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LGBTQ Theatre Flourishing in Red State America

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Richmond Triangle Players Celebrate 25 Years

Virginia’s Richmond Triangle Players, now celebrating 25 years as one of the area’s best bets for a great evening at the theatre, garners rave reviews from a faithful local patronage. This season, the company launched a “three-year programming arc” to produce shows “focusing on the impact of LGBTQ theatre and the artform itself,” as well as its home community. An impressive selection of titles, ranging from new scripts to modern theatre classics, fulfills this mission to a T, and apparently, the company enjoys a warm embrace in the City of Richmond.

If you’re planning a trip to the area later this month, grab your tickets now for RTP’s next production: A surreal, feminist, gender-bending epic Cloud 9 by Caryl Churchill from September 27 to October 23. You can read more about the show in this month’s PrideLight, an ongoing column sharing our theatre recommendations. This is RTP’s nod to the edgier fringe, a selection for theatre goers who enjoy stretching their brains a little and their imaginations a lot. If you were a drama kid like me, it’s the one you read in Modern Drama years ago and have just been dying to see ever since.

Richmond Triangle Players (RTP) has long been the spot for top notch productions along with excellent bar service and comfortable seating (great hospitality and a comfortable tush never hurt a performance, I always say). At least one faithful patron shared that he drives an hour from Williamsburg several times a year to enjoy RTP productions in the newly designed theater located on Altamont Avenue, the company’s home for the last 7 years.

RTP’s 25th season opened with The View Upstairs by Max Vernon a new drama set in 1970s New Orleans. The View Upstairs garnered positive reviews for the company that enjoys consistent acclaim for its musical theatre and non-musical offerings. The ensemble of cast members combines the talents of professional actors from markets like New York with local veterans of the stage and talented newcomers who can hold their own with the pros.

Opening in mid-November and running until December 16, two company favorites Jacqueline Jones and Robert Throckmorton reprise the roles they introduced on the RTP stage 15 years ago in Santaland Diaries and Season’s Greetings by David Sedaris, adapted by Joe Mantello. This hilarious satire brings a bit of holiday cheer to Richmond. I’m absolutely positive the bar will be enjoyed by one and all throughout the run of this gay celebration.

Allowing RTC to connect with its community through a statement about Christian faith, the company selected the controversial Corpus Christi by Terrence McNally for January 31-February 24 (take your Valentine). A re-telling of the New Testament that portrays Jesus as an American gay man struggling to balance his love for high school boyfriend (Judas) with shepherding his flock of 11 gay disciples and his higher calling. For McNally’s Christ figure, a young man named Joshua, spreading God’s love to the queer population at large is the character’s super-objective. The central character, like the New Testament Jesus, is eventually killed when he returns to his hometown of Corpus Christi, Texas, to share his message. The play’s tragic end doesn’t stop the comedic and satirical genius of McNally from shining through. The show offers hilarious scenes and physical comedy juxtaposed with deeply emotional moments. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see this show, especially if you were raised as a three-day-a-week churchgoer like I was, you must see this show. I’m probably biased, but I’d have to say that the best producers and performers for this script need to be familiar with the experience of having Christianity influenced oppression to get this one right.

Having directed this play in Oklahoma City a few years ago, I’m thrilled to see another “red state” theatre company tackle this piece by a living icon of American theatre. Hold onto your skirts, sister Nancy, this is a participating production in the city-wide Acts of Faith Festival. Yes, you saw that correctly. There has been an annual Christian theatre festival in Richmond since 2005. If I left the description at that, you wouldn’t catch me within 10 miles of it. Sounds like a nightmare of deacons in bathrobes holding shepherd’s crooks, but don’t rush to judgement like I did. The group describes themselves as “ecumenical and inclusive, assuming a very broad understanding of faith,” and the Second Presbyterian Church is named as “convening sponsor.” This collaboration between the faith community and professional theatre companies presents a variety of plays in a range of genres and styles with either overt or subtle spiritual undertones. And the LGBTQ are warmly welcomed under this roof as evidenced by the years-long collaboration with RTC to bring a play about gay Jesus to the Christians of Richmond.

This is why theatre matters. This is why theatre has the power to bring about social and political change. This is why public funding for the arts and being a patron and supporter of theatre is SO important to our existence as an evolved species. (Sorry, I thought I was in the pulpit for just a second there.)

