Philadelphia's Queer Connections Reading Series

Philadelphia, PA - Inis Nua Theatre Company announces the Queer Connections Reading Series launch, featuring three moving stories that focus on life, love and competition. The series begins with a reading of Love Song to Lavender Menace by Scottish playwright James Ley, directed by David Bardeen, on Monday, November 14, 2022 at 7:00pm, at the Proscenium Theatre at the Drake (302 South Hicks Street).

This touching play centers on the final night of the beloved Edinburgh Lesbian and Gay bookstore, The Lavender Menace, before it closes. Through two soon-to-be-ex employees, the audience will celebrate and examine life in Edinburgh in the stolid 1980’s. For the reading of Lavender Menace, Inis Nua will partner with Philly AIDS Thrift @ Giovanni’s Room, an LGBTQ-focused bookstore in Philadelphia, the oldest and longest running gay and lesbian bookstore in the US, encouraging attendees to shop and donate to Giovanni’s Room. Tickets for the reading are free but reservations are recommended. For more information and to reserve seating, visit

"Inis Nua's new Queer Connections Reading Series offers us a chance across the season to immerse our audiences in focused themes we believe to be timely and essential," said Inis Nua's new Artistic Director KC MacMillan. "This year’s Queer Connections theme include stories of queer struggle, yes, but also, importantly, stories of queer JOY. We are excited to share in these conversations with our community.”  

MacMillan added, "As with our season as a whole, the Reading Series gives Philadelphia audiences a chance to examine important local themes from a global perspective. The plays of Ireland, England, Scotland, and Wales frequently speak to universal concerns in intimate, human ways."

For the 2022-2023 reading series, Inis Nua has selected three plays that focus on contemporary queer stories from the British Isles—Ireland, Scotland, England, and Wales. It is particularly important to explore LGBTQI+ stories right now, given the political and social climate today in the US and abroad, where conservative views are threatening civil liberties and there has been an increase in violence against LGBTQI+ people.

For the start of the series, audiences are invited to Love Song to Lavender Menace, directed by celebrated local actor Dave Bardeen, and featuring performers Brennen Savon Malone, Max Gallagher, and Kirk Wendell Brown. The series is produced by Adrena Williams and Inis Nua's dramaturg, Kate Fischer, joins the team as part of a partnership with Villanova University’s Masters in Theatre program. Series Producers are Ed and Pat Coyle, Steven Peitzman, Sonya Peterson & John Samas, Lynn Schwartz, and Nick Seymour. The Series Sponsor is Thomas Jefferson University.

"Love Song to Lavender Menace is an homage to Edinburgh’s first radical, feminist, and LGBT bookshop on its last night of existence, in 1987," said Director David Bardeen. "It’s a queer romcom tour de force with books, time travel, and disco. What’s not to love? But for me, it’s about the spaces we as a Queer Community feel safe in and how conservative politics, gentrification, and other factors are trying to make those spaces smaller and smaller. Do we lose our identity and sense of community when the spaces we created to feel safe, the bars and clubs, coffee shops and gyms, bathhouses and bookstores and community centers disappear?”

Playwright James Ley has been called “One of Scotland’s most exciting, early-career writers” from Exeunt Magazine. Ley is currently working on projects for Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Ambassador Theatre Group, Perth Theatre and the Scottish Film Talent Network.

Following Love Song to Lavender Menace, Inis Nua presents Irish play How to Keep an Alien by Sonya Kelly, directed by Charlotte Northeast, and presented on March 13, 2023. Based on the playwright’s own experiences, a woman navigates her heart and immigration services in an effort to find her true calling and bring the love of her life across the border. 


Hilariously funny and unsparing, this play examines the barriers of bureaucracy and the arbitrary nature of borders. Although the play takes a lighthearted approach to the subject of “aliens,” immigration and border control are serious issues that have life-altering effects on people’s lives. The issues of immigration policy and border controls have been divisive issues in the US, which makes this play profoundly relevant. We are exploring some options for an immigration services organization that we could partner with for this reading.

Inis Nua will close the season on May 15, 2023 with the third reading, Offside by Sabrina Mahfouz and Hollie McNish, directed by Brett Ashley Robinson. Lyrical and unafraid to play with dramatic form, this play dives into the world of competitive women’s soccer, and just what players must confront to become champions. And in a sports city such as Philly with its notoriously passionate sports fans, there’s nothing they love more than champions.

Each reading includes post-show discussions with cast, director, and dramaturg. Inis Nua partners with Villanova University’s Masters in Theatre program to pair student dramaturgs with the professional artists who are rehearsing the readings in our series.

All readings will be at 7:00pm and take place at the Proscenium Theatre at the Drake (302 South Hicks Street).  Tickets for the reading are free but reservations are recommended. For more information and to reserve seating, visit

ABOUT THE ARTISTS About the artists

David Bardeen (director) directed the Lantern Theatre's Shakespeare NOW reading of Henry IV, Part 2 in the spring of 2020 and was the Associate Director of their production of Othello, cut short by Covid-19, as well as the Assistant Director for Measure for Measure and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui. As an actor, David has received seven Barrymore nominations and is a graduate of the Yale School of Drama. Thanks Charlotte, KC, Adrena, and Nick.

Brennen Savon Malone (Glen) Regional: Rent (New Light Theatre); Spring Awakening (Milton Theatre); Big Fish (Candlelight Theatre); Wine in the Wilderness (Ego Po Theater); Emperor of the Moon (Braving The Bard); Citizen: An American Lyric (New Light Theatre); He also originated the role of Juicy in James Ijames' Pulitzer Prize Winning Fat Ham. Education: BA in Theatre and Rhetoric from Bates College. Brennen would like to give thanks to and love to their family: chosen and birth. For media updates, follow me on Instagram @brennensavon

Max Gallagher (Lewis) is an interdisciplinary artist and mathematician. They are completing their undergraduate studies at Drexel University, where they have performed in many productions, cabarets, and events. Past work includes People’s Light (dramaturgy intern) and Mantua Theatre Project (teaching artist).

Kirk Wendell Brown (The Guest) is delighted to contribute to this Inis Nua project.  Kirk has appeared on numerous Philadelphia area stages.  Recently Lantern Theater’s (coincidental) streamed production of “Plague,” Measure For Measure, Hapgood, Coriolanus, As You Like It and The Train Driver.  He performed as Shylock in DelShakes’ The Merchant of Venice. Other productions include Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival (Love’s Labour’s Lost, Henry V), Arden Theatre Company (Henry V), and People’s Light (As You Like It); contemporary works at Walnut Street Theatre, InterAct Theatre, The Wilma Theater, and more. He has produced and instructed theater curricula from Lawrenceville, NJ to St. Denis, France.  Theater training includes Boston University College of Fine Arts and Royal Academy of Dramatic Art/King’s College-London (Text & Performance).

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