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October PrideLight: Our Spotlight on Theatre and Entertainment

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PrideLight seeks to guide you off the beaten path to seek out the best of regional and community theatre events that might not pique your curiosity at first glance.

The goal is exploration, after all.

Atlanta, GA

Who: Alliance Theatre Company
Where: Dad’s Garage
When: NOW PLAYING – November 12

http://alliancetheatre.org/production/2017-18/hand-god#section–venue

HAND TO GOD: Regional and community theatres can’t wait to get the irreverent puppet comedy Hand to God on their stages. (We covered the Portland production at Triangle Players last month.) Described as “darkly delightful” (The New York Times), Hand to God – Tony Award nominee, and the most produced play in American regional theater in the 2016/17 season – makes its Atlanta debut. After the death of his father, meek Jason finds an outlet for his anxiety at the Christian Puppet Ministry.  Jason’s complicated relationships with the town pastor, the school bully, the girl next door, and—most especially—his mother are thrown into upheaval when Jason’s puppet, Tyrone, takes on a shocking personality all its own. Produced in association with Dad’s Garage and performed – appropriately? – in their new theater space in a renovated church, Hand to God explores the startlingly fragile nature of faith, morality, and the ties that bind us.

Alliance presents Hand to God at Dad’s Garage. Founded in 1995, Dad’s Garage is a non-profit comedy theatre located in the heart of Atlanta’s historic Old Fourth Ward neighborhood. With award-winning improv comedy, scripted shows, and a fully-stocked bar, it’s a major part of Atlanta nightlife and a great venue for date night. Open Wednesday through Saturday, every week of the year, Dad’s Garage offers improv classes, theatrical plays, corporate workshops, private shows, video production, and more

More from Alliance Theatre in Atlanta:
Where: Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta
When: NOW PLAYING – November 25

http://alliancetheatre.org/production/2017-18/crossing-delancey#section–venue

CROSSING DELANCEY: The play that inspired the hit film, Crossing Delancey is the story of Izzy, a beautiful, intelligent, single young woman, and her 80-year-old Bubbie, who is determined to see her granddaughter get married before she dies. Giving Cupid a nudge, this irascible granny hires a matchmaker and sets out to find her granddaughter the perfect mate. But will Sam, the neighborhood pickle man, be the kind of man Izzy has in mind? Performed at the Marcus Jewish Community Center of Atlanta’s warm and intimate Morris & Rae Frank Theatre, this hilarious and heartwarming play takes a bemused look at the clash between traditional Jewish-American immigrant culture and the more modern aspirations of the next generation.

“The MJCCA is pleased to welcome the Alliance Theatre’s production of Crossing Delancey. This play’s themes of family, memory, and finding one’s soulmate celebrate and complement the mission of the MJCCA.” -Noah Aronson, Chair MJCCA Arts & Culture

The Alliance Theatre puts world-class work on stage, but prides itself as one of the most successful and respected acting education programs in the country. Devoted to theatre, arts, and arts education; Alliance has won awards for its work and advocacy.The company has become one of the leading theatres in the Southeast, creating the powerful experience of shared theatre for diverse people.

Boston, MA

What: 3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show
Where: South End/Calderwood Pavilion at Boston Center for the Arts
(presented by Sleeping Weazel theatre company)
When: November 3 – 11

3/Fifths’ Trapped in a Traveling Minstrel Show turns minstrelsy inside out and upside down in a blend of song, dance, video, and storytelling, at turns hilarious and terrifying, and sometimes both. A new piece inspired by Scruggs’ original 3/Fifths, which enjoyed a critically acclaimed NYC premiere in May 2017, this lean, mean theatrical machine features three high-voltage actors slyly performing this country’s racist history and ongoing need for dialogue and change. This show is dangerously fun!

