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

Jerry Rapier has been Plan-B’s Artistic 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  I got my hands on the unpublished manuscript of THE LARAMIE PROJECT, the original production of which was still touring the country.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...

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....

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...

Trustee Benjamin Brown on Plan-B’s LGBTQ Work

Plan-B trustee Benjamin Brown shares his thoughts on Plan-B’s LGBTQ work as part of Give OUT Day.  The first Plan-B production I saw was FACING EAST and that experience changed my life for the better. The year before, I had returned from a LDS mission and was struggling with my own self-identity and finding a path in life. That experience helped me find the courage to follow my instinct and live authentic to what I felt inside. After seeing FACING EAST and many other Plan-B productions, I wanted to find a way to be involved to help them continue to provide our community with amazing productions and stories. Please consider donating to Plan-B, they do amazing work that directly benefits the local LGBT community in...

Trustee Brian Doughty on Plan-B’s LGBTQ Work

Plan-B trustee (and board treasurer) Brian Doughty shares his thoughts on Plan-B’s LGBTQ work as part of Give OUT Day.  My first exposure to Plan-B Theatre was during the 06/07 season. I had won a silent auction basket that included two season tickets to Plan-B and really did not know how special local theatre can be for a community. Being a gay man reared in Texas and being active in my local Baptist church, I have had my fill of guilt and shame. While not always the case today I am a proud gay man. My first Plan-B Theatre production was the world premiere of FACING EAST. The premise of Mormon parents struggling with the suicide of their gay son hit very close to home. It took me back to the days of being a closeted Baptist boy who had thought about suicide a few times. Luckily I never came close to actually planning my death, but still the thoughts flickered time to time. I sat there watching FACING EAST and I wondered how my parents might have reacted had I actually harmed myself? And it made me realize how far I had come. Accepting myself as a gay man and letting friends and family I love know the true Brian was a beautiful life event I would have missed. Plan-B Theatre productions make me pause and contemplate life: past, present, and future. That’s what good theatre should always strive to do. A few years and many productions later I was asked to join the Board of Trustees for Plan-B. I did so without hesitation. Knowing the work that Jerry, Cheryl,...

Designer Randy Rasmussen on creating LGBTQ work with Plan-B

Randy Rasmussen has designed nearly every Plan-B set since 1991.  He shares his thoughts on Plan-B’s LGBTQ work as part of Give OUT Day. I grew up on 90th South in a orange brick four-bedroom. I knew I was different and I knew to keep my mouth shut about it. I remember looking up a few words in the big dictionary one day at Mt. Jordan Jr. High School. Homo was the first word I looked up. I then found homo sapien and homosexual. I then had to look up perversion and sexual deviation. Opening THE LARAMIE PROJECT in 2001 was a very special time for me at Plan-B. It was the first time we had really waved a rainbow flag around town and people took notice. We had done so many shows in the 90’s under the worst possible conditions. It was not like we had been doing guerilla theatre – it felt more like D-Day theatre sometimes. Gay theatre really seemed marginalized, the kind of thing you saw in the back of bars and really no nicer than anything we probably were doing at the time. We had training and standards and experience – despite the fact that you might be parked on a scary street or sitting on a folding chair listening to the sound of Shakespeare with a hum of portable air conditioners – we knew you could tell the difference. We were terribly serious about all of it and, despite that, the whole thing looked it could fall apart any minute.  In my very narrow view, gay theatre was really not something professionals did...

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