Skip to content

PHM’s Playwright in Residence to Debut Peter Tatchell Play

New Stephen M Hornby work focusing on the infamous Bermondsey by-election to be performed during LGBT History Month 2019

People’s History Museum (PHM) has appointed award winning Manchester writer Stephen M Hornby to be a Playwright in Residence in a project supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) through the North Weston Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP).  Stephen will be using the residency to research and write a new play based on the life of revered human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell.

The rehearsed reading of the new play will premiere at PHM on Sunday 10 February 2019 as part of OUTing the Past, the national festival for LGBT+ history, and the museum’s 2019 programme, which is dedicated to exploring the past, present and future of protest.
Of particular focus in the play will be the controversial 1983 Bermondsey by-election, for which Tatchell stood as the Labour Party’s parliamentary candidate.  The resultant campaign has gone down in political history, notably for the homophobic abuse received by Tatchell and the way in which the by-election was reported upon.  The subsequent win by the Liberal Party remains the largest by-election swing ever recorded in the UK.
Stephen’s work has begun with a detailed study of the Labour Party archives, the complete holdings of which are held at PHM, which also holds the personal papers of Tatchell, and those of Michael Foot, leader of the Labour Party at the time of the by-election.  Stephen has also been carrying out a series of extensive interviews with Tatchell in person.
Stephen M Hornby, Playwright in Residence at People’s History Museum, comments, “It’s been an amazing opportunity to have access not just to the original Labour Party papers on the Bermondsey by-election, but also to Peter.  He’s been so generous in giving me his time and some fresh revelations about this episode in his life.  I was genuinely stunned by some of the things that Peter has told me and that I’ve discovered.   I think we’re ready now to reassess the politics of the early 1980s, to fully acknowledge the vile homophobia that was present in some parts of the Labour Party then for the first time, and to learn some fresh lessons that are relevant to the Labour Party of today, and in politics more generally.”

Peter Tatchell, best known for his work with LGBT+ social movements, will be in attendance at this first rehearsed reading of the one act play taking place at PHM on Sunday 10 February 2019 at 3.00pm. Following the reading there will be a Q & A with Peter Tatchell, facilitated by LGBT activist and historian, Paul Fairweather.
Jenny Mabbott, Head of Collections & Engagement at People’s History Museum, comments, “Stephen’s work demonstrates the opportunity that history gives for learning, progression and reflection.  Peter Tatchell’s story is a fascinating and shocking one that should be forever remembered, and we are delighted that through Stephen’s fresh and original research it will be told at the home of ideas worth fighting for.”
Stephen M Hornby’s plays shine new light on LGBT+ stories from history for modern audiences.  Stephen was previously one of the Community Curators for the award winning 2017 exhibition Never Going Underground: The Fight for LGBT+ Rights at PHM, which marked the 50th anniversary of the partial decriminalisation of homosexual acts in Britain.  A current PhD student, his residency and the performance of the new play have been supported by The University of Salford as part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded North West Consortium Doctoral Training Partnership (NWCDTP).  Stephen will be blogging about his experiences of being Playwright in Residence at People’s History Museum, which can be followed at
The residency is part of PHM’s 2019 programme of activity that centres on the theme of protest; a highlight of which will be the museum’s headline exhibition Disrupt? Peterloo & Protest, which opens on Saturday 23 March 2019.  The exhibition commemorates the 200th anniversary of the Peterloo Massacre in Manchester and will feature objects from the museum’s unique collection, including original Peterloo artefacts. Alongside the exhibition a gallery will become a Protest Lab, for individuals, communities and organisations to use as an experimental space for creative campaigning and collective action.
Peter Tatchell is one of People’s History Museum’s 100 Radicals.  This membership scheme celebrates the people whose ideas have shaped our society, giving the opportunity for individuals or organisations to sponsor the Radical thinker of their choice to raise funds to support the national museum of democracy’s historical collections, exhibitions and Learning Programme.
People’s History Museum is open seven days a week from 10.00am to 5.00pm, and is free to enter with a suggested donation of £5.  Radical Lates are the second Thursday each month, 10.00am to 8.00pm.  To find out about visiting, its events programme and for more information about becoming a Radical sponsor, visit