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  I got my hands on the unpublished manuscript of THE LARAMIE PROJECT, the original production of which was still touring the country.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

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...

Phil Lowe's most memorable Plan-B costume design

Phil Lowe has designed costumes for the Plan-B productions of ANIMAL FARM, BLOCK 8, THE LARAMIE PROJECT: TEN YEARS LATER (at Kingsbury Hall), WALLACE, AMERIGO, SHE WAS MY BROTHER and BORDERLANDS. As a costume designer in Utah I spend a lot of my time working in musical theatre. It’s flashy, it’s fun, and it’s easily consumable by the masses. But as an educator, I am constantly reminding my students that the purpose of theater is not only to entertain, but also to educate and enlighten. This past summer I designed a production of SOUTH PACIFIC (at Utah Festival Opera & Musical Theatre). Though laced with themes of racial prejudice, most people remember it as a love story on an island set against the backdrop of WWII. When I was first asked to write about my most memorable Plan-B costume design I was in the process of returning some of the costumes I had rented for that production. As I was re-stocking some ladies dresses in the 1940’s section I came across a dress I had used in designing BLOCK 8 for Plan-B. As I glanced to the right I recognized a dress I used in a production of CABARET (at Egyptian Theatre Company)hanging down the row in the 1930’s section. It got me thinking that while there lots of stories that have been told about WWII both in Europe in the Pacific, the stories of the people in Japanese internment camps right here in America are few and far between. That is the thing I love most about all of the productions that I have worked on at Plan-B....

April Fossen's Most Memorable Plan-B Role

April Fossen has appeared in Plan-B’s Script-In-Hand Series, a slew of SLAMs, MIASMA, SHE WAS MY BROTHER and MESA VERDE. It’s difficult for me to write about playing the role of Tabitha in MESA VERDE by Matthew Ivan Bennett, because writing about it makes me realize that the role was (and clearly still is) too close. Playing Tabitha was powerful and all-encompassing and I had to force myself to leave her behind when the show closed so I could get on with the business of life. I lived inside Tabitha’s mind and emotional world for almost 5 years and as incredible of an experience as it was, I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. I’m a big proponent of actors keeping a safe distance from their characters. I don’t believe in “method” acting and I try not to take characters home with me. I think the work belongs in the space and real life belongs everywhere else. But sometimes, there is so much of a character in you and so much of you in a character that the separation becomes impossible. I don’t know that I can describe how I feel I’m like Tabitha, or how she’s like me. There’s the obvious; I’m stubborn, I’d rather joke about something than have a deep discussion, I have in turns loved and hated my sisters, I can be distant if you push too hard… But that’s not the meat of it. The meat is something I can only describe by saying I FEEL her. Which is so touch-feely-actor-y it makes me squirm to even write it. But here’s the thing: that’s not...

Patron Comments: SHE WAS MY BROTHER

SHE WAS MY BROTHER continues through Sunday, November 7 – tickets available at 801.355.ARTS I went to SHE WAS MY BROTHER last night with my parents. You [Jerry Rapier] met my father, Al Kuipers, and kindly introduced him to Julie Jensen. As my father told you he was raised in Zuni. He still considers Zuni his home. He took my family to Zuni often growing up and took all of the grandchildren there last year. First, I think you did an amazing job directing this play. I don’t know how people unfamiliar with the Zuni’s felt, but my father was stunned. It was a very special night for him. There was also a Lamana [Zuni for two-spirit or transgender] there when he was growing up in the 1930s. Although my grandfather was sent there as a Christian Reformed minister and headmaster of the school (and if you know anything about Christian Reformed, they are incredibly conservative) my grandfather accepted and integrated the Zuni beliefs with Christianity and truly loved the Zuni people. My grandfather spoke to his children about the Lamana openly and in a manner that was very factual without any judgment. The play was so well written that my father was stunned at the accurate depiction of the Zuni. The role of the mudheads, the treatment of the children, the torturing of small stray dogs, the wonderful sense of humor in the tribe, I could go on and on. So kudos to Julie Jensen. We all thought that Joe Debevc could not have done a better job with an incredibly difficult role. He was amazing. We wished...

Reactions to SHE WAS MY BROTHER

Thank you for the opportunity to preview SHE WAS MY BROTHER. So very few plays (or much of anything else) have a Native American theme. When a friend and I heard of the reading of SHE WAS MY BROTHER a year or two ago, we attended and were very pleased with a reading of an excerpt of the play in progress. And when you invited my friend and myself to a dress rehearsal because you had received some strong negative feedback questioning the intent of the play, we gladly accepted. Personally, as a Native American, Northern Ute, I found nothing offensive. In fact, it is an affirmation of a Tribal Nation to accept one for what they are and have the freedom to portray themselves without recrimination. The play, based on historical fact, showcased the Native character as the wise, strong, unpretentious one. Too many times Natives are portrayed in extreme stereotypes – this play did not do that. It didn’t shed the anthropologists in the most positive light but, they weren’t always honorable in their quest to ‘study’ the Native populations. Again thanks, and kudos to the playwright, Julie Jensen, whose productions have aways been sensitive to topics that the populace may misunderstand or not know anything about. I will enjoy it once again with tickets I’ve purchased. – Donna Land Maldonado (Northern Ute) SHE WAS MY BROTHER is an interesting story, told through the eyes of an anthropologist during the late nineteenth century. The two-spirit Zuni character is empowered and comfortable within society. And, on the flipside, the white characters struggle with their feelings because of Victorian...

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