What’s happening in local queer theater
By Julie Cortez, PQ Monthly
Take a break from the sunshine — or escape the inevitable spring showers — and head indoors to dine on the bumper crop of queer theatre that’s in season right now.
The Brother/Sister Plays
Set in a housing project in the Louisiana bayou and influenced by Yoruban mythology, modern dance, and playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney’s own life, Portland Playhouse will present McCraney’s award-winning trilogy in two parts. “In The Red and Brown Water,” which explores a young woman’s coming of age, began March 29 and will continue through May 13. Parts two and three, “The Brothers Size” and “Marcus: Or The Secret of the Sweet,” delve into sexuality, family ties, and brotherhood, and will run together April 21-May 13.
Sitting in on rehearsals, Alex Leigh Ramírez, outreach liaison for the plays, has been intrigued by McCraney’s’s request that the actors read the stage directions aloud, making eye contact with the audience as they do so.
“During a rehearsal, [the director] Victor Mack compared it to telling a child a story and taking a pause to explain what was about to happen next,” Ramírez says. “ … I think this technique really drew my attention to the race and sexuality within the plays because from the start I feel, as the audience, that I am a part of the story, the community that is being shown to me onstage. When something is uncomfortable the actors are checking in with me every step of the way and forcing me to think about why I am uncomfortable. It helped me to think about both the issues of race and sexuality involved in this trilogy and how they relate to my life and experiences in Portland.”
To deepen that thought process, Q Center, Process Sense, and Portland Playhouse are hosting a community conversation on race and sexual orientation following the April 29 performance. For tickets to that or any other performance, held at The Church (602 NE Prescott St., Portland), visit www.portlandplayhouse.org or call 503-205-0715.
The Fuse Theatre Ensemble is removing the Bard’s beard with their original work, “Sonnetscape,” now through April 28 at Q Center (4115 N. Mississippi Ave. Portland). In “Sonnetscape,” a multimedia performance featuring a compilation of all 154 of the William Shakespeare’s sonnets accompanied by film and original music, Fuse posits that the sonnets represent “the first great collection of literature detailing the specifics of homosexual love and its layered social complexities.”
Rusty Tennant, who directs and co-stars in “Sonnetscape” and serves as Fuse’s co-artistic director, says that while “everything with Shakespeare is debatable,” the theory that the sonnets deal with same-sex love is a common one among scholars.
“It is nearly impossible to experience the sonnets in their entirety and not recognize their importance in homosexual history and literature,” Tennant says, adding that Oscar Wilde was among the most outspoken early supporters of the idea that the sonnets reveal Shakepeare’s sexuality.
Fuse will hold a special performance and celebration on April 23 at 8 p.m. in honor of Shakespeare’s birthday. For tickets and information, visit fusepdx.moonfruit.com or call 971-238-3873.
But wait, there’s more …
April 19-21 is the final weekend to catch Artists Repertory Theatre’s special run of “Standing On Ceremony – The Gay Marriage Plays,” presented in partnership with Basic Rights Oregon. Tickets and information: www.artistsrep.org/.
Triangle Productions presents the story of gay icon and one-time Oregon gubernatorial candidate Gracie Hansen in the musical “Gracie” in Portland at The Sanctuary (1785 NE Sandy Blvd.) May 3-27, with Seattle dates to be announced. Tickets and information: www.tripro.org/.