By Lorraine Longhi, March 2016 Issue.
The Phoenix theater community will welcome back its OUTLOUD production, a series of one-act plays that span a variety of themes facing the LGBTQ community, March 3-5 at The Helen Mason Performing Arts Center’s Black Theatre Troupe.
OUTLOUD: More Stories from the Gayborhood is the follow-up to 2014’s OUTLOUD production, which brought together local playwrights, directors and actors to showcase four one-act plays.
The show has expanded in its second outing, with this year’s production set to feature seven one-act plays, ranging from 10 to 30 minutes in length, from a diverse representation of Phoenix artists.
“The selection process for authors wasn’t limited in any way,” said OUTLOUD director Richard Schultz. “There are authors, both gay and straight, some who have written novels, and others who hadn’t written in dramatic form but were curious to work in the theater for the first time.”
After having their scripts workshopped for a year and a half, Schultz said he’s been working with the authors to audition actors to prepare for the upcoming performances of their plays.
As a result, an ensemble of 10 actors will play multiple roles in each of the seven plays.
Plays will include Execution of a Queen by Mitchell Dane, a reflection of life by a transgender woman in the first moments after her death, Open for Business by James Garcia, in which a gay man meets with the governor and challenges his authority on a number of social and political issues and Two Dragons by Bee Dee Heywood, a drama set in 15th century Japan as a defeated warlord shares a night of revelation and tenderness with a captain.
“This project is about putting new artists at the forefront, not focusing too much time or money on production values, but on the work that’s being done,” Schultz said. “OUTLOUD is about the writing and quality of acting being utilized for the audience, which is something I think we need to see more of in Phoenix.”
In addition to the night of live theater, patrons can enjoy several special entertainment packages, featuring a fundraiser, pre-show reception and raffle.
Event sponsors include the Phoenix Pride LGBT Center, New Carpa Theater Company, Equality Maricopa and Echo Magazine.
“There’s a lot of people who will come to this show who have never experienced what people in the LGBT community have gone through growing up,” said Clayton Scherf, Phoenix Pride LGBT Center director of development. “That exposure and sharing those experiences is really important to communicate and bridge the gaps of understanding between these communities.”
Proceeds from the event will benefit a variety of the programs offered at the center.
“With a successful run this year, the funds [from OUTLOUD] will be directly allocated towards those programs,” Scherf said. “This is definitely something that gets the community out and aware of the programs we have in place.”
Following both the evening performance March 3 and the matinee performance March 5, attendees are invited to participate in a “talk-back” session, during which the audience provides the authors and actors with feedback.
“One of the things that great theater towns have is new works being developed by different companies,” Schultz said. “That’s something I think we’re missing here in Phoenix. The vitality of the arts scene is dependent on new artists creating new works and sharing them with the community. This project does that.”
OUTLOUD: More Stories from the Gayborhood
March 3, 4 and 5 at 7:30 p.m.; March 5 at 2 p.m.
Black Theatre Troupe at The Helen Mason Performing Arts Center
1333 E. Washington St., Phoenix