Wednesday, October 24, 2018

The Coming Out Play Festival • The Q Collective

There’s a new theatre company in town, newly launched by local actor Sean Michael -- a familiar face to New Line Theatre audiences. The Q Collective will explore gender, sexuality, and orientation, with an emphasis on the development of local playwrights and composers. They take up the torch ignited by Briefs, a short play festival developed by Joan Lipkin, artistic director of That Uppity Theatre Company. Produced in partnership with Vital VOICE Magazine, Briefs featured LGBT-centric works and staged dozens of new plays during its 6 years. The Q Collective’s inaugural festival included eight short plays, culled from 66 submissions, exploring the coming out experience.

Rose (Eleanor Humphrey)
and Max (Elon Ptah) in Lisa Meyers’ Two Sugars.
A few of the plays cover the childhood friends visiting old attractions territory, like Two Sugars, written by Lisa Meyers. In it, Rose reconnects with her childhood friend, now called Max after gender reassignment, over coffee. Talk of their favorite swing and confessions of latent crushes lead to how they’ve both changed, though their chemistry remains. In Michael Pisaturo’s Where the Fireworks Come From, a recent drunken hook up between Gabe and Tony draws a sharp contrast in their reactions. It has rekindled old feelings for Tony, who’s on his way to basic training, while Gabe dismisses their periodic hook ups as insignificant.

Eric (Luke Steffen), Guy (Marshall Jennings),
Gal (Isabel Garcia) and Becca (Amanda Brasher)
in Nicholas Vasilios Pappas’ Weird.
Weird, written by Nicholas Vasilios Pappas, is a lightning fast look at the changes of a friendship over the course of 20 years, and Vincent Terrell Durham’s Baby Black Jesus: Play Four, centers on the decision of Richard’s to return to his religious roots, resulting in a breakup with his blindsided boyfriend Darryl. Elizabeth Breed Penny’s Something Old opens with Molly, who has recently cancelled her wedding to an abusive fiancé, terrified of facing her ice-cold mother after all of the money that’s been spent. Instead, she's shocked to learn that her mother respects and understands her decision more than Molly would have ever guessed. J. Joseph Cox’s Grindrd was a humorous and slightly disturbing vignette about a young man who finds out his potential online date is his own father, while Dorothy LaBounty stands out in Adam Szudrich’s Slow Dating, as a woman who’s starting to let go of her terminally ill husband, sticks a toe in the dating pool, and spends an unexpected night with a woman. The evening ended with Scott Mullen’s Cow, that featured two bad-ass gay women of color, who also happen to be superheroes.

Richard (Marshall Jennings) and Darryl (William Humphrey)
in Vincent Terrell Durham’s Baby Black Jesus: Play Four.
In addition to having a good mix of comedy and drama, the plays selected cast a broad net, covering more than the issues that concern the LGBT community specifically. In doing so, it nicely underlines a universality in the process of all kinds of self-disclosure. The Q Collective already has plans for next year, so keep your eyes peeled for its next venture.

The Coming Out Play Festival

The Monocle, 4510 Manchester Ave.
Run concluded

Ester (Dorothy LaBounty) in Adam Szudrich’s Slow Dating.
Two Sugars
Written by Lisa Meyers
Directed by Shualee Cook
Max: Elon Ptah
Rose: Eleanor Humphrey

Where the Fireworks Come From
Written by Michael Pisaturo
Directed by Taylor Gruenloh
Tony: Maxwell Gass
Gabe: David Zimmerman

Something Old
Written by Elizabeth Breed Penny
Directed by Carl Overly, Jr.
Molly: Amanda Brasher
Jade: Rachel Hanks
Leanna: Helen Pancella

Wendy (Isabel Garcia) and Quinn (Eleanor Humphrey)
in Scott Mullen’s Cow.
Written by J. Joseph Cox
Directed by Taylor Gruenloh
Steve Carew: Maxwell Gass
Kari: Stasia Kroeger
Mr. Carew: Donald Miller

Baby Black Jesus: Play Four
Written by Vincent Terrell Durham
Directed by Carl Overly, Jr.
Darryl: William Humphrey
Richard: Marshall Jennings

Slow Dating
Written by Adam Szudrich
Directed by Shualee Cook
Ester: Dorothy LaBounty

Written by Nicholas Vasilios Pappas
Directed by Sarah Lynne Holt
Becca: Amanda Brasher
Eric: Luke Steffen
Gal: Elizabeth Rajchart
Guy: Marshall Jennings

Written by Scott Mullen
Directed by Sarah Lynne Holt
Quinn: Eleanor Humphrey
Wendy: Isabel Garcia

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