Saturday, March 2, 2013

BRIEFS: A Festival of Short LGBT Plays • La Perla

That Uppity Theatre Company, along with the folks at The Vital VOICE are back with the 2nd Annual installment of Briefs: A Festival of Short LGBT Plays.  The plays featured this year (and in the interest of full-disclosure, I was on the reading committee) are better than last years', covering a range of LGBT-related topics that nicely integrate these issues within the backdrop of everyday life, as opposed to beating you over the head with it "public service announcement" style.  There are comedies, dramas, and something for everyone -- gay or straight.

Black Eye
Jenn Bock (Ms. Marshall) and Hannah Ryan (Amanda).
Black Eye begins with Amanda (Hannah Ryan), a young school girl who finds herself in her school principal's office for fighting.  Her gym teacher (Jenn Bock) and principal (Joshua Thomas) suspect why the kids always pick on her, but they end up talking about their own lives growing up gay, and the consequences of fighting back.

My Jesus Year features a brother and sister, Jerry (Charlie Barron) and Trish (Laura Singleton).  Jerry's gay, and he's in the hospital about to have a colonoscopy.  An old acquaintance of Jerry's happens to be down the hall from him, unfortunately not doing well, and during the course of the play, we find out how Jerry knew him.

Waiting for the Skell
Robert Lee Davis III (Jimmy) and Wendy Renée Greenwood (Dale).
Waiting for the Skell involves a pair of cops on a stakeout.  While Jimmy (Robert Lee Davis III) passes the time eating tacos, his long-time partner Dale (Wendy Renée Greenwood) surveys the house through her binoculars, and eventually breaks the news that she and her partner are going to have a baby, and she will be the one who carries it.  Jimmy is initially not crazy about the idea because he doesn't want to be paired up with another officer, but he comes around when Dale's situation is put in the proper perspective.

The Lady and the Tramp:  A Love Story was a surprising addition to the night featuring Lola van Ella and Sammy Tramp in a sweet little "boy meets girl" story.

Are You Married?
Cammie Middleton-Helmsing (Nurse)
and Theresa Masters (Sharon).
Are You Married? finds Sharon (Theresa Masters) in a doctors office, facing the possibility of breast cancer.  In the all too familiar process of plodding through the forms and answering questions asked by her nurse (Cammie Middleton-Helmsing) the question Sharon had dreaded comes up -- "Are you married?".  This play spotlights the inequalities often faced by gay and lesbian couples anytime they walk into a hospital, but it also addresses the healthcare professionals on the other side.  In asides to the audience, the nurse tells us that she knows Sharon is gay, but just wants to do her job and do right by Sharon, the same way she wants to do right by anyone who walks into her office.

Surprise is about a couple, David and Jonathan (Ken Haller and Daniel John Kelly), trying to put their relationship back together after an affair.  It's pretty straightforward, but shows that infidelity in any relationship poses the same issues -- gay or straight.

Zoo Story 2.0
Phil C. Leveling (Bob)
and Justin Ivan Brown (Buttercup).
Zoo Story 2.0 takes a clever look at the "reparative therapy for gays" craze, but through the eyes of a couple of gay penguins, Bob and Buttercup (Phil C. Leveling and Justin Ivan Brown) who live in Central Park.  Penguins (and other animal species), have been documented to engage in homosexual behavior as early as 1911, and in this last play of the night, we see shocked zoogoers who are appalled at the idea of gay penguins, and the ensuing hilarity as Buttercup undergoes reparative therapy as a variety of female penguins are thrown at him in an attempt to stifle his sexuality.

The performances in these plays are strong across the board and while they're short, the relationships they portray are sincere, and they do wonders with the modest space at La Perla.  The plays teach as well as entertain, but Briefs only runs for three days, so get your tickets quickly, and keep an eye out for next year when hopefully, this successful festival will return!


through March 3 | tickets : $15 advance - $20 at the door
Performances February 28th, 8pm, March 1st at 8pm. March 2nd at 3pm and 8pm, March 3rd at 3pm

Black Eye; written by Carolyn Gage, directed by Christopher Limber
Hannah Ryan (Amanda), Joshua Thomas (Mr. Kent) and Jenn Bock (Ms. Marshall).

My Jesus Year; written by Tony Foster, directed by Lee Anne Mathews
Charlie Barron (Jerry), Robert Thibaut (Nurse) and Laura Singleton (Trish).

Waiting for the Skell; written by EM Lewis, directed by Bonnie Taylor
Wendy Renée Greenwood (Dale) and Robert Lee Davis III (Jimmy).

The Lady and the Tramp: A Love Story; performed by Lola van Ella and Sammy Tramp, featuring Chris Barnhart.

Are You Married? written and directed by Joan Lipkin
Theresa Masters (Sharon) and Cammie Middleton-Helmsing (Nurse).

Surprise; written by Ken Haller, directed by Michael B. Perkins
Ken Haller (David) and Daniel John Kelly (Jonathan).

Zoo Story 2.0; written by Rich Espey, directed by Marty Stanberry.
Phil C. Leveling (Bob), Justin Ivan Brown (Buttercup), Troy Turnipseed (Reporter/Zoo Psychiatrist), Anna Skidis (Zoogoer 1/Carmen), Maggie Conroy (Zoogoer 2/Kate) and Nicole Angeli (Zoogoer 3/Pookie).

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