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Seaweed in the Fruit Locker
Seaweed in the Fruit Locker is a series of performances by an LGBTQIA+ sea shanty choir who were formed by Rhys Morgan to explore collective performance in marginalised communities through the tradition of shanty singing.
Over recent months the choir have used their lived experience to rework existing shanties and inspire new ones, continuing the tradition of these folk songs being adapted time and again through generations. Queer heritage has been embedded in the process of writing these shanties through depictions of queer experience and historic queer locations, as well as the use of the slang language Polari, which was used widely by the queer community in the 20th century and other communities including sailors in the centuries before. The name of the work is also taken from this language; with Seaweed being a term to refer to a sexually available gay sailor and a Fruit Locker being a cabin on a ship housing gay shipmates.
As a queer person who grew up in a rural, coastal village, Rhys has always found shanties (which have their roots as worker songs, performed by ‘burly’ men) inaccessible yet still intriguing. Despite the countless accounts of queerness within sea faring communities, such as the same sex marriages (or matelotage) which were common amongst pirates during the 17th and 18th centuries, and literary accounts (including Moby Dick, Billy Budd & Querelle); the queer community has been largely ignored and hidden. This work seeks to reclaim a space for queer people within this context, through coming together with others to celebrate our identity and proudly present our own shanty songs.
During The British Art Show 9 exhibition in 2022, the choir performed a set of new and updated sea shanties in different venues across Plymouth.
Over the coming months the choir will be performing at a series of events and venues in the South West. A full set of dates will be available here and on social media soon, follow links at the bottom of the page to keep up to date.
To find out more about the project, where the choir might be performing in the future or if you are an LGBTQIA+ person based in the South West and would like to take part in the choir get in touch via the contact page.
Art Week Exeter (with Exeter Phoenix Gallery) - June 17th - 8pm - Transit Shed, Exeter Quayside
Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival - June 18th - 12pm - Falmouth Princess Pavilions
Falmouth International Sea Shanty Festival - June 18th - 3pm - Main Stage, Church Street Carpark, Falmouth
©2023 by Rhys Morgan
Stay blessed and highly favoured.
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