Guest Blog: Leon Fleming: “It’s about making noise and raising cash and doing whatever we can to help a persecuted people in Chechnya while the majority of our media and politicians turn their faces away.”

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This week for three nights only we’re putting on a double-bill of short plays and a panel discussion in response to horrific reports which have been leaked out of Chechnya regarding the rounding-up, imprisonment, humiliation, torture, and murder of gay and bisexual men in the region. Thursday to Saturday, 11-13 May at the Theatre Delicatessen Old Library in Elephant and Castle.

And you have to come. It’s imperative that you come. This is going to be a fantastic entertaining, informative, important, visceral, empowering, encompassing event. But more than that, it’s about making noise and raising cash and doing whatever we can to help a persecuted people in Chechnya while the majority of our media and politicians turn their faces away.

Around a month ago we first started hearing the stories. At first only the LGBT press were even remotely interested. Gradually other mainstream news sources started carrying the story, and looking further into it. We already know the whole of Russia have for the last few years being exercising a programme of pushing LGBT people further into the margins of society.

Rehearsal Images

Rehearsal Images

But for the first time since the rise of Nazism in Germany have gay men being actually rounded-up by authorities and placed into prison camps where they are being tortured with electricity, beatings, starvation. And those that are let go, are taken to their families who are intrusted to kill their own children in order to restore family honour.

What world is this?

And in Europe?  And only seventy years since the last time it happened!

So, we’re putting on plays; because we don’t know what else to do. I wrote Boris Got Buggered in 2013 when Putin ratified his gay-propaganda law federally; it’s a satire on the way governments use the machinery of the civil service in order to remove humanity from statute, and how this particular law silences LGBT people. The second play, Ramzanland is Freedomland has been written in the last two weeks in direct response to the reports which have come out of Chechnya. Again it involves satire, because I felt that only through satire could I even begin to demonstrate the horror. We’ve even got Ian McKellen in on the act, lending us his voice.

It’s all down to director Scott Le Crass really; from the minute I said I wanted to write a rapid-response piece, he’s been on it. On top of the plays, there will also be a panel discussion each night. Because we need to talk about what is going on, and how we can keep the noise going, the pressure up, and how we can help. And we need to raise cash; in this case for Amnesty International UK. This year marks 50 years since the partial decriminalisation of homosexuality in the UK, and our authorities have been guilty of some of the same things as the Chechen authorities. That can’t be ignored. We, and our government have a responsibility to our dark recent history to do something.


Thursday 11 – Saturday 13 May 7:30pm

Theatre Delicatessen Old Library, 39 Wells Way, London, SE5 0PX

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