More required viewing, not just for the LGBTQ but for everyone, Normal Heart by Larry Kramer takes the stage in the spring at RTP. Produced to acclaim all over the world, Normal Heart won a Tony for its recent Broadway revival, and the HBO film is considered definitive by many in the theatre world. RTP aptly denotes the play as “a central work to the history of the LGBTQ movement and its theatre.” This searing drama about the public and private indifference to the AIDS plague runs April 18-May 12.

A Chorus Line rounds out the RTP season. The “no holds-barred celebration of the American musical” is celebrated in the LGBTQ community for being one of the first mainstream musicals to feature an openly gay character as a whole person, not a comedic caricature. The company notes the importance of memorializing its four authors who all fell victim to AIDS. If A Chorus Line is one of your favorites or – if god forbid – you haven’t seen a production of it EVER, you can predict a passionate performance by RTC and its ensemble. A Chorus Line celebrates the dancer in us all and holds a special place in the hearts of every musical theatre kid and dancer who never made it, as well as many of those who did.

While RTP’s loyal patronage lines up first to spread the news, its fellow theatres in Richmond have also stepped up to support their LGBTQ neighbors. In celebration of RTP’s 25th anniversary, Virginia Rep and Cadence Theatre Company teamed up to present Fun Home through October 15, and offered RTP patrons a special discount. Winner of several Tony Awards including the 2015 Tony Award for Best Musical, Fun Home (music by Jeanine Tesori, based on the graphic novel by Alison Bechdel, book and lyrics by Lisa Kron) follows a lesbian named Alison through the past and present as she struggles with her connection to her father and growing awareness of her sexuality. I found out about the Richmond production of Fun Home through a promotional email from RTP even though some of the dates will run concurrent with one of its own shows. Cross-promotions like this are rare in theatre communities who typically compete like gladiators for audience attention. When I expressed my surprise, Executive Director Philip Crosby responded: “We have a truly wonderful and supportive community here. It makes the work all the richer!”

While the RTP season features a few titles you can see almost anywhere, the company should be commended for its well-chosen season of new plays (you’ll see for the first time), standards (you need to see and need to see again), and edgy theatre art pieces (the ones you read in college and always hoped to see for yourself. I’m clearly talking to the other five of you out there who took Modern Drama.) The impact RTP is having on the LGBTQ community and the outreach they are doing deserves a big spotlight. Catch the next show while you’re in Richmond or plan a trip to see one of your favorites. Seeing artists boldly treading new boards in red state America gives all of us hope and makes us deeply proud.

Like to see more about Richmond Triangle Players? Check out this inspiring documentary about the company’s first 20 years and its evolution into the professional theatre it is today.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vjzk0sBibRI

TravelPride Estimate: Under $100 total for two tickets, refreshments, and parking (free after 6 pm). The company recommends purchasing tickets online where patrons can select individual seats and print them at home with no waiting. The company offers lower-priced shows on Wednesdays. If you’re a theatergoer, you know that professional shows at these prices are almost unheard of in major markets.

For more details and to pick your tickets, visit www.rtriangle.org.

Originally posted 2017-09-25 18:41:03.

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Meet the Drapers: New Reality TV Series Where Viewers Can Invest in Startups.

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meet the drapers
Meet the Drapers: New Reality TV Series Where Viewers Can Invest in Startups.

First-Ever Crowdfunding TV Show “Meet the Drapers” Premieres on Sony Entertainment Television November 19th, 2017.

Ever watch your favorite investment show and wish you could get in on the action, too? Now you can! In the new reality series, “Meet the Drapers”, millions of viewers will be able to invest alongside the sharks — the Draper family, Silicon Valley’s top venture capitalists.

Meet the Drapers, the first series of its kind, allows regular people to become investors — right from their couch, while watching the show. This unique angle is made possible by the recent SEC regulations that for the first time opened investment crowdfunding to the public.

Investments will take place through the equity crowdfunding platform Republic, which has announced it will be Meet the Drapers’ official investment platform.

“Republic’s partnership is instrumental for the show’s success,” says producer Sarika Batra. “No other platform out there makes investing as friendly and easy, which is critical for the – often first-time – investors watching the show.”

“Crowdfunding is removing barriers like never before,” says Republic CEO, Kendrick Nguyen. “What was once viewed as an industry for a selected few is now accessible to everyone. And we’re thrilled to be part of a TV show that promotes entrepreneurship and enables greater diversity among both founders and investors.”

“South Asians – the show’s core audience – are a vibrant part of the Silicon Valley startup culture,” says Jaideep Janakiram, Head of the Americas at Sony Pictures Networks. “We created this show to showcase these trailblazing entrepreneurs, VCs and angels, and to allow our viewers to participate in their ventures.

