Sunday, April 21, 2019

TYA Thoughts from SF: Theater Youth and Prop 8

Megan Ann, Gillian, Stan, Pam, Joan, Barry, Megan, Daphnie (all fellow board members), many other TYA members, and I attended the 2010 AATE Conference in San Francisco….Here are a few thoughts from the weekend of theater, education, and inspiration….

Wednesday August 4th:  Theater, Youth, and Prop 8

I attended a pre-conference on queer youth theater and one highlight was a wonderful youth theater performance by the Walking Elephant Theater Company: Prop 8 Love Stories.  These teens interviewed 8 couples affected by the legalization of same sex marriage in California and the subsequent voter passed Proposition 8 that made same sex marriage illegal again.  The company then turned the interviews into a docu-drama to perform in a lovely piece.  This company really challenged the audiences’ assumptions about the differences between same sex couples and heterosexual couples by choosing gender blind casting so the boy and girl the audience assumes is playing the straight couple was actually portraying a lesbian couple.  It was inspiring to see these teen actors use theater to explore an issue they are passionate about and try to make a difference in their community.  Seeing these young artists chipped away some of my cynicism about the world by giving me confidence that the younger generation will make this a better community.

Poetically, as soon as the performance ended, the cast announced that the judge had overturned Prop 8.  That evening, a couple of my colleagues from the conference and I had decided to eat dinner in the Castro and timed our arrival right when the march on Castro Street started and ended our dinner when the street party on Castro began.

This beautiful moment also rejuvenated me artistically.  I am currently working my draft for the February production in Omaha of The Misfits about four misfits (including an openly gay 7th grader) fighting to make their school a safe place for kids by eliminating name calling in their middle school.  This production has been challenging for our company to market and produce in a conservative town.  I also have so much invested emotionally and artistically in the production, that I am in a vulnerable and sensitive place as a playwright.  This Wednesday was a delightful day for me helping me connect to other queer and queer friendly artists and the larger queer community and to inspire me to continue my own work in Omaha.

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