Actor David Spencer on creating LGBTQ work with Plan-B

David Spencer has appeared in Plan-B’s THE TRICKY PART, for which he won the Best Actor Fabby Award from QSaltLake and the Best Theatre Performance Arty Award from City Weekly.  He shares his thoughts on Plan-B’s LGBTQ work as part of Give OUT Day. In early 2008, Jerry Rapier game me a copy of Marty Moran’s script, THE TRICKY PART.  It was a solo piece that Marty usually performed himself in which he told of his childhood experience growing up Catholic in Denver, Colorado, and of his subsequent sexual abuse by a member of his religious community. As I read the script, Marty’s story unfolded in a steady and haunting series of revelations that I resonated with on a deeply personal level – his story mirrored my own in so many ways.  But I also felt that his script was compelling, dramatic, and infinitely playable and somehow I knew that not only could I tell this story as scripted, but that I wanted to take on Marty’s play and share his story with people in my community. Jerry and Plan-B are the only theatre organization in Utah that I can fathom being willing to take on the subject of sexual abuse and the intimations and confusions that it creates in resolving one’s sexual orientation.  Clearly, while the author and myself both happen to be gay, and the play was presented as being of “gay interest,” the issues of sexual orientation were peripheral to the main message of the play:  the life-long damage created by childhood sexual abuse; an abuse that makes no distinction for gender or sexual orientation. Our...

Stan Penfold (2001+)

I can still remember the day I heard about Matthew Shepard on the news. I was sitting in my office, and like the rest of the country, I was stunned. I remember crying at my desk. My relationship with Plan-B Theatre Company began in 2001 with their production of THE LARAMIE PROJECT. Jerry Rapier approached the Utah AIDS Foundation, where I am the Executive Director, and asked if we would be interested in a partnership on the production. I was not familiar with the play at the time, however, I did know the story of Matthew. Of course we would partner with Plan-B. We had to. The story was too important. That was a powerful production. I found myself sitting in the audience and crying all over again. As part of a panel discussion after one performance, I was moved by the audience reaction to the play. I have always believed in the power of art to stimulate dialog and create social change. At Plan-B you can see that power in action. Plan-B has always understood the role of theater as a catalyst for change. I will always remember that day in my office when I heard about Matthew, and I will always remember the emotion and power of THE LARAMIE PROJECT. Over the years the Utah AIDS Foundation has continued our Plan-B partnership on productions of HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH, PATIENT A, FACING EAST, THE TRICKY PART and now the reading of THE NORMAL HEART to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Plan-B and the 25th anniversary of UAF. I am honored to partner with Plan-B, changing the...

WHY I SUPPORT PLAN-B – Mike Thompson

Since 2001, Plan-B has produced plays that place LGBT issues center stage. Plays such as: A PERFECT GANESH – 2001 THE LARAMIE PROJECT – 2001 MY LEFT BREAST – 2002 HEDWIG AND THE ANGRY INCH – 2003, 2005 BASH: LATTERDAY PLAYS – 2003 A LETTER TO HARVEY MILK – 2004 PATIENT A – 2005 MIASMA – 2006 FACING EAST – 2006, 2007 THE ALIENATION EFFEKT – 2007 THE TRICKY PART – 2008 DI ESPERIENZA – 2009 To recognize Plan-B’s exceptional commitment to these important issues, Equality Utah honored Plan-B with our 2007 Allies for Equality award. I am honored to personally support Plan-B’s unique and socially conscious...

THE TRICKY PART – Jerry Rapier

I didn’t realize how much I said ‘the tricky part’ until we started working on Martin Moran’s play. I guess that’s the beauty of the title – it’s a common phrase, instantly familiar. This is the first Plan-B production in three years that the playwright hasn’t been directly involved in. However, playwright Martin Moran has been very present. Not only are we sharing his very personal story, he has been incredible open and accessible to myself and actor David Spencer. Whether it be email, phone calls or press interviews, it’s simply been a joy to brush shoulders with Marty. From my first reading of the script four years ago, I’ve wanted to produce THE TRICKY PART. But it scared the hell out of me. Every few months I would read the script and revisit my terror. It wasn’t scary because of it’s simplicity, it’s focus on storytelling, the fact that it’s a one-man show. It was scary because it’s about male sexual abuse. It was scary because it’s about moving past male sexual abuse. It was scary because male sexual abuse is an issue that makes even the most open-minded theatregoer a bit nervous. At the end of the second week of the three-week run, I am amazed at the depth at which THE TRICKY PART reaches people. I’ve realized that, at its core, the play is not about male sexual abuse at all. It’s about what comes next. It’s about self awareness. It’s about giving oneself permission to forgive oneself. A lovely, delicate, intricate, simple, complex and joyous experience awaits you this final week of the run –...

Simplicity is THE TRICKY PART – Jennifer Freed

Wow! What a year we have had with Plan-B. THE TRICKY PART is the finale of an extremely busy and successful year. It was only a short time ago that our company had the honor and pleasure of opening our first show off-Broadway. That show, of course, was FACING EAST. In some ways the two shows remind me of each other. I don’t mean in the stories by any means, but in their simplicity. Both were simple sets, a platform covered with a ground cloth. Each of them used very few props. So it was just basically the performers and the story. That’s it. Simple. Simplicity is often forgotten in our day and age with all the gadgets you can acquire: iPods and iPhones, portable DVD players, car phones, not to mention the newest and hottest in cameras, bicycles, SUVs, blue tooth, HD technology – the list goes on and on. It is no wonder the entertainment industry is clamoring to keep up with the latest trends. This is no different for live theatre. Blockbuster shows that haunt the Broadway stages dazzle us with glittering costumes, set pieces flying in and out to take us to new locations every five minutes, remote control boats floating across a stage, actors swinging on vines from the stage out into the audience, dazzling lights and sound effects, and all of the smoke and mirrors of a good magic trick. We, as audience members, walk away dazed and excited. Junkies that get our fill of magic and things we never thought possible for a live theatrical performance. I know. Why? Because I am...

The Tricky Part of THE TRICKY PART – David Spencer

We’ve just finished three weeks of rehearsal. Wow! In our fourth week coming up, we have a few rehearsals left and they’re what I’m calling our version of previews (okay, so there’re only two or three people in the house for most of them but, believe it or not, it’s very helpful). All of this leads to an official opening this coming Friday night. I started work on this script months ago – sometime in 2007; late Summer/Fall, no? – so I feel like I’ve been living with it in some form or another, forever. I feel like I’ve researched the crap out of it and looked up everything from Buckminster Fuller to sad Saint Lucy with her eyeballs on a plate – go on, ask me about the Virgin Agatha and her breasts on a platter! I know it all! Actually, it’s been very interesting research, especially for a lapsed good-little-Mormon boy who grew up being told that the Catholic Church was the Great and Abominable Church (never mind; another story for another time). The entire body of the research has been fascinating, actually; from all things Catholic to as much as I can grasp of the sociological and psychological issues around sexual abuse. The issue of being out there onstage by myself – the one-man-show issue – is really a non-issue. Frankly, I love it. Doing I AM MY OWN WIFE taught me at least that much: that I can love being out there one-on-one with an audience and that there is great freedom and excitement in being out there by yourself! How do you like that?...

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