Spectrum presents ‘Queeriosity: The Conversations No One Wants to Have’ as a gateway to discovering who you are
Read More: Alanis Franz, Alyssa Shuster, Amy Berlin, Hana Pearlman, Joseph Zampetti, Kendall Buffy, Mary Jane French, Michael Todd, Morgan Howard, QUEERIOSITY, Richmond Triangle Players, SPECTRUM, TheatreLAB, Zoe Cotzias, Zoe Flippen
“Queer,” as a noun, has made a significant journey of meaning. Historically, the word meant “strange”, “odd”, “peculiar”, or “eccentric”. It had also been used to mean something suspicious or not quite right and sometimes as a person who exhibited socially inappropriate behavior.
“Queer” had been similarly used to describe someone who was financially in trouble. “He is on Queer Street” was an 18th century British phrase.
The term began its pejorative life referring to sexual misadventures between two men when it was coined that way by the 9th Marquess of Queensbury who was the daddy of Alfred (Bosie), Oscar Wilde’s regrettable boy toy and the man who invented “The Marquess of Queensbury Rules” of boxing.
“Queer” never really caught on within the underground homosexual communities of the 18th or 19th century as a group identifier. In the 1980’s it resurfaced its pejorative use as a neutral or positive self-identifier by LGBT people. In 1990 “Queer Nation” took prominence and a movement was born. At first the term applied to radical social politics but as the movement and the culture came out of the closet it took on its normative meaning to include all persons of the LGBTIA world.
The LGBTIA world has morphed not only to include lesbian, gay, bi and trans but the people who are inquisitive and the people who give aid.
SPECTRUM is an LGBT outreach program created by the Richmond theatre groups TheatreLAB and the Richmond Triangle Players. Now in their second year, SPECTRUM affords the opportunity for teenage LGBT kids to express issues close to them through theatre.
Spectrum’s program director Chelsea Burke says “We started this year’s SPECTRUM with the central idea of openness… Openness in the world, with others, and more importantly: with ourselves. As with any devising process, this evolved 100 times – was broken and bent and challenged and embraced.
We had a lot of conversation around identity, advocacy, and education. The one major core truth the ensemble shared was they all received their queer education from media – specifically the internet. Tumblr, Twitter, YouTube – the internet is a veritable goldmine for counterculture and it was at their fingertips from a very young age. When that connection clicked, we knew that exploration was a perfect device for our story.
Add a touch of humor, a dash of ‘realness,’ and a ton of heart… and QUEERIOSITY was born! I couldn’t be prouder of their work!
The show was presented at the RTP space on May 26th and 27th.
With the goal of social media accessibility in mind, the group fashioned a show around the conceit of a young girl who wants some answers to what she is feeling while exploring social media in her bedroom. She finds videos, film, music, debate, dance, and stand-up comedy which all speak to her in various ways.
This production-method allows the show to proceed as a sketch comedy, one act following the other, with the young girl finding the link and telling us what we’re about to see.
The group of artists featured eight performers and two mentors. They were all wonderful, they all found ways to relate to the audience. Their man theatrical tool was improvisation. They knew the boundaries of their story but felt free enough to add whatever dialogue suited their purpose, often working through the silly problems that occur on stage – like fake mustaches falling off. Amy Berlin, a local improv artist, spent some time with the troupe working on that very thing. They picked it up extremely well, and it gave the whole evening a loose, casual and very uplifting feeling.
Every member of the troupe had their chance to shine and they all did. It is obvious that this was a group of performers had spent a lot of time together and were very comfortable with each other.
The performers need to be praised: Kendall Buffy, Zoe Cotzias, Zoe Flippen, Alanis Franz, Morgan Howard, Hana Pearlman, Alyssa Shuster, Joseph Zampetti and mentors Michael Todd and Mary Jane French.
The sketches all had “being queer” as a theme. Much of it tongue in cheek, like one which focused on the very regrettable news that a girl discovered she was straight! Some pieces spoke of the fundamental unfairness and discrimination, some about the beauty of their experiences. There was a fair division between comedy and seriousness. The evening felt very well balanced.
Not all of the pieces hit with precision accuracy, but sitting in the audience, that hardly seemed the point. The point was to support the performers on the stage, support their message and to be proud and loud about loving who you are. The packed house roared with laughter and recognition at the scenarios being played.
Anyone who wants to participate in this program can contact anyone at TheatreLAB or Richmond Triangle Players. They are both exceptional groups of people who care and provide safe havens for people of all ages to explore ways of discovery and communication through the liberating art of self-expressive theatre.
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