Sleeping Weazel is a critically-acclaimed, Boston-based multimedia theatre company whose socially progressive, experimental work crosses and confounds the boundaries of “mainstream” and “avant-garde” as well as boundaries between art forms. The company has presented a dozen productions of original works and is currently a resident company at Boston Center for the Arts. They are also a member of the Resident Lab at Charlestown Working Theatre. Sleeping Weazel works from the premise that the best live theatre celebrates the ridiculous, the sublime, and the earth-shattering. Combining bold, experimental style with social justice ideals, the company motto, “Making Different Possible,” means “we dream awake” with audiences in Boston, and beyond. http://www.sleepingweazel.com/

What: A Guide for the Homesick by Ken Urban
Where: South End/Calderwood Pavilion at Boston Center for the Arts
(presented by Huntington Theatre Company)
When: NOW PLAYING through November 5

Huntington Theatre Company brings together rising star playwright Ken Urban (Huntington Playwriting Fellow) and director Colman Domingo, a face many will recognize from his starring role on AMC’s “Fear the Walking Dead.” The Story: On his way home after a year in East Africa, a young aid worker goes back to a shabby Amsterdam hotel room with a fellow American. The two strangers look for redemption from their pasts and confess their shared fear that they betrayed the people who needed them most. A passionate encounter becomes a chance to confront the truth in this new play.

Performances run Tuesday through Saturday evenings with matinee performances on Saturdays and Sundays. Approximate running time is 75 minutes with no intermission. Tickets range from $20-$85 with discounts offered for students, people under 35, and seniors.

“Ken Urban is one of the most exciting writers and most generous of human beings. The Huntington is a theatre where I’ve created groundbreaking work with Mary Zimmerman (Journey to the West) and with Lisa Kron (Well). What an exciting time to dive into the deep end of the pool with Ken’s latest work A Guide for the Homesick. A home that is built to examine our inner human struggles and global crisis. I am thrilled to be at the helm of this collaboration,” -Director Colman Domingo

Peruse other upcoming Boston productions and purchase tickets for both of the shows mentioned above at www.bostontheatrescene.com.

Previously Recommended in PrideLight:
What: Wicked Queer (a series of films with a queer perspective)
Where: Museum of Fine Arts, Boston
When: Ongoing
Tickets, Titles, and Show times: www.wickedqueer.org

Chicago, IL

What: Hard Times adapted from the novel by Charles Dickens
Where: Lookingglass Theatre Company
When: NOW PLAYING through January 14

The Industrial Age is in full swing as the citizens of Coketown stumble through the smoke-choked streets. But when a small traveling circus comes to town, a ray of hope flickers through the gloom. Artistic Director Heidi Stillman adapts and directs this timeless, Dickensian tale of haves and have nots, toil and greed, beauty and hope.

The Lookingglass Theatre Company combines a physical and improvisational rehearsal process with training in theatre, dance, music, and the circus arts. We seek to redefine the limits of theatrical experience and to make theatre exhilarating, inspirational, and accessible to all. Recipient of the 2011 Tony Award for Outstanding Regional Theatre, Lookingglass has built a national reputation for artistic excellence and ensemble-based theatrical innovation. Notable world premieres include Mary Zimmerman’s Tony Award-winning Metamorphoses.

It’s really not enough to merely read about this theatre company. Check out the visual feast of imagery and movement that Lookingglass typically serves up in Chicago. I’d recommend planning a trip to see this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=9&v=0cgK7SGdJzk

“Heidi Stillman—in her finest, most nuanced work as both adapter and director—has crafted a show of tremendous grace and heart, darkness and light. She has brought to life a Victorian-era epic that bursts with wit and whimsy, and all the outrage, hope, severity, and sentimentality of the novel.” – Chicago Sun-Times

Previously Recommended in PrideLight:
What: A Perfect Arrangement
Where: Pride Films and Plays at Pride Arts Center
When: NOW PLAYING-October 22
Tickets: www.pridefilmsandplays.com.

Dallas/Fort Worth, TX

What: Life Sucks by Aaron Posner “sort of adapted from Checkov’s Uncle Vanya”
Where: Stage West Theatre in Fort Worth
When: NOW PLAYING through November 12

Life is, like, really hard. It’s tough being the gorgeous woman desired by all but understood by none. Or the homely girl with a heart of gold. Or the middle-aged man insightful enough to see the cavernous depth of his own failings. A quirky and deeply human new installment in the Chekhov cycle in this regional premiere from the playwright of Stupid F*cking Bird – full of all the delight and charm that love and longing can inspire.

