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Criminal Queerness Festival June 2024 at PAC NYC

Celebrate Pride Month, resistance, and love with National Queer Theater’s Criminal Queerness Festival. Across the globe, queer artists risk censorship, imprisonment, and violence for simply sharing their truth. Since 2019, the Criminal Queerness Festival has produced playwrights from Syria, Venezuela, Uganda, Kenya, Iraq, China, Pakistan, Tanzania, Egypt, Mexico, India, Lebanon, Poland and the Ukraine.

After three successful years at Lincoln Center, we are moving to the Perelman Performing Arts Center for two full weeks of shows. We are so thrilled to be bringing this work to a broader audience, and also increasing our run from three days to two weeks.


We are so excited to be a part of PAC NYC’s new history by being part of their inaugural season of programming. At National Queer Theater, amplifying marginalized queer voices is one of our most important missions. We’ve been embodying this commitment since our founding five years ago, and the Criminal Queerness Festival has been one of our most important events. In countries where queerness is criminalized, suppressed, or censored, creating queer art can be a precarious act. We strive to create the space for queer artists to actualise their art with safety, empowerment, and love.

What's Playing?

The Survival


Written by Achiro P. Olwoch

Achan, feeling pressure from her mother for not yet being married at 27, falls for Oyat after meeting him at a bar. Unbeknownst to Achan, Oyat is hoping she will be a surrogate for him and his boyfriend’s child. When Achan learns the truth from Oyat’s boyfriend, John, she must confront her own traditional upbringing to find love and new notions of family in modern Uganda.

Originally developed at the 2022 Criminal Queerness Festival at Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts.

She He Me

Screenshot 2023-09-17 at 11.11.28 AM.png

Written by Raphaël Amahl Khouri

She He Me is the first Arab transgender play. It follows the true stories of three Arab characters who challenge gender norms. Randa is an Algerian transwoman who is expelled under the threat of death from her homeland because of her LGBT activism there. Omar is a Jordanian gay man, who, rather than body dysphoria, suffers social dysphoria when it comes to the strict codes of masculinity imposed and expected of him by both the heterosexual and gay community around him. Rok is a Lebanese transman. His main challenge is convincing his very conservative religious mother that her daughter is actually a boy. Through humor and horror, the three characters come up against the state, society, and family, but also themselves.

Originally developed for the 2020 Criminal Queerness Festival with Dixon Place. Photo courtesy of Kosmos Theater in Vienna.

Waafrika 123: A Queerly Scripted Tragic Rise to African Fantasia

Waafrika 123 by Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko (PC_ Sean Velasco Dodge) Feat. Karen Eilbacher (L) an

Written by Nick Hadikwa Mwaluko

On the eve of the country’s first democratic elections, everyone is brewing with expression, even in the tiny, rural village, Luoland, with no electricity or running water some 250 kilometers northwest of Nairobi. There, although lesbians ‘don’t exist’ in Kenya, two women fall in love: Bobby, an American development worker and Awino from the Luo tribe. To complicate matters, Awino’s father is also the Chief who enforces traditions and codes. So when famine strikes, the villagers blame the lesbians for the many, many deaths by starvation. To regain equilibrium, to make everything “normal” once again, Awino – butch bordering on trans – must be “circumcised” – by force – so s/he can act like a real woman rather than a woman “who wants to be” a man, and Bobby must leave. Will Awino and Bobby agree to separate for the good of their community? Or will the village itself change?

Originally developed at the 2019 Criminal Queerness Festival at IRT Theater.

Come back later...

Tickets on sale March 5, 2024.

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