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  I got my hands on the unpublished manuscript of THE LARAMIE PROJECT, the original production of which was still touring the country.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...

Patron Megan Pedersen Guitierrez on Plan-B's LGBTQ Work

Megan Pedersen Gutierrez wrote this response to Plan-B’s BORDERLANDS in 2011.  It was originally published on her website A Theatre Lover on April 3, 2011 but was lost in a site crash.  She republishes it here today as part of Give OUT Day. It’s not often that I write a full entry for a show. However, BORDERLANDS really impacted me today and I wanted to explore some of those emotions. Not a review as much as a reflection. Borderlands is currently running at Plan-B Theatre. I had high expectations for this show and I can say that this is the best production I have seen with Plan-B Theatre Company and the best show I have seen this year. Perhaps because it hit so close to home (LDS and gay themes) and perhaps because it was just that good! BORDERLANDS is written by a current BYU professor and self-proclaimed “orthodox” Mormon. It’s a show about honesty and being human. It opens with Dave, a used car salesman who just wants to be honest for once and tells Gail (a woman shopping for a car) not to buy any cars on his lot because they’re all junk. And thus, the story is set in motion. Dave has broken the pattern of saying what people expect him to say and thus, the rest of the show is honest reflections on what the characters are really feeling. I loved this show for its simplicity. There is no overwrought dialogue and posturing to be profound. It is simple, to the point and honest. I could ramble on about the technical aspects that were done...

Actor Kirt Bateman on creating LGBTQ work with Plan-B

Kirt Bateman has appeared in Plan-B’s A PERFECT GANESH, THE LARAMIE PROJECT, THE WAR OF THE WORLDS, ANIMAL FARM, EXPOSED, GUTENBERG! THE MUSICAL!, DI ESPERIENZA, AMERIGO, BORDERLANDS, LADY MACBETH, NOTHING PERSONAL and CLEARING BOMBS; as well as the Script-In-Hand Series readings of THE NORMAL HEART and 8. He also acted in or directed for every SLAM,  directed TRAGEDY: A TRAGEDY and is married to Producing Director Jerry Rapier, with whom he has a son, Oscar.  He shares his thoughts on Plan-B’s LGBTQ work as part of Give OUT Day. Chances are if you are a Gen-X baby, as I am, that just happens to be a member of the LGBTQ community, you rarely saw anything in film or television – or certainly on stage in Utah – to give you an idea of what being gay meant or could mean, or (maybe just as importantly) didn’t mean. I was born in the mid-70s.  My formative years were in the 80s during the plague that wiped out a generation of light (I use that word on purpose).  I was in high school and college in the early 90s when, fortunately, we started to see ourselves portrayed, but in cities that might as well have been Siberia to a little farm boy from West Jordan. What must it be like to be a millennial or a kid today with gay people as part of your every-day-boring-routine world?  Gay affection without dudes screaming.  And lead characters on stage and TV and in film, living normal, successful, difficult, promising, disappointing, exciting, boring lives.  Just living.  Life.  I envy young LGBTQ people today in many ways....

Designer Jesse Portillo on creating LGBTQ work with Plan-B

Jesse Portillo has lit nearly every Plan-B show since 2007 and teaches Queer Theatre at the University of Utah. He shares his thoughts on Plan-B’s LGBTQ work as part of Give OUT Day. Over the course of my career, I have had the opportunity to work on a number of productions that dealt with LGBTQ issues. The most important and memorable experience for me was during an audience talk back after a performance of Matthew Ivan Bennett’s ERIC(A). A young man in the audience raised his hand and commented on the play, he mentioned that he was gay, and that both of his Moms were incredibly supportive of him. I unfortunately do not remember the rest of his comment because I was immediately lost in my own thoughts as I reflected on how much the world has changed for the better since I was in high school. I started to think about the ways that this young man’s daily life are so very different than my life was when I was his age. As I reflected on the changes that have happened, I was reminded how much farther we have to go. The LGBTQ-oriented plays that Plan-B Theatre has produced, including ERIC(A) and Eric Samuelsen’s BORDERLANDS, are somewhat unusual in their focus on queer characters as functioning, empowered individuals. These productions have reminded me how much the world has changed in the recent past, and how much work is yet to be done. I am happy to help create theatre that shows all of us what the world should look...

Eric Samuelsen: welcome to A DOLL HOUSE

Eric Samuelsen’s plays MIASMA, AMERIGO and BORDERLANDS have received their world premieres at Plan-B. His translation of Henrik Ibsen’s A DOLL HOUSE kicks off Plan-B’s 2011/12 Script-In-Hand Series on Sunday, August 28 in partnership with the American Civil Liberties Union of Utah and the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah. A DOLL HOUSE examines gender roles, social constraints and the power of secrets through the seemingly happy marriage of Nora and Torvald Helmer. People frequently ask me what’s involved in translating a play. Well, the goal is to render as closely as possible a text in one language into another language. But that’s trickier than it sounds. An example: In the play, Nora admits to her friends that sometimes she wants to say ‘fy fanden’ to Torvald. In Norwegian, ‘fanden’ means ‘the devil.’ So what she’s saying is ‘I want to say to him ‘go to the devil.’ Except that isn’t really something insulting we say in English. What she’s really saying is ‘I want to swear at him, I want to insult him, I want to shock him.’ English is rich in words of invective – we have lots more swear words than they have. Norwegians really just have ‘fanden.’ So to translate the sense of what Nora is saying, I have to come up with something equally shocking and inappropriate in English. But this is also Nora we’re talking about. Which word would she use? What I came up with is ‘Torvald, you’re an asshole.’ That seems to me about right. I call the play A DOLL HOUSE instead of the traditional A DOLL’S HOUSE. It’s a more...

Stephanie Howell's most memorable Plan-B role

Stephanie Howell has appeared in Plan-B’s BASH: LATTERDAY PLAYS, THE ALIENATION EFFEKT, THE END OF THE HORIZON and BORDERLANDS. She is also the only actor to have appeared in every SLAM. My most memorable Plan-B role to date: Gail in Eric Samuelsen’s BORDERLANDS. I miss her. I wanted to help her, to protect her and help her find her path and now she’s gone and I can’t. I wonder how she’s doing and where she is in her journey. I worry about her…her brittle exterior, her cracked patina. Her fragility masked by a protective edge. All of which makes me loony-tunes, because “she” is “Gail,” a fictional character who, at the moment, is confined to a page — sucked back into the two-dimensional world of typed out words. But I had the distinct honor of bringing her off that page and making her mine. Of embracing her flaws, and then experiencing the sadness of letting her go. How can I miss “her” when in a way she is me? Except of course, she’s not me. Never was. And yet she is. See, loony-tunes. I felt a responsibility with Gail. To take care of her. To protect her. To be true to her and to the play, which was, in the end, about honesty and hope and humanness and living the truth. Maybe that’s part of why the experience was so memorable. Working on BORDERLANDS was itself an experience in honesty, hope, humanness and the truth. What theatre should be. What life should be. So, yeah. Gail was the most memorable. And I miss her. Learn more about our upcoming...

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