aputheatre - a history

Aputheatre began life as Aids Positive Underground Theatre Company. Founded in 1989 at the Sussex Aids Centre in Brighton, England, our objective was to provide a cultural response to HIV and Aids.

The company’s first production 'Crying Celibate Tears' by John Roman Baker was performed as part of the Brighton Festival Fringe. It was an instant hit with public and critics alike and aputheatre were invited to perform the following year as part of the main Brighton Festival programme. This time the play was The Ice Pick and won the Festival Award for Best Theatre.

“A significant shift in Aids Theatre” - Plays and Players

After that the company’s work was seen in many cities in the UK, including London and Edinburgh and also internationally in Italy and the United States.

In 1997 aputheatre’s two founders, John Roman Baker and Rod Evan moved to Amsterdam, where a highly productive relationship was established with the COC Amsterdam organisation. Initially the company developed four strong plays exploring the sub-culture of prostitution among young East European men living in Amsterdam. The first two of these plays were presented in 1998 - 'Russian Roulette' and 'The Pornographic Wall'. In 1999 aputheatre worked with the municipal health service in Rotterdam to present 'Heroes' a complex love story between two men, one HIV positive, the other not.

Performances of the complete 'Prostitution Plays' were the highpoint of aputheatre’s year in 2000 with highly popular performances in Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Poland.

In December 2001 we performed for the first time in Ukraine with 'Sexually Speaking 1+1', and returned to The Netherlands with a Ukrainian actor to perform in 'The War Fuck'.

'Gay Nazi Shit' was how one dramaturg from Germany described 'East Side Skin', that didn't prevent the play becoming a success in 2003. A DVD of the production was released in 2004.

In 2004 'Things Happen' explored bisexuality and male responses to rape. 'Romophobia' was a response to illegal police raids on Amsterdam Gay bars and the forced deportation of young gay men. As our production in August 2005 began to attract media attention, the raids which had been regular occurances for months suddenly ceased!

The closure to the public in 2005 of the world's oldest Gay and Lesbian cultural centre, COC Amsterdam, posed a serious problem for us. It had been our base in Amsterdam since our arrival in 1997. Attempts to find an alternative venue revealed the limitations and intrinsic homophobia in much of Amsterdam's small-scale theatre scene. A positive new relationship however was established with the centrally located Pleintheater.

The phenomenon of barebacking was the focus of 'Prisoners of Sex' in 2006. The 4 short plays loosely inspired by Arthur Schnitzler's 'Reigen' were popular in the Netherlands and transferred to Rome in an Italian production by Altrarte in 2007.