“Meet the Drapers” is produced by Sarika Batra and is airing in partnership with the Draper Family, Sony Entertainment Television (SET) and Republic and sponsored by ICO Investor.tv.

The series premieres Sunday, November 19 at 6PM ET on Sony Entertainment Television. SET is a paid channel on Dish network, Sling TV and major cable providers — please check your local listings.

About Republic:
Republic launched in 2016 with a mission to democratize investing. A leading equity crowdfunding platform and sister company of AngelList, Product Hunt and CoinList, Republic is part of one of the most prominent startup ecosystems in the world. On Republic, anyone can invest in breakout early-stage startups for as little as $10 in just a few minutes, using their credit card or bank account.

About Sony Entertainment Television:
Sony Entertainment Television (SET), one of India’s leading Hindi general entertainment television channels is a part of Sony Pictures Television (SPT) backed Sony Pictures Networks, which is India’sleading television network. Since its launch in October 1995, SET has created a unique space for itself in the Indian Television industry. Pioneering new waves in television programming, with blockbuster movie premieres, big format non-fiction shows and an impressive array of fiction shows like Sabse Bada Kalakar, Super Dancer, The Kapil Sharma Show, Indian Idol, Kaun Banega Crorepati, Entertainment Ke Liye Kuch Bhi Karega, Sankat Mochan Mahabali Hanuman, Beyhadh, Kuch Rangpyre Ke Aise Bhi, Bajirao Peshwa, CID, Crime Patrol Bade Acche Lagte Hain, Bharat Ka Veer Putra Maharana Pratap and Itna Karo Na Mujhe Pyar. SET is known for its innovative concepts and exciting formats and is the most preferred family entertainment channel which has been providing strong platforms for more than 700 brands to reach over 93 million households in India. In addition, Sony Entertainment Television is also available in the US, UK, Africa, Europe, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Singapore, Pakistan, Nepal, Bangladesh, Maldives, Malaysia, Indonesia, Fiji Islands and Seychelles. In total, SET influences over 332 million viewers in the Indian sub-continent, and the South Asian Diaspora worldwide.

About ICO Investor.tv:
ICO Investor.tv is the title sponsor of the show. They are a trusted source of information for Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs) enthusiasts and ICO investors. Their sister site, NextGen Crowdfunding will provide data for all campaigns on the show, and a live Crowdfunding Ticker will display updates on investor commitments for each campaign. Through the Meet the Drapers dashboard, viewers can “follow” and track the deals they are most interested in.

More information on the show please visit setasia.tv/meetthedrapers.
Show website: http://meetthedrapers.com/
Detailed information on participating startups can be found on republic.co/meet-the-drapers.

Originally posted 2017-11-19 04:37:43.


Also published on Medium.

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How To Complete NaNoWriMo Without Losing Your Sanity

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When most think of November, they conjure up images of turkey, cozy sweaters, and the seemingly endless preparations for the Holiday Season. However, if you’re in the writing community, November brings up images of frantic typing and the fear of a looming deadline.

That’s right folks, NaNoWriMo is here, and it’s getting cray.

  What’s NaNoWriMo you ask? It’s a fancy acronym for National Novel Writing Month. This month-long creative “holiday” was created by freelance writer Chris Baty in July of 1999 with 21 participants in the San Francisco Bay area. The next year, it was moved from July to November to “to more fully take advantage of the miserable weather.

The objective? Write a rough draft of a novel (about 50,000 words or more) in 30 days. Anyone else screaming yet?

This is a free event that anyone can do, just join their website and start writing in any format. Just as long as you get 50,000 words before the end of the month. Participants can submit their novel to be automatically verified for length and receive a printable certificate, an icon they can display on the web, and inclusion on the list of winners. Also, bragging rights.

 Hey there,  I’m Ellen, a Features Writer here at TravelPride and a writer by occupation. I have a BFA in Creative Writing and have written a novel already. I’ve always wanted to do NaNoWriMo and I thought this would be the perfect time to do it. Plus I want to take a break from writing my current memoir and do the fun interconnected short story collection I’ve been dying to write for years. I thought this was going to be so easy. I mean my senior thesis was 50,000 words. My novel manuscript is 96,000 words. 50,000 words will be a piece of cake.

Me, Writer and actual Fool.

I was wrong. It’s hard ya’ll.

       To complete NaNoWriMo on time you need to write 1,667 words per day, which is roughly 6 pages, double-spaced. That may not seem like a lot, but with everything you have to do in a day, plus find the creativity and energy to write 6 pages seems overwhelming.

