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Are You On The Bus?

  • By: Outburst Arts and Kabosh
  • Location: Belfast Stories site
  • When: Summer – Winter 2024
  • Creative Me Profile: Community Connector, City Explorer

ARE YOU ON THE BUS?  is a ground-breaking collaboration between some of Belfast’s most inventive arts companies and artists, culminating at the 18th Outburst Queer Arts Festival in November 2024 to bring us the city’s most ambitious and daring queer arts project to date.

Award-winning companies Outburst Arts and Kabosh join forces with PaperxClips in an interactive triptych of happenings, excavating hidden experiences of Belfast’s queer past to imagine our futures.

The project draws inspiration from city transport, time travel, lost histories and cross-generational queer kinship, bringing together some of the most dynamic queer writers and artists in the country, including screenwriter and playwright Stacey Gregg (Ballywalter; Here Before; Scorch), playwright and performer Pea Dineen (Irish Times 50 People to Watch in 2024) and theatre maker Dominic Montague (Callings; Quartered: Belfast A Love Story, A Queer Céilí at the Marty Forsythe).

The project takes its name from the phrase “Are they on the bus?”, a playful euphemism used in Belfast’s 1980s gay and lesbian circles to ask if someone was gay. The title is a perfect launchpad to tell stories centring on queer experience and transportation, whether that’s through time travel, books or what travelling to the city means when you are living in the margins.

Acclaimed theatre company Kabosh presents a centrepiece multimedia play, directed by Paula McFetridge, bringing trans experience of the city to life. Written by hotly tipped trans playwright Pea Dinneen, the show takes its inspiration from Wilma Creith, one of the first openly transgender women in Belfast who was a much-loved bus driver in the 1980s. In honour of Wilma, trans stories are brought to life on board a vintage Ulsterbus, courtesy of our partners, Translink.

Award-winning writer Stacey Gregg connects with the stories of older lesbian women to reimagine journeys to the city centre for the underground community-run discos that were the lifeblood of socialising for queer women in the 1970s and 80s. An innovative audio experience that centres the importance of the city and connection for queer people, it will be accessed digitally as people travel into Belfast on public transport.

Anchored in real queer Belfast moments in time, the project is a catalyst for interconnected creative happenings, performances, and catalytic conversations, our “Bus Stop” being the incredible queer-run bookshop, barbers and creative hub PaperxClips. Currently based in West Belfast, the shop will move to Belfast City Centre, making the hub for workshops, talks and events throughout the project.

From July to November 2024, we’ll invite participants to share stories and travel with us to the past and to the future, with the project’s three elements converging into a singular visionary moment in November, collapsed into infinite possibilities.

Are You on The Bus? is more than an art project. As the journey unfolds, it invites participants to consider not only where we've been but, more importantly, where we’re heading collectively. It will be a profound exploration of who we are and what is needed to truly make Belfast a city of promise and possibility for all.

This project is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund, thanks to National Lottery players and is part of Our Future Heritage portfolio of projects which help us all enjoy and understand Belfast's heritage.

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