Stage West has risen from modest, storefront beginnings to a highly-respected place among American regional theatres. Over the years, the theatre has produced a wide range of works – classic American and world drama, Shakespeare, Shaw, contemporary Broadway plays and musicals, as well as new works by aspiring playwrights, including 12 world premieres.

Previously Recommended in PrideLight:
What: Hair: the American Tribal Love Rock Musical
Book and Lyrics by Gerome Ragni & James Rado
Music by Galt Macdermont Directed by Kevin Moriarty
Where: Dallas Theatre Center
When: NOW PLAYING-October 22
Tickets: www.DallasTheaterCenter.org 212-880-0202

WARNING: This production will include Hippies cursing, smoking pot, getting naked, mocking societal conventions, meditating, taking LSD, flaunting their sexuality, celebrating their race, creating a happening, singing and dancing. Also, there will be audience participation. Consider yourself warned, and come to the Be-In.

This show is getting rave reviews. Here’s a taste in this “making of” mini-documentary about Dallas Theatre Center’s Hair at the Wylie Theatre in Dallas: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y1YBOO_Pp1Q

Guthrie, Oklahoma

What: Hedwig and the Angry Inch
Where: The Pollard Theatre Company
When: NOW PLAYING – October 28

You’re thinking, “Where in the world is Guthrie, Oklahoma, and why would I want to go there?” Believe it or not, there’s a thriving theatre community in the Oklahoma City Metro area, and this city has had quite a passionate love affair with Hedwig.

Starring as “Hedwig” at The Pollard will be Matthew Alvin Brown who performed the role in its self-produced Oklahoma premiere at OKC’s StageCenter in 2002, then soon after at The Nightingale in Tulsa, The Opolis (Norman, Ok), the IAO Gallery (OKC), and The Sooner Theatre (Norman, OK), then again at The BOOM drag club and dinner theatre in 2008. When a group of Hedwig aficionados decide you’re going to see Hedwig, it doesn’t matter how “red” your state is; you are going to see Hedwig, thus the Wig was introduced to Oklahoma.

A few years after The BOOM production, there was a growing fan base and enough of a buzz among Oklahoma Wig-lovers to bring the show to the Freede Theatre at Civic Center Music Hall. OKC Theatre Company did a two-week run of the show at the Civic Center with Brown, director Christopher Castleberry, costume designer Christopher Sieker, and most of the original band and cast reassembled including Renee Anderson as “Yitzhak.”

Brown switches seats and climbs into the co-director’s chair next to artistic director Jerome Stevenson in The Pollard’s Hedwig (with Tulsa Project Theatre). He’ll perform the role through the first half of the run, then hand off the Wig to local favorite Jared Blount for the second half. (Clever marketing, guys. Now, I’ll have to see it twice!) Get your tickets here: https://tickets.thepollard.org/. You can sit/dance/sway/fist pump next to me.

(Full disclosure: I live in Oklahoma and am darn proud of the arts scene here. People that persevere to make art – queer art – happen in middle America have to be a dedicated and passionate bunch. In other words, we like our theatre down here.) Expect an energetic, immersive, and passionate performance of Hedwig in Guthrie, but don’t wait to get your tickets. The shows typically sell out.

Now here’s the “where” and “why” on Guthrie, Oklahoma. Located approximately 40 minutes from OKC’s Will Rogers World Airport, charming Guthrie is the town that time forgot (in a good way…ok, ok… In some ways, admittedly). You are venturing into “red state” country, but be not afraid. Chances are, you won’t be the only fabulous person there.

While just over a century old, the state of Oklahoma and Guthrie (it’s Territorial Capitol) has a surprising selection of antique malls and boutiques that will tickle the fancy of pickers and collectors of every stripe. The historic town’s ongoing restoration efforts make its downtown area the largest Historic Preservation District in the nation. Take a trolley tour through downtown to find fascinating history, one-of-a-kind stores, and more than a dozen Bed & Breakfasts housed in charming Victorian-era buildings or in a lovingly restored Victorian home, some within walking distance of the theatre. Discover the diverse collections of Guthrie’s many museums, including the Oklahoma Territorial Museum.