   Then there’s something I call the “NaNo slump” which happens around the second or third week of November. The first week of NaNoWriMo you’re all excited and ready to write, cranking out 2,000+ words a day. Then you get busy, writer’s block or just plain fall behind and then quit because you think you can ever catch up.

   Well, stop write there (get it?). I’ve got some great tips for how to complete NaNoWriMo without losing your inspiration, hope, and sanity.

 

Write Everyday

The most important part of writing for NaNoWriMo or just being a writer is creating a writing schedule. One of the genius things about NaNoWriMo is that it allows you to become a better and more successful writer after this is over since it takes 30 days to create a habit. By writing every day in the month of November, you’re setting yourself up for writing all year long.

Carve a period of time out of your day and set it aside just for writing. It can be early in the morning, late at night, an hour, two, whatever you can and use that time to just write and only write. If your life is a little crazy and can’t form a schedule, write when you’re on the go. Carry your tablet with you, use the Notes app on your phone, or do the old-fashioned pen and paper and write whenever you get a free moment. Waiting for your flight? Write. Commuting to home or work? Write. On your lunch break? Write! You’ll be surprised how all those little moments of writing really add up. It’s just important to write every day. Just write it!

Prompts

   Oh, Writer’s block, the sworn enemy of a writer. That blank page causes so much anxiety and could lead you to giving up on your project because you’re “stuck.” A writing prompt could help you. NaNoWriMo’s website is awesome because they have a feature called “word sprints” which is a timed writing challenge. You set a timer, open up your draft, and race against the clock to add words to your novel. They have a cool “dare me” button that gives you little writing prompts such as “Write a scene that takes place in a house of mirrors.” or “Have one character have a sudden personality switch with another”. It’s a fun little way to get the juices going. You can also just google “writing prompts” to find some good ones. Have fun with it!

Buddy System

   Teamwork makes the dream work! NaNoWriMo has a cool feature where you can have a writing buddy with friends who are also doing NaNoWriMo, which is a fun way to help encourage each other or be a shoulder to cry on. One of my dear friends, Cassie, who’s also a writer has been doing NaNoWriMo for years and she’s been a great resource (she also made a book cover for me, because she’s the real MVP). My friend Kelsey is doing NaNoWriMo for the first time too. It’s just nice to not feel alone in my frustrations and have someone who is also going through this. NaNoWriMo also has forums where writers can talk to one another because, despite popular belief, writers are not solitary creatures, but communities.

Let Go and Have Fun

   I personally put so much pressure on myself, not only during NaNoWriMo but in my everyday professional life. When something I write isn’t perfect on the first try, or I don’t meet my word count, I beat myself up over it. You have to remember that NaNoWriMo is all about having fun. No one is reading your novel right now, no one is judging you but yourself. You have 30 days to write 50,000 words, it’s okay if you take a break or write something crappy. You can always write more words and it’s better to write something crappy and edit it later than to never write at all.

   For some more words of advice let’s talk to TravelPride’s own Editor and Weekly Columnist, Summer Kurtz. Summer has actually completed NaNoWriMo in the past. Here’s how she completed the writing challenge:

“I had to set a schedule/goal and really stick to it as closely as I could. I think I tried to do a certain number of words daily and if I didn’t quite hit that I had a weekly goal to try and meet or even exceed if possible. It really helped me to become a more disciplined writer but also learn not to beat myself up over not reaching every single goal. On days I got stuck I would write a couple hundred words on any other topic I felt like until my motivation returned.”

   Fantastic advice. How are doing in NaNoWriMo? Let me know in the comments and follow my own NaNoWriMo journey here. Remember: we’re all in this together!

Happy Writing!

 

Originally posted 2017-11-15 18:30:10.

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Ten Literary Landmarks For Any Traveling Booklover

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Books are magical. They can take you to far-off places without even moving your feet. But what if you want to see the places of people you’ve read about in real life? Luckily, organizations such as the American Library Association, global historical society, and die-hard bookworms, have preserved and created literary landmarks that anyone can enjoy all across the world. From childhood homes, museums, and even statues. Here’s a list of 10 places to add to your literary bucket list.

 

 

 

Edith Wharton(1862-1937) broke gender boundaries and society’s exceptions to become one of America’s greatest writers. She was the first woman awarded the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for her novel Age of Innocence. Most of her novels have themes of declining morals and wealth in the late nineteenth century. The Mount is not your typical author home tour. Not only does it offer guided tours and exhibits, it also has ghost tours, mimosas on the terrace, a cafe, a women’s writer-in resistance program, and a pet cemetery. Heck, you can even have your wedding at the Mount, but honestly, you had me at ghost tours.

