Aputheatre ("APU" or "APUT") began life as the Aids Positive Underground Theatre Company. Founded in 1989 at the Sussex Aids Centre in Brighton, England, the objective was to provide a cultural response to HIV and Aids.[1] The company quickly established a reputation for hard-hitting drama very much in the In-yer-face theatre style and a good example of queer theatre.[1] From 1994 onwards, Aputheatre produced work that moved away from being exclusively about HIV-AIDS. Though HIV remained a key subtext in many works, other themes like prostitution, pornography, sexual politics became more important.[2][3]

The company’s first production, Crying Celibate Tears by John Roman Baker, was performed as part of the Brighton Festival Fringe. It was an instant hit with public and critics alike and the company was invited to perform the following year as part of the main Brighton Festival programme. This time the play was The Ice Pick and the company won the Festival Award for Best Theatre.[4] The Los Angeles Times called the play "vivid and compelling".[5]

Several sponsors withdrew funds from the Brighton Festival in protest at the company's inclusion, causing embarrassment within the festival administration and much public outcry.[citation needed] Political controversy often accompanied the company's performances. Politicians in Edinburgh and Forlì, Italy tried to gain votes by calling for theatres' funding to be withdrawn. Printers also refused to print festival brochures. Even with the company's home base, the Sussex Aids Centre, there was great opposition to the company's work which was considered too strong, too gay and which never followed a politically correct line.

Aputheatre became Brighton and Edinburgh Festival regulars. Between 1989 and 1997 their work was in many cities in the UK and internationally in Italy and the United States.

In 1998 Aputheatre’s two founders, John Roman Baker and Rod Evan moved to Amsterdam, where a creative relationship was established with COC Nederland, a Dutch organization for LGBT men and women.[1] The company initially developed four strong plays which explored the sub-culture of prostitution among young East European men living in Amsterdam. The Prostitution Plays'together with a later production Romophobia have charted the evolution and demise of male street prostitution in Amsterdam that has occurred at the beginning of the 21st Century.[1]

With its establishment on the continent in the Netherlands, the company was able to take its work to other European countries, with tours in Italy, Poland and Ukraine.

In 2003, the controversial East Side Skin was performed in Amsterdam and Eindhoven. The play explored the attraction of the far right within gay subculture and was inspired in part by the assassination earlier that year of Dutch Populist politician Pim Fortuyn. A DVD of that production was released early in 2004.

In 2005, the play Romophobia explored the lives of two Romanians living illegally in Amsterdam, against a backdrop of sexual uncertainly and police harassment. The play highlighted the policy of police to raid gay bars on Amsterdam's Paardenstrat and then arrest, incarcerate and deport young men, with no legal representation. During the run of the play, perhaps as a result of publicity generated around the issue, the Police raids stopped.[citation needed]

In 2006 with the production Prisoners of Sex author John Roman Baker and Aputheatre returned to their original theme of HIV-AIDS to explores the complexity and compulsions of unprotected sex among men.[6]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Aputheatre website; retrieved on 2007-11-22
  2. “A significant shift in Aids Theatre” - (Plays and Players May 1990)
  3. Ice Pick Poster; retrieved on 2007-11-22
  4. Ice Pick Poster 1; Retrieved on 2007-11-22
  5. Ice Pick Poster 2; Retrieved on 2007-11-22
  6. Netherlands: Unprotected Acts On Stage; retrieved on 2007-11-22

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