Posted on January 24, 2014 Updated on January 24, 2014
Getting a little teary eyed at this…
Same-sex marriage: Stories from the Top of Utah.
This entry was posted in Reader's Theater and tagged contemporary works, Gay Marriage, Utah.
Standing on Ceremony, The Gay Marriage Plays
I am proud to have been a part of the Majestic Theater’s Reader Theater performance of “Standing on Ceremony, the Gay Marriage Plays.” This play consisted of nine separate plays, running a total of 90 minutes. Through connections of people in my improv class, I was asked to run the lights for this performance. I said, “Yes, I’d be happy to!”, as I enjoy being involved, it was relatively low commitment and I like to learn how to do new things. Later when I found out the play consisted of several plays covering people’s stories and experiences of the Gay Marriage issue, I was intrigued of which of my buttons it would push.
When I first got the script, I read through the plays and was struck by the honesty, humor, sadness, persecution, and family support of the stores that each author composed. The director warned me that some of the plays had provocative language and said, “I hope you aren’t offended by it.” I replied and said, “No, I won’t be offended. I might feel uncomfortable, but that’s the beauty of the social justice of theatre.” I was not offended, and yes, at times I was uncomfortable. However, the more I heard the plays read and acted, the more comfortable I got and hoped the plays would teach and encourage audience members.
I’d been rehearsing the light cues for the last week and was excited to participate in the final production. I laughed at the funny lines and I felt sad during parts about death. I was honored to participate in such a lovely production.
There were two shows, one at 3pm, and a second at 7pm. As people came up the stairs to the theater, they were greeted by a poster board with pictures of same-sex couples at their weddings. A representative for Oregon United for Marriage encouraged patrons to sign a petition to allow same-sex marriage to be legal in Oregon.
At the beginning of the show, the director said a short welcome speech, the guitar player performed his introduction piece, I dimmed the lights and the play began.
The audience laughed as an actor came out for pulled a pencil out from behind his ear and scribbled to edit his vows for “The Revision.” His partner had to make sure the words clearly reflected who they were. They chuckled at parts of “This Flight Tonight” where two women who were flying from Los Angeles, California to Iowa because Same Sex marriage was not legal in California. They groaned in exasperation over a woman named Mary Abigail in “The Gay Agenda” who was a member of every pro-family organization who became frenetic as she was so convinced that gays had an agenda to take over the world.
The plays continued with a rollercoaster of emotions. After the “Gay Agenda,” another play, “On Facebook” demonstrated a thread on Facebook about people’s opinions of homosexuality. A woman who didn’t believe gays should get married fired her opinions against several gay characters. They had plenty to fire back at her.
Then in the play following, two actors came on stage for “A Strange Fruit” with the provocative opening line, “I love cock.” The audience didn’t know how to respond as they probably thought, “what did we just hear? Are we supposed to laugh?” After the line was repeated again in different ways, the audience warmed up and began laughing. I admit, it took me by surprise the first time I read this and thought, “Ewwwe gross.” But, after time I warmed up to it.
The next play, “A Traditional Wedding,” focused on the elements of tradition-or the desire not to have a traditional wedding, but how the two women chose to incorporate different rituals into their wedding, including the end of the vows saying, “You may now kiss the broom.” (Combination of bride and groom, they didn’t like the way gride sounded).
I was doing pretty well with the light changes and transitions between each play. The center light had to be dimmed at the end of one play, all the lights had to be turned to 0% at the end of another play. One of the actors lovingly told me before the performance, “No pressure of anything, you better not F@#$ up.” I smiled sweetly at him and said, “Well, I guess it will show who’s in control.” Of course I didn’t want to mess up, I wanted the performance to be the best it could be. Well…either my subconscious was talking or I was just not paying attention, I messed up the light cues for his play of “My Husband.”
I accidentally turned up lights 2,3,4 (2 being the front half of the house lights…which should not go up during the plays), rather than 3,4,5. So, the actors were forced to stage right, rather than being more centered. I noticed the mistake a ways into the play, but didn’t know if I should change it or not, as I didn’t want to create more distraction. I left it the way it was, and felt pretty bad for making a stupid mistake. Needless to say, I learned from it and I turned on the correct light for the second performance.
“My Husband” was about a Jewish mom who was a Democrat and taught Political Science at NYU, who can’t wait for her gay son to get married…though he doesn’t even have a boyfriend. She couldn’t let her other friends’ gay son outshine him, so she took it on her own to make sure the public knew he was in good standing. It was a very light hearted and hilarious play.
The play after this one, “London Mosquitoes” was a monologue of a man who lost his partner after 46 years of living together. It was a somber eulogy of the highlights and challenges of their relationship. It brought some people to tears. The final play, “Pablo and Andrew at the Altar of Words” had the entire company on stage, three men and three women. They shared endearing words for vows that expressed love, joy and commitment.
The show ended as the live guitar music (which was played between each play) ushered the actors off stage. After the play, a volunteer from Oregon United for Marriage shared a part of his story encouraged audience members to support the campaign.
All of the actors did a fabulous job, and the director shaped a brilliant production. The music provided smooth transitions between each play. I rejoiced over their talents, their time and willingness to perform in a play that covered difficult issues.
Running the lights for “Standing on Ceremony, the Gay Marriage Plays” gave me a deep appreciation for the theatre community. I was able to participate and be of service. I met incredible people. I felt a sense of belonging with the cast I worked with. I had fun! I laughed! My beliefs have been stretched. Issues are not black and white, there are so many different reasons people live the lives the way they do. I only have control over the choices I make. I am more receptive to differing viewpoints on sexuality, marriage, and other gray-area issues. Every experience I have allows me the chance to grow deeper in awareness and understanding of others. In turn, I can continue to live out my purpose in life, to love God and serve others.
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