Queer as a three-dollar bill – we don’t think so. This phrase has been used throughout the twentieth century as an insult against the Queer community. The Three Pound Coin Theatre Company are reclaiming it. The Student met with Co-founders and Executive Producers Issi Ladd (she/her) and Doug Stephenson (they/them) to talk about what the company is and why they started it in the first place.
What is the Three Pound Coin Theatre Company, and why did you start it?
Issi: Three Pound Coin Theatre is an Edinburgh-based independent theatre company, and we do Queer theatre! That means we specialise in stories about Queer characters, Queer narratives, Queer creators. Our main aim is to create a space that enables and encourages Queer creation in the Edinburgh theatre scene and the media industry around that. We wanted to take up space to make room for Queer artistry.
Doug: One of the unique things about us is, aside from the art, we are so community based. All of the work that we do is with the aim of reaching out to as many different Queer folk around Edinburgh.
As you were both part of other existing theatre companies and societies within Edinburgh, did you feel like there just wasn’t the space for Queer creation?
D: Definitely. There’s space for student art and creation, but there’s never really been the opportunity to put forward your identity in a space where you know you’re not going to be judged, you will be supported. We all have our own experiences from being within the Queer community so we’re in the best position to support and help others, and we want to cherish those who put themselves out there, who become vulnerable. This is what makes us stand out; we are led by and we are here for the Queer community, including people of all ages.
I: The four of us co-founders have known each other for longer than two years and we’ve definitely all felt the gap in the theatre, but never spoken about it. Until last July when Ben, Emily and I decided to do something about it.
In February you held a 24-Hour Radio Show with Mojo as your Launch Event, how did it go?
D: Our 24-hour radio show “Mojo Flips the Coin” was with the aim of establishing ourselves, getting our name out there, we’re here and I’m not going to finish the other half of that sentence!
I: The radio show was a huge success; it took a lot of work. Six of us had been working on it for six months. It was so surreal when it happened, we couldn’t be together throughout most of the planning and it wasn’t the event we initially thought that it would be; it was better. We ran a crowd-funder alongside it and split the donations from that and ticket sales between LGBT Youth Scotland and LGBT Health and Wellbeing.
D: We weren’t just creating this big launch event we were launching a company too. So much work went in behind the scenes to set up the CIC (Community Interest Company). Initially we were questioning: how are people going to be interested in us for 24 hours? The more we spoke to different people and charities it really took off. People were so supportive, our contributors and cast members were working so hard to get our names out there. Some parts of it felt so natural because ultimately, we’re just putting ourselves out there, not everything needed to be scripted. We’re not here to sell a product or anything like that, we’re here to bring people in and nurture creativity in the community we’re building around ourselves. I’m still so astounded at how positive the reaction to us has been. To look at the crowd-funder and see people I hadn’t spoken to for years donating was really beautiful.
How has COVID impacted your work?
I: Because we set up the entire company during COVID, I think it’s pushed us to do things we wouldn’t normally have done. I’m not sure we’d have done a radio show if it weren’t for COVID. I think we’ve all sat down in a room together twice. But really, we’ve overcome so much, as long as we get back to live theatre soon, we can keep doing whatever we need to do now. It’s taught us that we can communicate effectively wherever we are across the country. Nothing can really stop us.
D: I did worry that we wouldn’t be able to make meaningful connections over zooms and facetimes. It didn’t inhibit anything. Even though most of our friendships are based on online pub quizzes and movie nights, it’s the same as it would be if we’d been meeting in person.
What can we expect from you in the upcoming months?
I: At the moment we’re working towards a monologue series for film. We hosted a really successful 24-hour radio show and with that in mind as well as the ongoing restrictions we thought the best way to marry the radio show and live theatre was with a film series. We’ve just closed submissions for written monologues but shortly we’ll open calls for directors, actors, and producers. Then hopefully we’re going to have a Fringe show!
D: The radio show came about with the aim of getting our name out there, and our next big project, “Queering Edinburgh,” has four aspects to it to tell people were here to stay. One aspect being this film series, the Fringe show is going to be loosely inspired by the play “As time goes by” by the Gay Sweatshop Company, a very influential theatre group from the 80s. We have some podcasts lined up, and finally we have a project in the works in the same frame of “Humans of New York.” We’re planning on interviewing people in the Queer community, showcasing their stories and incorporating a photo series with that as well. We’re here for the long haul.
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