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Vince Laws is writing A Very Queer Faust! / 28 February 2011

I haven’t blogged for ages and here’s the reason why: I’m in the process of writing A Very Queer Faust!

Yesterday we recorded the first 10 minutes, today that was edited and sound effects added. First broadcast on Sunday 27 February 5-6pm, as part of Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Trans History Month, it is now available via podcast at The podcast begins with a children's story.... then me interviewed by Kate Roma... then 10 minutes of A Very Queer Faust.

In my play, John Faust, is an HIV+ depressed queer conceptual poet, driven to despair by poverty – well they say write about what you know! Faust is on a beach at sunset, filling his pockets with stones so he can walk into the sea and end it all, when Diabolos himself appears, and after much reluctance Faust bargains away his soul in return for perfect health, the chance to double all benefits, a best selling book, a chat with the Pope, and a quick death.

I’ve been drafting and re-drafting and getting closer and closer to the finished play. I’m not there yet but I will be by early May when I go on an Arvon theatre writing course with some of the best people in the business. I hope that will give the play its final polish.

Meanwhile, I’m in a precarious position myself financially. I’ve been on benefit, due to lack of energy and depression, but I am feeling better and I am trying to make a living for myself as a poet and artist. I am absolutely certain that my mental health is vastly improved and strengthened by my choice of career, and so I have no intention of stopping that.

However, after a year of ‘permitted work’ in which I’ve made a loss of £1,600, (i.e. I’ve subsidised my benefit with my credit card so I can attend courses, network, perform, campaign, volunteer, build a website, pay a book keeper) I will only be allowed to earn £20 a week on top of my benefit, or get a job.

The current government is keen to say there is support for people who want to get off benefit. I am in the throws of finding out if that is true or simply empty words. I’ve been asked to lead creativity workshops with adult literacy groups, something I’m sure that I’ll enjoy, but that would bring me in more that £20 per week. Should I cancel them, work unpaid, or take the money and hope my expenses keep my earnings below the threshold?

Of such dilemmas are drama made!