No Sweat

Vicky Moran & Reece McMahon

4th Feb 2020 - 29th Feb 2020

Downstairs - Pleasance London

8pm, 6pm, 3:30pm

Suitable for ages 16 and above


Important information:

This show contains heavy haze, nudity and references to drugs.

Welcome to FLEX - our sauna. Here you'll meet Tristan, Alf and Charlie, who will show you the ropes when it comes to survival.

Combining real testimonies, verbatim interview clips and an original score, No Sweat reveals stories from within the world of gay saunas, a common place for young homeless people to seek accommodation.

In a world where stability is a second from slipping through your fingers, austerity combined with prejudice sees young people putting themselves at risk all too often. But how long can they battle against the system?

No Sweat is an examination of friendship, family and the fight for recognition.

Working together with young LGBTQ+ homeless and ex-homeless people in London, Vicky Moran’s new play shines a light on a forgotten generation of homeless youth.

★★★★ "It touches and delights its audience" Voice Magazine UK
★★★★ "A compelling work that is informative and provocative” QX Magazine
★★★★ "There is a pulse and energy to No Sweat that is impeccable" Boyz

Performers: Manish Gandhi, James Haymer & Denholm Spurr

Writer/ Director: Vicky Moran
Associate Writer: Lara Costello
Designer: Alex Berry
Sound Designer: James Ratcliffe
Production Manager/LX: Tanya Stephenson
Assistant Director: Alistair Wilkinson
Movement Director: Temujin Gill
Dramaturg: Sarah Woods
Producer: Reece McMahon, in association with the Pleasance.

No Sweat is supported by the Pleasance, the Cockayne Foundation, Lakeside Theatre, Jerwood Space, NJL Foundation and by using public funding by the National Lottery through Arts Council England.

No Sweat: Pay it Forward

No Sweat has been created in collaboration with members of the LGBTQI+ ex/homeless community and we want these people to see their stories on stage.

No Sweat: Pay it Forward asks you to make a donation today so that those living on the margins of society can feel represented and see their stories reflected on stage, meet new people and benefit from the power of theatre.

Every £15 donated pays for a ticket for a member of the homeless or ex-homeless community, who may otherwise not be able to attend the show. Click here or more information

Post Show Discussions

No Sweat aims to promote awareness around the issues and causes of LGBTQI+ homelessness and act as a call to action. We will be hosting a series of interactive conversations with the audience and an invited panel of ex/homeless members, sector leaders and charity activists to begin discussing the topics raised in the show and how those present can help to make a change.

These discussions will take place directly after the play, and are included as part of the ticket for these performances:
  • Tues 11th Feb - 8pm
  • Tues 18th Feb - 8pm
  • Sat 22nd Feb - 3:30pm
  • Sat 29th Feb - 3:30pm
If you are affected by any of themes in the play and would like to talk to someone, please contact The Outside Project, an LGBTIQ+ community centre and shelter in London: 0207 359 5767 (10am - 1pm)

Large Print Version (pdf)

Open/closeReviews and Quotations

'For 70 minutes we witness a reality that many undergo as director Vicky Moran, the actors and team put faces to stories that for so long have remained invisible. Go and see for yourself'
‘There is a pulse and energy to No Sweat that is impeccable in parts and moving in others...Extremely atmospheric and informative’
4 stars
“Homeless gay men have the small privilege of gay saunas, hookup apps and survival sex work that mean they aren’t out on the streets. But at what cost do they enjoy that privilege? Vicky Moran’s work effectively expresses this complicated politics of being both homeless & LGBT+.”
4 stars


Interview with Writer/Director Vicky Moran

Q: Describe No Sweat in three words.

A: I've always wanted to create theatre that makes a real and positive difference to our society. I was working as Assistant Director/Facilitator at Cardboard Citizens (the UK’s leading theatre company for those who are homeless or ex-homeless) and I was hearing so many stories. Stories about homelessness that shocked and angered me. Stories where I was like ‘why doesn’t anyone know about this?’ But also stories of power, community and strength.

I learnt about so many different narratives and routes into homelessness and realised that a massive part of people’s journeys was how their identity played into it. Particularly for our young people (17-25), many of them were LGBTQI+ and so their experiences, of course, were completely different to many others who weren’t.

Having done a lot of work with LGBTQI+ communities previously - I began researching. I met up with Denholm Spurr (the actor who now plays Tristan in No Sweat) after reading a Buzzfeed article about his experience of sleeping in saunas whilst he was homeless. It amazed me how strong he was having been through all that, and how at the time he didn’t even consider that he was homeless because he wasn’t ‘stereotypical’. Hearing his story sparked that fire for me to create No Sweat. I started to meet up with sauna owners, LGBTQI+ charities and organisations, ex/homeless people with similar experiences, asylum seekers and refugees. I met one guy who fought for 10 years to gain citizenship in the UK because being gay in his own country was punishable by death. He never gave up.

