The Playlist: David Sheppeard

Artist, producer and director David Sheppeard offers his picks from the print archive.

My playlist is predictably queer, personal and gooey. It features the artists I love, the work that has influenced my own practice, and spaces and places that have offered a path for the organisations I lead (The Marlborough Pub & Theatre and The Spire) in Brighton. The picks I have made are a small indicator of Total Theatre Magazine’s importance as a repository of queer memory. Historically queer people have fewer ways of passing stories down between generations (see Section 28 and recent controversy around LGBTQ+ education) – it can feel like every generation is starting from scratch. Looking through TTM again I am reminded of the lineage I feel part of and the inspirations from the past I can hold close in these confusing times.


1. Behind the Mask

I first saw Taylor Mac in Norfolk and Norwich Festival and his show The Be(a)st of Taylor Mac changed what I thought theatre could be, I have followed his work avidly every since.

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2. Cos I’m a Woman, W-O-M-A-N

Lois Weaver can be credited with nurturing generations of UK performance artists, amplifying the importance of autobiography and offering new tools as to how we can communicate with each other about things that matter (The Long Table).

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3. Le Freak - C’est Chic

Marisa Carnesky’s audacious imagination and independent spirit is something to behold. In this article, you can see the seeds of Carnesky’s Ghost Train, her iconic artistic project, which in its ten-year lifespan discovered a new generation of performers like Harry Clayton Wright and Paloma Faith.

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4. The Works: Adrian Howells

Adrian Howells was the outside eye on my first performance work. He gave me permission to be an artist. I think about him every time that I start a new project.

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5. A Special Relationship

Curious’ autobiology workshop was another pivotal moment for me as an artist, with Lesley and Helen showing how looking inwards can unlock unexpected stories. Here they discuss their relationship and two works, Smoking Gun and Family Hold Back, that I wish I had seen.

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6. New York, New York

New York’s downtown scene has been a key reference point for The Marlborough; I have great memories of working with Justin Vivian Bond, Kate Bornstein, Holly Hughes and Penny Arcade in our strange little space. Here’s a snapshot of New York performance history from 2012 focusing on Franklin Furnace and mentioning a host of artists.

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7. Celebrating 30 Years of the Drill Hall

Drill Hall were the first supporters of my work, I arrived just as the venue began to wrap up – Julie Parker (the artistic director) is someone I will never forget! The legacy of the artists the Drill Hall supported, like Bette Bourne, Neil Bartlett and Claire Dowie, make it an important part of the UK’s queer DNA.

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