  1.  The windmill at the Stony Brook Southampton campus, Southampton, NY

  

 Okay, so I’m down for anything that has to deal with windmills but the story behind the Windmill at the Stony Brook Southampton Campus is both interesting and sad. In 1957. the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Tennessee Williams lived in the campus windmill after the death of his friend and Abstract Expressionist painter, Jackson Pollock, and wrote the play “The Day on Which a Man Dies” based on Pollock. Sad, but the fact that he lived in a windmill is pretty cool.

  1. Charles Dickens Museum, London , England

Making a trek to London during the holiday season?  Make sure you plan to visit 48 Doughty Street, the London Home of Charles Dickens. This is the home where the famed writer wrote the classic novel Oliver Twist and The Pickwick Papers. The Charles Dickens Museum holds over 100,000 items including manuscripts, personal items and more. There are exhibits, a garden cafe, as well as a lot of activities for children such as the Costumed Christmas walks, performances of “A Christmas Carol” and “A Very Dickensian Christmas Eve.”

  1. Sleepy Hollow, New York

Washington Irving’s The Legend of Sleepy Hollow has become a classic Halloween spooky story still read today. However, many don’t know that Sleepy Hollow is a real place, one which has fully embraced its celebrity status. There’s the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery Tour, The Great Jack O’Lantern Blaze, The Sleepy Hollow Lighthouse Tours, Haunted Hayrides and so much more. They even take on some other classic works such as a circus-theater adaptation of Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven and a one-man show of A Christmas Carol.

  1. Walden Pond, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Get lost like Thoreau by visiting Walden Pond! Perfect for nature lovers, you can take a lovely nature walk/hike, spend the day at the beach, go kayaking or canoeing on the water or fish; you can even cross-country ski or snowshoe in the winter. You can visit Thoreau’s original cabin and the reproduction. Since the land has been left unchanged it’s almost like you’re walking through the Walden that Thoreau knew.

  1. Shakespeare’s Globe, London, England.

Shakespeare and book lovers go together like pretzels and Nutella. Even if you haven’t read any of the original Shakespearean text, you’ve probably been exposed to some adaptions (10 Things I Hate about You anyone?). The Globe is still standing after many rebuilds, and still holds performances as well as exhibitions and tours. They still put on Shakespeare’s plays; last season they put on King Lear, Much Ado About Nothing, Twelfth Night and Romeo and Juliet, some with a modern twist.

  1. Platform 9 ¾, King’s Cross Station, London

Every Harry Potter fan dreams of one day going to Platform 9 3/4 and getting on the Hogwarts Express. While you might not be able to hop on the Hogwarts Express, you can now find the actual Platform 9 3/4 and have your picture taken holding the handle of a trolley, making it look like you’re running from one world to the next. Don’t forget your wand and house scarf!

  1. James Joyce’s Dublin, Ireland.

Author James Joyce made his beloved Ireland famous with his epic novel Ulysses and other novels that also take place in the city of Dublin. It’s so popular that there is even a holiday known as “Bloomsday” in honor of the character. You can take a walking tour of James Joyce’s Dublin, a 3.5-mile route broken up into two days for the full experience. Some of the stops on the tour include the James Joyce Center, The Writer’s Museum, Merrion Square where you’ll find a statue of laid-back Oscar Wilde, and lots of bars.

  1. Jane Austen’s House and Museum, Hampshire, England

As a Jane Austen fan, I’m all about the Jane Austen House and Museum. Especially since this year is the 200th anniversary of Jane’s death. There’s a lot of bicentennial events going on including exhibits, film screenings, talks, walks, and even picnics. You may even find your match!

  1. Edgar Allan Poe Museum, Richmond, VA

As a huge Poe fan, I would be remiss to leave him off the list. The Poe house, while not in some haunted mansion or catacomb, is still pretty cool. They have an enchanted garden (with a Pumpkin Patch), a shrine to Poe where people like Gertrude Stein and H.P. Lovecraft have visited, as well as a large collection of Poe’s artifacts. The museum also has two living black cats: Edgar and Pluto, that live in the museum. There are also a lot of parties going on at the museum, such as a Halloween Bash, an “Unhappy” Hour of live music, and Poe’s Birthday Bash on January 20th. They host weddings at the Enchanted Garden, which is the only way I’ll ever have a wedding.

 

Have you visited these literary landmarks or have more destinations to add that will make any book lover put down their book? Let me know in the comments.

Happy Travels!

Originally posted 2017-11-14 20:32:01.

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