Tuesday, October 02, 2012

Is Your Theater Not Gay Enough? - Theater For a Month Before Election Day

If you just want to see the list of theater offerings you should consider seeing the rest of this week and in the weeks to come, skip down to the line of asterisks.  If you want to know the reasons behind my suggestions, read on...

It's strange how sanguine I'm feeling about the whole marriage amendment nonsense.  Not confident, not by any means.  Just ready.  There's going to be a vote.  It's coming. What are we doing in the meantime?

Part of the reason, of course, is that gay marriage is already illegal and unrecognized in Minnesota so… it's not like if we manage to vote the amendment down, gay marriage will suddenly become legal, or we'll recognize the gay marriages from other states.  We already have laws on the books.  They won't change.  There will still be 515-plus laws in Minnesota that treat gay and lesbian couples and their families different from other families.  There will still be over 1,100 laws and benefits that married couples have access to from the federal government that will be out of reach of lesbian and gay people in committed relationships. 

If the amendment passes, we get all this ridiculata inscribed in the state constitution, which will of course make it harder to undo, which is the point.  Laws can be overturned by courts or the legislature.  To undo an amendment to the constitution, we'd need to do this whole thing again in the opposite direction.  I need to do more research because some people have even told me there would be a waiting period to hold a vote to remove the amendment, if such a campaign were launched.  Someone also told me the vote to undo would need to clear a higher threshold than 51 percent of the vote.  (Feel free to correct me, I'd love those two data points to be wrong.)  Whatever way you look at it, the whole thing just calcifies if we put it in the state constitution, whether for a little or a long while.

Polls show the whole thing is really close, the people evenly split.  Tensions run high, opposing opinions are bandied about in public with regularity, from letters to the editor to blogs to lawn signs.

Theater probably needs to take the credit (or blame) for me not freaking out more.  Currently I have things I can do.  I scripted a touring production for Project 515 that traveled around the state this spring, trying to put a human face on the issue of those 515 Minnesota laws.  Right now, we're in the home stretch of rehearsals of my play But Not For Love, which The Flower Shop Project and Workhouse Theatre teamed up to co-produce.  There's characters in this play on both sides of the issue and they do battle it out, but at least everyone is talking to one another.  There's a double wedding and the possibility of a third romance blossoming.  Laughter and a happy ending.  My mom's even flying in for the second weekend to see the show.  Director Richard Jackson and our cast are so committed to telling this story, to digging into every little word of the text and mining out new information on the characters and plot that it's breathtaking to watch sometimes.

But there's so much theater going on right now dealing with this subject, I feel incredibly blessed to be in the middle of it all.

Unfortunately I've already missed Freshwater Theater's compendium of short works around the subject, Better (or) Worse, which was on stage last month.

But coming right up there are all kinds of offerings.  Just follow the links...


I've missed the opening performance of the latest offering from Thirst Theater, the No Round, but there are two more chances - Monday, October 8 and 15.

Tomorrow, Wednesday, October 3rd, there's the Amend This cabaret coordinated by Box Wine Theatre at the Southern Theater.  There's a little bit of comedy scripted by me that Box Wine co-founder and executive director Adam Sharp is performing alongside Kyler Chase, directed by co-founder and artistic director Bethany Simmons (phew, my little sketch is in very good hands).  In addition there's work on tap from, among others, Bedlam Theatre, Silver Slipper Productions, Table Salt Productions, improv duo Ferrari McSpeedy, comedian Ben San Del and storyteller Phillip Andrew Bennet LowTickets here.

Also tomorrow (10/3), John Munger and Third Rabbit Dance offers another edition of their monthly dance showcase The Rabbit Show at the Bryant Lake Bowl.  This month, women dancing with women, and men dancing with men in "Same Sex Duets."

Also continuing its run tomorrow (10/3) is Theatre Unbound's The Good Fight, a world premiere production of Anne Bertram's latest play, about suffragettes who learn jujitsu in order to defend themselves in the fight for the right to vote.  That plays at the Lowry Lab through October 14th. 

Related on the subject of voting - Appomattox at the Guthrie, spending Act One at the end of the Civil War in 1865, Act Two in the thick of the voting rights fight in 1965.  Harry Groener in particular kicks butt as both Lincoln and LBJ, and Shawn Hamilton is positively spooky as Martin Luther King, Jr.  Considering all the voter ID aka voter suppression aka "voter fraud" nonsense also going on this political season, recommended viewing.

Fringe favorites Shanan Custer and Carolyn Pool of 2 Sugars Room for Cream fame are offering their talents to a fundraiser at the Ritz on Thursday, October 4th - 10 Reasons To Go, 1 Reason To Give.  (And 2 Sugars runs again from October 11 to November 11 in New Century Theater in the Hennepin Theatre District in downtown Minneapolis.)

Next week, October 6 and 7, Bedlam Theatre is offering Making Amends - some theater and some useful information if you want to get out there and do something in the weeks that remain.

The Illusion Theater is offering their own compendium of marriage-related shorts called Love and Marriage, running October 10 to October 27.

Then my own play But Not For Love hits the stage at the Warren, Workhouse Theatre's home base, from October 12 to 28.

BOOM! Theater also weighs in on the subject with Gemma Irish's new play Engaged, at the Cedar Riverside People's Center, October 19 to 27.

And to throw a little more politic theater on the pile, there's also Gadfly Theatre's production of Mitzi's Abortion: A Saint's Guide to Late Term Politics and Medicine in America (following The Good Fight's run) at the Lowry Lab, October 19 to 28.

Is it any wonder I'm not pulling my hair out, fretting as I wait for November 6th to arrive?  There's too much to do.  So much to see.

And each offering is like a steady drum beat saying, "Vote, Vote, Vote, Vote, Vote…"

There's also something else I'm hearing, "You are not alone."

Which is a nice thing to feel in an uncertain time.

See some theater.  Lend what aid you can to a good cause.  Talk to your friends and family.  Get out there and vote.

And thanks, my extended theater family, for being as invested in this issue as you are.

Regardless of the outcome, the support is appreciated.

(Photo by Mark Webb, Workhouse Theatre - left to right, Paul Rutledge, Jen Rand, Erica Fields, Jeremiah Stich, Foster Johns)

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