When up-and-coming DJ Michael steers stage electrics student Joseph through the gay disco scene of early 1980s London, the new best friends reckon they can do way better than anything they come across.
So they set up an underground party where revellers can escape the racism, hardship and homophobia that still stalk the city’s streets. And it looks like they’re going to conquer the world – until ambition, addiction and the dawning onslaught of AIDS threaten to tear them apart.
Initially developed as part of the Albany’s Hatched programme of new writing and supported by Arts Council England, We Raise Our Hands in the Sanctuary premiered at the Albany in February 2017, celebrating the crucial importance of queer spaces and the power of gay friendship at a time when rampant gentrification is sweeping away LGBTQ+ pubs, bars and clubs.
|Dancers||Jordan Ajadi, Shawn Willis|
|Directors||Daniel Fulvio & Martin Moriarty|
|Lighting design||Marty Langthorne|
|Assistant director||Vicky Olusanya|
|Costume maker||Vanessa Pasini|
|Costume assistant||Michael Douglas|
|Production and stage manager||Grace Lewis|
|Poster and flyer design||The Design Mill|
|General manager||Peter Huntley|
FOR THE ALBANY
|Creative Programmes Team||Raidene Carter & Rhiannon Wilkins|
|Head of Production||Ben Stephen|
|Head of Marketing||Kate Farrell|
We Raise Our Hands In The Sanctuary [is] a vibrant exploration of nightclub culture in the 1980s. The play moves from the heady days at the start of the decade when black working class music entered the mainstream to the horrors at the end when Aids wiped out many of the scene’s most dynamic figures. It focuses on Michael (Jahvel Hall), an aspirant DJ, and Joseph (Oseloka Obi), a student electrician, as they venture into clubland, represented by Paul (Dean Graham), a predatory promoter, and Brandi (Carl Mullaney), a drag artiste, or, as he terms it, “lip-synching post-structuralist” … The play makes an eloquent plea for communal solidarity in these socially divided, culturally divisive times.
Michael Arditti, Sunday Express
Daniel Fulvio and Martin Moriarty’s We Raise Our Hands in the Sanctuary has emerged from Hatched, the Albany’s artist support and development programme. It’s an impassioned look at black gay culture and the music venues that were the cathedrals of an LGBT generation … Fulvio and Moriarty have turned a spotlight on an important step in the evolution of the British LGBT scene – and the contribution made by black gay people – that is sorely under represented on stage. At its best, it’s a moving tribute to an era.
Tom Wicker, The Stage
Dedicated to ‘all the DJs who have helped our community find liberation on the dancefloor’ theatre group Inky Cloak’s We Raise Our Hands In The Sanctuary is a powerful show, soundtracked by the era’s classic bangers, that explores what happens when two black gay friends decide to start their own clubnight in London’s East End. The play resonates particularly strongly today, an era where queer spaces are disappearing and disappearing fast.
Joe Heaney, Dazed Digital
Writer / director / producer team Daniel Fulvio and Martin Moriarty’s love for the era, and the subject, and the depth of their research is unquestionable, their incorporation of extended dance sequences (fiercely choreographed by Mina Aidoo and ferociously performed by Jordan Ajadi and Shawn Willis) perfectly evoking the changing trends of the age, alongside a detailed script covering the contrasting shifts in gay subculture across different parts of London …. We Raise Our Hands remains a fascinating, multi-disciplinary work of real interest, a real tribute to the invaluable black gay contribution to the evolution of dance music and an acknowledgement of the importance of the very queer spaces that are increasingly under threat in London today.
Ian Foster, There Ought To Be Clowns
Daniel Fulvio and Martin Moriarty (Inky Cloak) together with choreographer Mina Aidoo have succeeded in producing text and choreography that complement each other. Both possess an easy naturalness, accessibility and fluidity which is also facilitated by the cross- shaped stage and multiple performance spaces. Language is down-to-earth and subject matter is neither sensationalized nor over sentimentalised, while the characters are realistic. … Dancers Jordan Ajadi and Shawn Willis provide the physical depiction of black, gay sexuality. Their seamless morphing of a variety of dance styles from the day, contemporary dance, voguing, disco ballroom and aerobics display incredible aptitude and versatility. While they are projected, sometimes reductively as explicit bodies to be consumed, they drive the show with their effortless and unashamed eroticism. Aidoo prevents the choreography from becoming too commercial or stereotypical through her blending of athletic dance steps, unusual postures and lifts. … We Raise Our Hands In The Sanctuary celebrates and revitalises an incredible time but while it reminds us about how far the LGBT community has come, it also warns us about the serious threats to its continuity and development.
Josephine Leask, London Dance
Main image: Shawn Addison (left) and Jordan Ajadi (dancers), We Raise Our Hands in the Sanctuary, February 2017, by Leon Csernohlavek