The Pollard Bed & Breakfast is located next to The Pollard Theatre and consists of 12 beautiful guest rooms, each with a private bath and individual temperature control. This B&B is decorated with a Victorian flair and is filled with antiques and historic charm. The Eager-Hirzel building was built in 1904 and originally housed the Guthrie Savings Bank. The hallways and suites are full of beautiful antiques and histories of past influential people of Guthrie and Oklahoma. Check out, https://www.pollardbb.com/. If they’re booked or fall outside your budget, there are several other top-rated Bed & Breakfasts in Guthrie, and autumn is a lovely time to visit this part of the country.

London , U.K.

What: The Exorcist
Where: Phoenix Theatre
When: NOW PLAYING – March 10, 2018

Inspired by true events, The Exorcist is William Peter Blatty’s best-selling novel, which captured the attention of an entire generation. Adapted into a highly controversial 1973 horror film, the terrifying tale is unleashed into the West End for the first time ever, in a unique theatrical experience that is bound to petrify London audiences.

Award-winning film and theatre director Sean Mathias leads the production, which is set to play at the Phoenix Theatre throughout autumn and winter. Widely considered to be one of the scariest stories of all time, William Friedkin’s two-time Academy Award-winning masterpiece shocked audiences into fainting, and went on to become one of the top ten highest grossing films of all time. After a hit season at Birmingham Rep, the majority of the original cast transfers with the production. Now, The Exorcist creeps on to the Phoenix Theatre stage for a strictly limited season, just in time for a very chilling Halloween.

Performances are at 8pm Monday-Thursday, with two showings at 4pm and 8pm on Saturday. Friday performances are at 6pm and 9pm.

Find tickets at https://www.phoenixtheatrelondon.co.uk/the-exorcist/ and see a glimpse of the terror here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bxlgo4X1JGk

What: Of Kith and Kin
Where: Bush Theatre
When: NOW PLAYING – November 25

Daniel and Oliver are about to have their first baby with best friend Priya as surrogate. They’ve turned the study into a nursery and the bottles are sterilized. All that’s missing is the bundle of joy they’ve been pining for. But when Daniel’s chaotic mother crashes the baby shower, the cracks in Daniel and Oliver’s relationship begin to show. Are they as ready for this as they think they are? Everyone knows you can choose your friends. Chris Thompson’s gripping new comedy takes us to the heart of what happens when we choose our family too.

The Bush Theatre co-produces Of Kith and Kin in association with Sheffield Theatre. Now in its newly renovated space, the Bush Theatre invites you to come for a drink in the Library Bar, discover plays in their Reading Room, or see a show. It’s a one-stop destination (for theatre nerds, but yes, for you as well). For tickets, call 020.8743.3584 Mondays-Saturdays from 10:00am-6:00pm. Bookstore is open until 11:00pm. Purchase your tickets here: https://www.bushtheatre.co.uk/whats-on/

Los Angeles, CA

What: Bright Colors and Bold Patterns written and performed by Drew Droege
Where: Celebration Theatre at The Lex
When: NOW PLAYING through October 25

Written and performed by Drew Droege (Drunk History, Bob’s Burgers, and the internet’s “Chloe”) and Directed by Michael Urie (Ugly Betty, Modern Family, and Logo’s Cocktails & Classics), Bright Colors And Bold Patterns is a riotous new solo play that storms the stage with ferocity and wit, called a “sidesplitting rant on gay marriage” and “hilariously expressive minimalist perfection” by critics (Annenberg Digital News, Stage Happenings LA) when it last ran in Los Angeles.

Josh and Brennan are about to get married in Palm Springs on a lovely Saturday afternoon. However, the night before becomes a drunken, drug-fueled scream riot, because their friend Gerry has arrived, furious that their invitation says “please refrain from wearing bright colors or bold patterns”. In the struggle for equality, what do we really want? What do we lose? And is there any cocaine left?

Celebration was founded in 1982 by gay rights pioneer and co-founder of the Mattachine Society, Chuck Rowland, and continues to provide a safe and supportive forum for professional and emerging LGBTQQIA writers, directors, designers, and performers, giving voice to the full experience of gay culture. And in the past decade, the theater has expanded outreach into its own community, offering educational and family programs, as well as partnering with numerous community organizations, like the LA Gay & Lesbian Center and Congregation Kol Ami. Over 30 years later, Celebration remains the only professional theatre with the mission of creating an outlet for LGBTQQIA voices in Los Angeles.

