Carol Polcovar and Festival Participants: Fresh Fruit Festival
Artistic Director, Fresh Fruit Festival
Living openly as a lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender person has often meant living with danger. Yet, somehow even in the worst of times, and in every ethnic community, in every tribe and nation, in every racial group, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people have survived, thrived and created. The Fresh Fruit Festival honors and supports this creativity. For the past seven years Fresh Fruit has celebrated the beauty, courage, freedom and insight of the LGBT community as expressed in its cultural contributions. Fresh Fruit is a multi-ethnic, international, multidiscipline celebration of the LGBT community and its artists. The theater portion of the Fresh Fruit Festival is always as diverse and as exciting as the community it comes from. This year's festival playwrights examine aging in the lesbian community (from two very different perspectives), being a young gay Mormon, African-American artists in conflict about politics and sexuality, a docu-drama about the recently overturned Supreme Court Decision of Bowers v. Hardwick, growing up, hooking up, and lesbian life 2009 as a cabaret...there's even a children's puppet show!
Sodomy Rules: The Bowers v. Hardwick Trial
Response by writer/performer Bill Crouch
One of the most compelling aspects of Sodomy Rules, other than the rather provocative nature of the title, is that the writer interviewed everyone involved with the infamous Supreme Court trial! The writer then becomes both the narrator of the piece, while quickly and deftly changing into thirteen different people that he has interviewed to weave a piece of storytelling based on actual occurances. The writer, fearless in his research, portrays not only the Supreme Court justices delivering both the unimaginabley insensitive majority decision, stating that homosexuals have "no relationship to family, marriage or procreation", but he also delivers a viciously funny portrayal of the Officer who arrested Michael Hardwick and his partner on that fateful day in Atlanta in 1982, Officer Keith Torick. Torick cowers when he realizes he is now subject to: "the wrath of the entire gay community".
The Bowers v. Hardwick trial was based on a gay man in Atlanta's arrest and imprisonment for committing the act of sodomy with his boyfriend in his own bedroom! The case made it to the Supreme Court in 1986. At that time, the final decision delivered by a fearful court stated that it was unconstitutional to have sex in the privacy of your own home, if you were gay or lesbian. The case was finally overturned in 2003 and Michael Hardwick was finally given justice.
Response by director Scout Durwood
V-Love rocks! It is a multi-media cabaret play inspired by true stories from the cast. Beatboxing, burlesque, song, dance, dialogue and spoken word, tell the stories of Dr. Gorgeous, a Connecticut housewife turned sex columnist, her daughter, Lily, a dancer whose best friend, J, beatboxes her way through a gender crisis, Ellen and her awkward transition from a little girl who just wants to draw to having a tryst with her boss in the corporate world, and London, who can't seem to sober up long enough to open the coffee shop she claims has been in the works since high school.
The Billy Willy Show
Response by writer/performer Billy Willy
Hello walls, I'm Billy Willy! I hate to brag but I'm the winner of the Mozambique Association of County Music Radio Broadcasters' Most Improved Artist Award. This month I'll be moseying through your fine city and I urge you to come and say hello. I'll tell stories and sing songs and we'll have a gay ol' time. Catch me while you can. We have a lot of freak livestock accidents where I come from so you might not get another chance.
Response by playwright Daniel Koenig
I think what makes my play compelling is that it's universal. Everyone—gay or straight—can relate to the characters. Most of NYC lives or has lived with a roommate in a cramped apartment. Maggie and Brian are friends, roommates, support, shoulders to cry on, someone to poke fun at. Along with the day to day B.S., they also have to deal with tragedies and new people in their lives that may or may not be there to hurt them—all with the unique ability to joke and laugh no matter how hard it gets.
Writers Colony: A Play on Words
Response by playwright David Allyn
Writers Colony is a fun, fast-paced comedy that is perfect for a summer night. It gives a "behind the scenes" glance into the world of writers at their best and their worst. How can you miss a play about ambition, jealousy, lust, plagarism, romance, celebrity, and sexual identity? If you've ever written anything, ever wanted to write anything, ever known a writer, or ever wished you'd known one, this is the perfect play for you.
Response by playwright Joe Norton
The play grew out of my encouraging adolescents to use theatre to address social issues in their schools, sexuality being one of them. The director and the cast are students from Indian River Central School in upstate Philadelphia, New York—very rural, Christian, military, cow country. They performed the play as their senior project, then openly discussed the piece with their audiences. I was impressed that they used the play to spark a dialogue about teenage homosexuality, so I decided to bring them down for the NYC premier. This is their first professional gig, a month out of high school.
Response by playwright Joel Ensana
Nobody else in the family wants cantankrous, old grannie, so her 'bitchy' but compassionate grandson and his two Lesbian friends allow her to live with them in a flat in Haight-Ashbury, S.F. as the three gays know what it is to be an 'outsider'—and in the U.S. seniors (usually called trolls) and gays (called fags) are considered 'outsiders'. But it's a boring afternoon, so her grandson and his friends play games with granny and she loves it—feeling included and she can release her feelings, which makes her feel good—letting out her 'bitchy, pentup feelings' until the end when she's left alone and can sense the future.
Response by producer Lorna Littleway
Passing Ceremonies is an opportunity for audiences to watch a friendship develop between two outspoken black gay icons who never met in real life. The play offers a great deal of insight into the life and times of both Essex Hemphill, a modern poet/journalist, and Bruce Nugent, a Harlem Renaissance poet. But much more importantly, I hope Passing Ceremonies reminds us how important it is to celebrate ourselves and each other, and to live our lives openly, and with a strong sense of purpose. Neither Essex nor Bruce completed all the tasks they hoped to accomplish in life, but they lived with a free abandon, never giving into the demands of society, and never giving up on their goals, even during their darkest moments.
Response by writer/performer Barbara Kahn
Co-op compels the audience to meet one of the invisible homeless living on the streets of New York City since gentrification. Martha, a middle-aged native New Yorker, is forced by the police from the sidewalk in front of her home of twenty-eight years, where she attempts to sell some of her meager belongings. This is done at the bidding of "all the people who bought my apartment…who don't want to know the kind of poor person who lived there before they renovated." Martha resists desperation and fear and faces her plight with resilience and humor.
Miss Mary Dugan: A Play In Two Scenes
Response by playwright Manuel Igrejas
Miss Mary Dugan (aka Joe Azzopardi) lives in Cedar Chips, New Jersey. With his fabulous parties, Mary Dugan is the center of social life of gay Cedar Chips. Despite his popularity, Dugan hasn't had much luck with men and spends many of his nights alone with porn, Doritos and Stoli. He has a crush on the good-looking, mysterious guy next door. He lives next door to a funeral parlor. A chance encounter with his dreamboat, Kevin Pecinka, rocks his world. What does Mary Dugan really want—his fantasy or the prospect of getting to know his hunky neighbor in real time?
Persephone's Autumn (Part 2 of Autumn Fruits
Response by writer/performer Suellen Rubin
Damita is a post mid-life woman who is still youthful and attractive, in a long term relationship with a woman. As she faces her aging, she feels the need for the attention of younger men to validate her sexual appeal. She is the goddess Demeter, mourning the loss of her daughter Persephone, who is a metaphor for her own youth. So little is written in the voice of women of this age. It's time for us to be heard!
June 28, 2009