready just so I look like everyone’s standards. Don’t get me started on the smells, it smells like smoke, or sometimes weed depending on where I am. It reeks, there’s litter everywhere. I guess that’s Hull for you. Don’t get me started on the people again. Lack of masks?

Lack of respect? They scare me, they act as if they own the place, it’s stupid. People in cars are stupid, speeding or just being stupid, learn to drive mate. And don’t even get me started on those in Queens Gardens, playing music, doing drugs, smoking, giving snarky remarks and being horrible to us, it’s horrendous. But like I said, that’s Hull for you. On Sept 30th 2019 I came out as transgender, and a lot of people were understanding, my friends started calling me Lucas and it felt weird but made me happy. I should’ve started my counselling this year, but due to COVID, I haven’t been able to finish the forms etc., as my doctors are only open for emergencies. Anyways, I slowly started coming out to teachers and it helped, because some of them just went with it, it made me happy, even if they messed up they corrected themselves. However, my school's old safeguarding officer basically outed me to teachers I wasn’t ready to come out to yet, I hate her for it, but the teachers were understanding and I appreciate them for that. Lockdown caused a lot of issues for me, but I got a binder!! My hair was growing long and it was UGLY, but as soon as hairdressers opening, I got it cut and felt way better. Then in August, my parents legally changed my name to Lucas, and I now finally have a middle name too! I’m hoping to start T one day, and get top and bottom surgery, but this year has been a rocky journey. A lot of kids at my school still pick on me etc, but I just ignore them. I’m Lucas, no one can change this. And this is why I want to be a teacher in general, I want to help the children going through things like I am now as it’s hard to deal with honestly, and I don’t want them to be alone with this. I guess I really wrote this as a kinda journey of my life. I mean I’m only 15, I still have a long way, but I hope people know that it does get better, and it will, it just takes time. :)

Small Utopia by Chase Waterman

Droplets cling to blades of grass, and I inhale the freshness of clean life into my lungs. Birds harmonise, light twitters and low caws as flocks and murders fly from tree to tree and block out the sun. The grass is green, vividly so, stretching endlessly and damp with dew that gently refracts the sunlight, comforting as it crunches underfoot.

Tea tastes like nature and home, sweet and warm enough to feel like a soft embrace, slipping down my throat and to my heart. I know that I can do anything, be anything, without fear and without the possibility of judgement clouding my vision and causing tremors in my bones. It's not that everything is mine for the taking, but I belong to the world just as totally as it belongs to me, a mutual embrace and a mutual love. It’s the feeling of never having to say ‘I could have’, because I did.

BRIGHTER BRIGHTER was developed and delivered by Outbox associate artists Barry Fitzgerald, Mika Onyx Johnson, Mandla Rae and produced by Char Boden. Outbox create spaces where queer people can dream and imagine. Collaborating with LGBTIQ+ performers, artists and communities we think, share, create, perform, and dance together. Instagram: @OutboxTheatre Twitter: @Outbox_Theatre Supported by the Big Lottery Fund and The Royal Central School of Speech and Drama © Outbox and Individual Contributors, 2021 All rights reserved. No reproduction, copy or transmission, in whole or in part, may be made without written permission.

Martha-May Corton - Tallulah Howarth - Victor Tindle Jenn Lister - Emmy Clarke - Lee - Richie Berd William McGeough - Adrian Lewis - Nicholas - Casper Chase Waterman


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