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  I got my hands on the unpublished manuscript of THE LARAMIE PROJECT, the original production of which was still touring the country.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

Playwright Julie Jensen on creating LGBTQ work with Plan-B

Julie Jensen’s SHE WAS MY BROTHER opened Plan-B’s 2010/11, 20th anniversary season.  Her CHRISTMAS WITH MISFITS receives its world premiere this December as part of Plan-B’s 2014/15 season.  She shares her thoughts about being a gay playwright as part of Give OUT Day. I’ve been a playwright for a million years.  Had productions all over the world.  Most of those theatres didn’t know I was gay, didn’t want to know.  Lately some theatres have known, but have chosen not to say anything about it.  At Plan-B, however, I get credit for being gay, encouraged to write about gay subjects, and taken seriously for both.  Thank you, Plan-B.  I’m happy to be associated with...

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...

Former board chair Michael Mitchell on Plan-B's LGBTQ Work

Michael Mitchell was Plan-B’s board chair from 2003-2005, while he was also the Executive Director of Equality Utah.  He is also the former Executive Director of National Stonewall Democrats and is currently the Director of Communications for the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice in Washington, DC.  He shares his thoughts on Plan-B’s LGBTQ work as part of Give OUT Day. I had been living in NYC for many years and found myself returning home to Utah in the early 2000’s. I somehow found myself on the Plan-B Theatre board, which turned out be one of the most fulfilling things I’ve done in my life. Being a former actor, I love the theatre and deeply appreciate how art shapes and changes culture. It’s no secret that Utah has a particular – and one could successfully argue, conservative – culture. Plan-B has been a life-giving and, I would go so far as to say, lifesaving counterbalance. I say “lifesaving” because I have no doubt in my mind that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender folks in the Intermountain West seeing themselves on stage – as human, flawed, heroic, humorous and necessary – has shattered deadly loneliness every moment the actors walk on stage. MY LEFT BREAST (2002) saved lives. It was acted with sharp grace and heartbreaking humor, reminding us that cancer doesn’t care about sexual orientation. When Plan-B announced that it was going to do HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH (2003 and then revived in 2005 and 2012), I’ll admit I had my doubts that it would do the original justice (having seen it several times during the NY run, including...

Former board chair Mark Barr on Plan-B's LGBTQ Work

Mark Barr was Plan-B’s board chair from 2005-2007 and is currently a New York-based (soon to be Alabama-based) realtor/broker.  He shares his thoughts on Plan-B’s LGBTQ work as part of Give OUT Day. Plan-B has a long history and tradition of presenting impactful and thought-provoking, LGBT-themed productions designed to foster counter-cultural conversation and dialogue in the heart of conservative Utah. In addition to challenging Utah cultural “norms,” exposing Utahns to the lives of their LGBT neighbors, and holding a cultural mirror up to audiences, these productions also allow Utah’s relatively small but strong and vibrant LGBT community to see themselves and their stories portrayed and reflected on stage in popular culture, creating a sense of inclusion. During my tenure as Plan-B’s board chair, we continued this important aspect of Plan-B’s mission, with productions such as the revival of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, FACING EAST and THE ALIENATION EFFEKT. In particular, FACING EAST by Carol Lynn Pearson, was an important production of which I am particularly proud. This powerful play laid bare the conflict and pain of many Mormon families with gay children and the all-too-common devastating loss of young gay men who are driven to take their own lives. Plan-B’s company went on to perform Facing East in a successful limited run Off-Broadway....

Former board Chair Tami Marquardt on Plan-B's LGBTQ Work

Tami Marquardt was Plan-B’s board chair from 2009-2010 and currently serves as board vice president. She shares her thoughts on Plan-B’s LGBTQ work as part of Give OUT Day. Perhaps nothing has moved me quite like the brutal, hateful murder of the young gay man, Matthew Shepard. In 2001, my partner Jane and I were given the opportunity to help fund the Plan-B production of THE LARAMIE PROJECT that recounted Matthew’s emotional story. Even the pre-show speech was powerful for us: it was the first time Jane and I were publicly acknowledged as a couple. I still remember meeting Plan-B director, Jerry Rapier, at the Oasis café to give him our check. When I saw the amazing, socially conscious work that was being done by Plan-B, I knew I wanted to be a part of it. It is an honor to serve on the board of such a prestigious company. As a former English teacher and school psychologist, this world of ideas and their social impact is my cup of tea. The gay theme has been woven both overtly and subtly in many Plan-B productions. As a woman who happens to be gay, this work is important to me. I see the powerful effects it can have to create social awareness and change. For example, I heard countless stories of Mormon families who came as a group to see Pearson’s FACING EAST. The conversations that these families were able to have as a direct result of the presentation of these ideas were absolutely heart-changing and created positive impact on these important relationships going forward. In the world of gay political...

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