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Renowned singer songwriter David McAlmont delves into the closets of the UK’s historic houses to explore LGBTQ histories and their contemporary significance to create a new performance, girl.boy.child

Historian and respected singer songwriter David McAlmont has produced girl.boy.child, a series of performances drawing on LGBTQ histories, commissioned by ProfessorRichard Sandell, researcher and museum practitioner at The University of Leicester along with the National Trust.

The performances are the culmination of research during the National Trust’s 2017national public programme, Prejudice and Pride, and will shine a light on many of the houses’ LGBTQ heritage.

Together McAlmont and Professor Sandell spent the past year visiting Trust properties, meeting with experts, exploring the houses and researching the often lesser-known stories of same sex love and desire and gender diversity they hold. This unusual collaboration will be presented in a series of performances by McAlmont starting at Sutton House, London on 2 June 2018 with more NT properties to follow.

McAlmont’s unique performance will bring to life some extraordinary tales of people who challenged conventions of sexuality and gender as well as the places they created and inhabited. Told through an emotionally-charged blend of song, image and historical narrative, girl.boy.child invites audiences to reflect on how and why LGBTQ lives havebeen variously hidden and revealed, suppressed and celebrated and the contemporary
social and political significance of greater openness around LGBTQ histories as he weaves together the three stories of William John Bankes, Christopher St John and Henry Paget.The performance draws inspiration from research by the University of Leicester and visits made to a range of National Trust sites to draw on the stories they hold:

Plas Newydd in North Wales, home to the enigmatic Henry Paget, often referred to as the Dancing Marquess.

Smallhythe in Kent, home to ‘Edy and the Boys’ where Edy Craig, Christopher St John and Tony Atwood shared highly creative and politically engaged lives in a lesbian ménage a trois (pictured below).

Kingston Lacy in Dorset, created by traveller, collector and talented draughtsman, William John Bankes who fled England and went into exile in 1841 after being caught with a soldier in ‘an indecent act’.

This project has been commissioned by the National Trust with the University of Leicester’s Research Centre for Museums and Galleries (RCMG).

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Rob Harkavy

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