For the first time in four years, the Legacy Project has returned to Pride Month. Legacy 7 sees six local up-and-coming queer playwrights premiere their short plays that reflect their communities from across the rainbow spectrum. Artistic Director Bruce Brown discusses the importance of telling our stories.
Where did you grow up, and how was growing up there for you?
I’m an Aucklander born and bred, grew up out east in the Pakuranga ‘burbs. Had a local paper run, went to Scouts and was obsessed with Stargate SG1, Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Tintin comics and theatre.
What did coming out look like for you?
I only really realised I was gay and came out when I was 19/20. I was super focused on drama and school productions during high school that nothing else factored in. At that age, I had a solid, small group of friends, mostly other drama kids, so not the hardest people to come out to. Coming out to my parents was one of the scariest things I’ve done, mostly out of fear that I was letting them down for some reason. Now my brother is gay too, so I guess maybe it really is nurture, lol.
What first inspired you to start the Legacy Project?
Ten years ago, I was a relatively recent graduate from Unitec and really wanted to work on local queer stories. I had a desire to grow our community within the theatre space, to learn and to connect with each other – to offer anyone the opportunity to find out more about their own creative practice on stage.
What have been the most satisfying stories to see on stage at Legacy?
I’m drawn to the stories that cut into something deeply personal yet relatable. It’s a scary place for the writer to go, to be really honest with an audience. These worlds feel the most immersive and impressive. Simple domestic stories told from the heart.
Why has Legacy had a four-year hiatus?
Lack of funding. That endless energy sinkhole that is funding applications. Burnout. Needing time to reset.
Why was Pride 2024 the time to bring it back?
Over the years, people have continued to voice interest and hope that we would return. It’s really nice to have people talk about missing what it offered. So when Auckland Pride approached us, wanting to help us to return as part of their Pride Elevates initiative, how could we really say no? It feels perfect for us to now be returning back to the same Basement Theatre stage exactly 10 years from when we started.
In that time, how do you feel our stories have changed?
Context and settings change, but the core human emotions that bond us all, queer or not, are timeless. We offer writers the chance to share a peek into their unique viewpoint of the world. It can also be a mirror for the community to reflect on how they connect with these stories themselves.
What do you feel are the most pressing issues facing our communities right now?
For the theatre community, lack of funding for the arts and creative burnout for the artists volunteering hours of their lives to keep the lights on. For queer communities, we only need to look overseas to see that progress isn’t permanent if we don’t continue fighting for all sections of our precious LGBTQIA+ family.
What do you think is the best thing about being an openly gay man living in New Zealand?
We are truly living in the golden age of queer media. TV and film has been taken over with our stories and gay representation on screen. No longer do we need to write our own Jonathan Bailey & Matt Bomer fan fiction because it already exists.