Cardboard Citizens are the UK's leading practitioners of the Theatre of the Oppressed methodology, so I was learning a lot about Forum Theatre. It was standard when running workshops that members would share their personal stories and then we as a group would create a piece of theatre from that and use it as a tool for change. A rehearsal for reality. This inspired me hugely, so with the stories I had already gathered I just started writing. I was desperate to get audiences thinking about those on the margins of our society.

Q: What can audiences expect when they see No Sweat?

A: Expect to be hit in the feels. Of course there are moments of joy, laughter and hope – ultimately it is a play about community and friendship. However, it is also a play that is based off real-life stories - life is tough for all of us and comes with many challenges, even if you were born into families or countries that accept us for who we are. It certainly doesn’t shy away from those challenges and tells stories that perhaps many of the audience could never imagine happening to them.

It is gritty, it is raw, it is political – even some of the team I’m working with to create the show couldn’t believe the stories shared with me that have ultimately ended up in the script. But this is the reality for many people. This play isn’t theatreland, this is the real world presented onstage. So expect the unexpected.

Q: What’s been the hardest part of the process?

A: The beauty of writing a play that is based off interviews and chats with people is you get a truly authentic narrative. But it has been hard. As someone who has navigated through the benefit system myself, it does make you realise just how at risk, especially in today’s society, a lot of us are at becoming homeless. It’s scary. We aren’t taught where to go, what to do, which services are available for us, what rights we have, universal credit etc.

Mental health plays into it massively - we are human and therefore we have vulnerabilities. So, it’s a very sensitive process. A lot of us relate to the themes in the play one way or another, so I’m constantly thinking about how to create safe spaces for everyone, so that we can tackle these issues and explore them most effectively. It’s hard to talk about some things, too. To talk about our experiences that we felt could have nearly killed us. But here we all are, doing it anyway - shouting about our experiences in the hope that someone will listen. To educate. To stop other young LGBTQI+ people going down the same route. We do it for our community, but yes, it is hard.

Q: 24% of homeless youths identify as LGBTQI+ - Why is LGBTQI+ homelessness such an issue now?

A: There just isn’t enough housing. There are hardly any LGBTQI+ shelters in the UK and people don’t feel safe going into normal hostels (if they are lucky enough to be temporarily housed that is). There is transphobia and homophobia in our society and it just isn’t safe. And more than that, people don’t feel safe in their sexuality, and that can be very damaging.

There are just so many LGBTQI+ people experiencing homelessness that even when they do apply for housing, the likelihood is they won’t get housed. So they turn to alternative accommodation and put themselves in potentially risky situations. The people who do get housed into LGBTQI+ housing are those who are priority need and most at risk. Trans, POC that have fled violence from their countries, rough sleepers - and that is rightly what should happen. However, what about the rest? Where do they go?

I think as well, a lot of people don’t even know that they are homeless because they are sofa-surfing, survival sex-working or sleeping anywhere they can find. They don’t feel they are homeless ‘enough’ to seek help and I feel this is what can cause the downwards spiral. So, I guess It’s also education. Knowing where to go to seek help, and knowing that you can.

Q: Why do you think there is not more awareness around the LGBTQI+ homelessness crisis?

A: Because people aren’t telling the stories therefore people don’t know. As a society we group homeless people into one category – we don’t think about the intersectionality's. The things that make up who we are as people: our identity, our personality, our journey.

When you think of a homeless person, you probably think of someone rough sleeping on the street with a Starbucks cup or a cardboard sign. Maybe someone coming onto the tube asking for some change. I feel like a lot of people care about homelessness, or at least are starting to, which is great. But people’s definitions are a little wrong - it’s not just about rough sleeping. There are so many different forms of homelessness.

I wanted to shine a light on the hidden aspect of this messed up housing situation and let people into a different aspect of the LGBTQI+ narrative – which more often than not is glamourised.

Q: How can I get involved in improving the crisis?

A: When you are in LGBTQI+ spaces, be mindful and have conversations with people. You might be surprised just how many people have been in similar situations. You can donate money to LGBTQI+ shelters (like The Outside Project) to help them provide more housing. You can write a letter to your local council. You can see No Sweat, bring a friend or pay it forward for a ticket for someone who might not be able to afford to see the show. Come to one of our post-show events to hear more about the LGBTQI+ homelessness crisis. You can tweet with hashtag #nosweatplay to keep the conversation going and tell family/friends to come watch the show and educate themselves. We will also be posting steps of things you can do to take action on our twitter – @NoSweatPlay

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