Plays, Poems & New Writing Photo story

Celebrating queerness on our stages

  This LGBTQ+ History Month, we’re taking a look back at some of the queer plays, characters, writers and events we’ve had the pleasure of performing and hosting in our theatres

2 minute read

Shakespeare is for all, and here at Shakespeare’s Globe, we’re proudly ensuring that remains so. We’re here to discover Shakespeare’s works – and that of other writers then and now – in all contexts. That’s how we’ll ensure the Bard remains popular and relevant for the next 400 years to come. This February we’re supporting LGBTQ+ History Month in a variety of ways, and first we’d like to take a look back and celebrate the queerness in our past work…

A male actors rests his head against the back of another male actor.

Beru Tessema as Gaveston and Tom Stuart as Edward II in Christopher Marlowe’s Edward II, as part of our 2018/19 Winter Season in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse. Photographer: Marc Brenner.

‘It feels important to see how far we’ve come since Edward II’s circumstances, and also Marlowe’s as well. When I think about the play, I feel like I’m in a direct line, starting with Edward II, the real guy, the real man, and then followed by Marlowe – what he was going through and what it took for him to have the courage to write his play during that time’

— Tom Stuart

Full company of I, Joan at Shakespeare's Globe

In 2022, Shakespeare’s Globe presented a new play, I, Joan by Charlie Josephine. In this production, legendary leader Joan used the pronouns ‘they/them’. Photographer: Helen Murray


‘Genuinely revolutionary…simmers with queer rebellion. Isobel Thom makes a staggering debut as Joan.’


We’ve welcomed The Fourth Choir, London’s LGBT + chamber choir, to our theatres many times over the past few years, including their Love is Love concert as part of our 2018/19 Winter Season in the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse…

A group of people wearing festive hats, scarfs and knit wear, stand together singing carols.

…and for festive carols in Sandi Toksvig’s Christmas at the (Snow) Globe in the Globe Theatre (2019). Photographer: Tristam Kenton

The Company in Tom Stuart’s After Edward (2019) written in response to Marlowe’s Edward II. Photographer: Marc Brenner.

‘Incredible scenes @The_Globe tonight – dancing and singing in the foyer #AfterEdward. Adored this heartfelt, joyous and moving play’

#AfterEdward @The_Globe tonight: what a pocket of joy; glittery tears & LGBTQ+ legacy’

‘Standing ovation last night for #AfterEdward @The_Globe and rightly so. Tom Stuart has crafted a funny, weird, tender and joyous bit of theatre’

A man with a large black afro and gold sequinned dress, stands posing on stage.

Le Gateau Chocolat as Feste in Emma Rice’s 2017 Twelfth Night. Photographer: Hugo Glendinning.

A group of actors pose on stage together, holding rainbow coloured flags.

‘We are family…’ The Company celebrate Pride 2017 with Sister Sledge’s iconic song in Emma Rice’s Twelfth Night.


‘Le Gateau Chocolat’s Feste, of course, dazzles in a gold-glitter gown’


A drag artist wearing black doublet and hose, and holding a skull, stands in the candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

In March 2019, a group of women and non-binary people from Through the Door took over our Sam Wanamaker Playhouse for Moll and the Future Kings, a mix of drag, impro and good-humoured chaos in the spirit of Jacobean London’s Moll Cutpurse. Photographer: Anna Crisp.

A performer wearing a brightly coloured dress and white wigged head piece.

In 2014, we welcomed Alternative Miss World, a fancy dress contest inspired by Crufts and established by Andrew Logan in 1972.

A performer in an elaborate black and white check costume.

Alternative Miss World returned in 2018, with the theme Psychedelic Peace, and most recently in 2022 for its golden anniversary. Photographer: Holly Revell

Two performers wearing brightly coloured dresses.

Alternative Miss World (2018). Photographer: Holly Revell

A woman stands centre staged of the candlelit Sam Wanamaker Playhouse, reading from a folder.

In the autumn of 2019, we marked the centenary of two political milestones in the fight for gender equality with readings of two of Virginia Woolf’s seminal works: A Room of One’s Own, performed by Hattie Morahan (pictured)….

A woman in a brightly coloured red patterned robe looks up to the ceiling of the Sam Wanamaker Playhouse.

… and Three Guineas performed by Joan Iyiola. Photographer: Helen Murray

Two men lean their foreheads against each other's, smiling.

In Emma Rice’s 2016 A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the character of Helena swapped gender, creating a gay relationship between Demetrius (Ncuti Gatwa) and Helenus (Ankur Bahl). Photographer: Steve Tanner.

‘We both have goosebumps and silent tears at the tragedy and hope of this love. It’s accurate to the coming out stories of so many of the people we hold dear’

— Ankur Bahl

The object and the pleasure of mine eye,
Is only Helenus. To [him], my lord,
Was I betrothed ere I saw Hermia;
But like a sickness did I loathe this food.
But, as in health come to my natural taste

— A Midsummer Night’s Dream

A woman in a blue suit holds her arms out and snow is falling

Our online film of Sandi Tokvig’s Christmas at the (Snow) Globe, created during the Covid-19 pandemic, was a celebration of love.

A man in drag, wearing a blue sequinned dress, watches glitter fall from the sky around him.