Derry playwright Rosalind Patton chats about her new play ‘The Christian Support Group: How Not To Catch The Gay’

Derry playwright Rosalind Patton is bringing her new play ‘The Christian Support Group: How Not To Catch The Gay’ to Studio 2 at the start of May.
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Described by Rosalind as ‘a light hearted comedy’, the aim of the piece, she says, is ‘to get people into the theatres to experience and be educated on all topics which people are a little afraid to have a discussion about’.

"This play is so light hearted yet with serious undertones yet remains non offensive,” she said.

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The ‘Journal’ attended Rosalind’s first play ‘I Didn’t See That Coming’ and found it uniquely funny.

Rosalind PattonRosalind Patton
Rosalind Patton

The comedy used Derry’s dark sarcastic humour as a strength while getting across a powerful message of what it was like to come out as gay back in the 90s during the Troubles.

The ‘Journal’ caught up with Rosalind to talk about the new play and about living as a practising Catholic who is gay.

But first a bit about Rosalind: “Everyone knows me as Rosie. I work in the cancer centre. In my free time, for the last couple of years, I have been writing. Even more recently I have been playwriting. Last year I did a play, ‘I Didn't See That Coming’. I quite enjoyed it. I got a wee bug for it.”

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Talking about her new play she said: “I've written now, ‘The Christian Support Group: How Not To Catch The Gay’ – people are in two minds of this one.

Cast of   "The Christian support group (how not to catch the Gay)"Cast of   "The Christian support group (how not to catch the Gay)"
Cast of "The Christian support group (how not to catch the Gay)"

“I have given this to people of a Christian background. I don't want to offend anybody. I've been told that it’s sensitively done and funny, evenly balanced. I think the title is rubbing people the wrong way. If they actually came to see the play I don't think they would be as annoyed or offended.”

Rosie continued: “I was raised very Catholic. I gave out Communion. I read at Mass. I was your proper straight-down-the-line Catholic. I still go to Mass and follow the church ways.

"With me being gay and part of the Catholic Church, what I wanted to do was write something evenly balanced. To kind of have that humour of ‘aw you are gonna catch it’, put a bit of humour behind the – not hate – but lack of understanding.

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"Spin the narrative to make it more palatable to everybody. I don't want this to be a play where just the queer community go to it or just the Catholic community. I want it to be a universal experience where everybody can come and experience these kinds of plays together, nobody in isolation.”

Poster for   "The Christian support group (how not to catch the Gay)"Poster for   "The Christian support group (how not to catch the Gay)"
Poster for "The Christian support group (how not to catch the Gay)"

Comedy is often a subjective thing. In Derry, after our historical past, our humour can seem quite dark. Rosie said: “The first one was a ‘coming-out’ play, humour with serious topics. Getting the community together, straight, queer, whatever.

"They really enjoyed the Derry humour and the Derry crack. Derry’s sense of humour is quite dark. Everything is a joke. After the first one it paved the way for me to go a bit further. Take a step risk-wise. In Dublin we got really good feedback. People stayed behind saying how much they related to it. How much it was like their life.”

Rosie’s play had a unique take on telling the journey of someone discovering their sexuality. She explained that a lot of queer plays focus on the relationship between two characters. Hers, however, are about a community.

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In her first play it was about a family’s acceptance. Her new one is about a religious acceptance. She believes this is what makes her plays more relatable.

Rosie’s first play was largely based on her own experiences coming out. The inspiration for her new play came from a more recent moment in her life: “I went to a Pride festival last year in Belfast and there was a guy with a megaphone calling us abominations. Shouting this in the street at young people who may just be coming out.

"Young impressionable people walking past who are maybe not comfortable with their sexuality and haven't come out hearing someone shout that at them. They might be thinking, ‘I might stay in the closet for a wee while’.

“I'm a practising Catholic. You can still have your belief but not every opinion needs to be heard. We don't need to hear you think someone is an abomination.

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"Only coming out on your soapbox on Pride? It doesn't make sense. You're tackling vulnerable people who don't know who they are or what they are yet. What this play is doing is telling anybody who wants to stand on that soapbox you don't need to.”

If you are interested in Rosie’s new play ‘The Christian Support Group: How Not To Catch The Gay’ details follow: “Freya, a Christian support worker is met with great resistance during a support group on ‘how not to catch the gay’, her beliefs are challenged with new modern-day insights.

“Amy, attends the group as she is convinced she is catching ‘The Gay’ like it’s a disease and is seeking support at the group session.

“Freya, struggles with convincing a group of individuals from all backgrounds that abstaining from the sin of homosexuality is the only way forward.

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"Will the group be able to convince Freya that love is love no matter who or what you are and become a more open and accepting Christian or will Freya continue to be committed to her beliefs?’

The play will run for 2 nights in Derry May 2-3 2024 in Studio 2 and will run for 4 shows over 3 days in Dublin from May 6-9, 2024.

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