Producing Director Jerry Rapier on Plan-B’s LGBTQ Work

Jerry Rapier has been Plan-B’s Producing Director since 2000.  He shares his thoughts on Plan-B’s LGBTQ work as part of Give OUT Day. I stumbled onto a copy of Harvey Fierstein’s TORCH SONG TRILOGY the summer I turned 16 in the Duncan, Arizona (population 700) town library.  I’m positive my aunt, who ran the library, didn’t know what it was. I had never read a play before.  I had never seen many of the words in that play before.  And I had never quite understood who I was. It opened up the world for me. Fast forward to the fall of 2000 and I suddenly found myself in a position to make artistic decisions for Plan-B Theatre Company.  I got my hands on the unpublished manuscript of THE LARAMIE PROJECT, the original production of which was still touring the country.  I called Dramatists Play Service daily for 6 months and finally had to get Salt Lake Acting Company and Pioneer Theatre Company to confirm with Dramatists that they were not interested in the title so Plan-B could produce it. That production – the first independent, regional production worldwide – was the mother of all mile markers for Plan-B. It made it possible for us to segue from a community theatre to a community-based professional theatre. With it, we launched our Benefit Performances Program; realized the value of creating true community awareness around each play; committed to producing at least one play per season focused on LGBTQ issues; and began focusing more tightly on socially conscious theatre. Plan-B had produced LGBTQ-inclusive work prior to THE LARAMIE PROJECT.  But now our body...

Actor/Director Jason Bowcutt on creating LGBTQ work with Plan-B

Jason Bowcutt has appeared in Plan-B’s THE END OF THE HORIZON and the Script-In-Hand Series readings of 8 and GHOSTS. He also directed ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMTPY SEA and will direct MARRY CHRISTMAS as part of the 2014/15 Season.  He shares his thoughts on Plan-B’s LGBTQ work as part of Give OUT Day. When I moved back to Salt Lake City from New York I had some big concerns. I knew it was the right move at the right time but…where would I find a good slice at any time? How could I leave the comfort of this super liberal society? Who would engage in conversation with me and say things like “Yes! Absolutely! Everyone has the right to healthcare! Homos should marry!?” How would I develop new friendships? How would I break into the theatre scene? And where would I find some good gay art!? As luck would have it one of the first people to randomly reach out to me was Jerry Rapier and, except for the pizza, he quickly got me on the path to resolve all of my Utah fears. From our first conversation I knew Jerry and Plan-B were something special in Utah and in theatre. I had been spending most of my time in the grubby, wonderful world of Off-Off-Broadway where innovation flourished. OOB was the birthplace of theatre that explored LGBTQ issues; I understood well the political and societal impact that this genre had in helping to shape the world in which this gay boy lived. Theatre that displayed my experience, which gave voice to my joys and fears —personal...

Designer Phil Lowe on creating LGBTQ work with Plan-B

Phil Lowe has costumed nearly every Plan-B production since 2008.  He shares his thoughts on Plan-B’s LGBTQ work as part of Give OUT Day. “Coming out” is a major event in the lives of every person in the LGBT community. For some people it happens quickly, in some cases even unexpectedly. For others, it might be a longer process. But regardless of how and when, it is a landmark event and a turning point in our individual histories. That is why Plan-B’s 2013 production of ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA stands out in my mind. To “come out” is to embrace the authenticity of who you are. Regardless of one’s individual circumstances there is an inherent fear in doing so, because it opens one up to face the reactions and judgment of those around us who we care about the most. Over the years we have seen many a play, or film, or television show where gay characters have dealt with this issue, but ADAM & STEVE cast a new and unexpected light on this subject for me. We see Steve struggle and eventually come out as gay to his childhood best friend Adam, hoping that it won’t affect their friendship. But later on, when the one-time-wayward Adam decides to go on a Mormon mission, suddenly the tables are turned, as Adam has to essentially “come out” to his gay best friend Steve as Mormon. In the gay community, it is easy to talk about all the ways we are persecuted by various factions, and to point out the intolerance of others. But in this play, we instead...

Matthew Greene on ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA

Some thoughts from Matthew Greene, author of Plan-B’s ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA at FringeNYC August 9-15.  Director Jerry Rapier answered similar questions for NYTheatre.com and was curious what Matthew’s responses would be. What do you think this show is about? What will audiences take away with them after seeing it? More than anything this show is about friendship, about the true love that can and should develop between people who care about each other.  As the characters make these discoveries, the audience will take away a fresh perspective on the challenges and blessings that come from letting someone into our world. Why did you want to write this show? I was at Brigham Young University (the Mormon school) during the Prop 8 campaign and was troubled by the way that community handled the issue of marriage equality.  I felt a serious disconnect between the doctrine of charity and love I’d been taught my whole life and the prevailing ethos of church members.  So, I started writing the play in an effort to sort it all out.  In doing so, I realized that both “sides” of the argument shared the same core values: faith, family, and unconditional love are important to just about everybody.  We just don’t always see that common ground. Who are some of the people who helped you create this show, and what were their important contributions to the finished product? From a personal standpoint, several of my friends and loved one have their handprints on the script in one form or another.  There is a fair amount of autobiography in there, so I have to...

Logan Tarantino on ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA

Some thoughts from Logan Tarantino, who plays Steve in Plan-B’s ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA at FringeNYC August 9-15.  Director Jerry Rapier answered these questions for NYTheatre.com and was curious what Logan’s responses would be. Complete this sentence: My show is the only one in FringeNYC that…? My show is the only one from Utah! Tell us about the character or characters that you portray in this show. I play a young gay man from California named Steve. The play covers 13 years of his friendship with his life-long friend Adam. Steve is a straight-A student, an All-State track star and quite popular at his high school. He is not nearly as religious as his best friend, Adam, who is Mormon. Steve is strong-minded but lonely behind the walls he puts up, as his relationship with his parents is distant and he has no other true friends but Adam. Steve is worried that if he came out to Adam, he might lose his only friend. What moment or section in this show do you really love to perform? Without giving away surprises, what happens in that moment and why do you love it? My favorite part of the show is the ending. In that moment I believe my character discovers more about love and friendship than he has in his entire life. It allows me as an actor to become a better person for the lessons that are learned. Which school or system of acting has been most useful to you in your career, and why? Uta Hagen work has seemed to ring very true to me in my...

Topher Rasmussen on ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA

Some thoughts from Topher Rasmussen, who plays Adam in Plan-B’s ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA at FringeNYC August 9-15.  Director Jerry Rapier answered these questions for NYTheatre.com and was curious what Topher’s responses would be. Complete this sentence: My show is the only one in FringeNYC that…? My show is the only one in FringeNYC with tigers so gentle you can ride them around. Tell us about the character or characters that you portray in this show. Adam is an easily swayed but growing Mormon boy who is forced to make decisions before he is able to figure out which decision is the right one. What moment or section in this show do you really love to perform? Without giving away surprises, what happens in that moment and why do you love it? I love Adam’s reaction when Steve comes out as gay. After the shock fades, his backtracking and evasive explanations remind me of so many Mormons I know. Which school or system of acting has been most useful to you in your career, and why? Typically I use a minimalized version of Stanislavski’s method for the groundwork, and then Michael Chekhov image work to enrich my experience and performance. What’s your favorite pastime when you’re not working on a play? I love writing and listening to music and exploring musical genres that I don’t understand yet. Click here for more information and to purchase...

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