Bright Colors and Bold Patterns is selling out fast. Here are some other titles with tickets still available that are NOW PLAYING at Celebration Theatre So Long Boulder City starring Jimmy Fowlie, and The View UpStairs a new musical by Max Vernon. Explore various ongoing events and purchase tickets: https://www.celebrationtheatre.com/

If you’re headed to Celebration Theatre, here’s some helpful hints on parking and getting to the theatre: https://www.celebrationtheatre.com/faq

What: Head of Passes by Tarell Alvin McCraney directed by Tina Landau
Starring Phylicia Rashad
Where: Center Theatre Group at Mark Taper Forum
When: NOW PLAYING through October 22

An astonishing, deeply moving new drama about family, acceptance, and the power of faith from MacArthur “Genius Award”-winning playwright Tarell Alvin McCraney (The Brother/Sister Plays, Oscar® winner for Moonlight), featuring Tony Award® winner Phylicia Rashad.

At the mouth of the Mississippi River, Shelah’s family and friends have come to celebrate her birthday and save her from a leaking roof. But in this contemporary parable inspired by the Book of Job, unexpected events turn the reunion into the ultimate test of faith and love. As her world seems to collapse around her, Shelah (Rashad) must fight to survive the rising flood of life’s greatest challenges in this poetic and piercing new play.

As one of the nation’s most influential nonprofit theatre companies, Center Theatre Group proudly continues a 50-year tradition of using the art of theatre to broaden horizons and illuminate new perspectives.

Find tickets ranging from $20-$99 for Head of Passes at Mark Taper Forum: https://www.centertheatregroup.org/

New York

What: KPOP conceived by Woodshed Collective and Jason Kim,
book by Jason Kim, music and lyrics by Helen Park and Max Vernon
Where: Ars Nova at A.R.T
When: NOW PLAYING in an extended run through October 21

Have you been sitting on a plane all day on your way to New York? Does the thought of sitting in a theatre seat make you want to run? Ars Nova has the antidote. This show moves, and so will YOU! Ars Nova presents the world premiere of KPOP, and promises that America will never be the same. Inviting you into an immersive performance with the Korean pop music factory where stars are made…and broken, they describe the show as an “all in” experience. Zachary Stewart of Theatremania calls KPOP “the most ambitious off-Broadway musical of the year.”

Ars Nova is committed to developing and producing theater, comedy and music artists in the early stages of their professional careers. Dubbed by The New York Times as a “fertile incubator of offbeat theater,” Ars Nova blurs genres and subverts the status quo. Ars Nova gives voice to a new generation of artists and audiences, pushing the boundaries of live entertainment by nurturing creative ideas into smart, surprising new work. Ars Nova has been honored with an OBIE Award and a Special Citation from the New York Drama Critics’ Circle for sustained quality and commitment to the development and production of new work.

Ars Nova want you to be aware of the following:
-All audience members will be standing, walking, and climbing stairs. We strongly suggest wearing comfortable shoes.
-For your convenience and the safety of the performers, there will be a mandatory, complimentary coat-check.
-There is no late-seating or re-entry. Please arrive early, use the restroom and take advantage of the cheapest drinks in midtown!
-KPOP is wheelchair accessible. If you require accessible seating or have mobility issues, please purchase Wheelchair Accessible tickets. Please note, there is no Transfer Arm Seating for this production. If you have questions about accessibility, please reach out to Christopher Pritchard.

The show runs 2 hours 30 minutes with an intermission. Shows are Mondays through Wednesdays at 7:00, Thursdays through Saturdays at 8:00, and check to see if a 3:00 pm matinee is offered during your NYC excursion. Tickets are $25-$100. Buy them at http://arsnovanyc.com/KPOP. If the show is sold out online, don’t despair. Ars Nova wants to fill the house each night and get as many people in to see this show as possible. “Stand by” tickets are typically available. The Waitlist forms outside the theater every night to scoop up the seats vacated by cancellations and no-shows. Thirty minutes prior to every performance, names are taken in the order of the line. First come, first serve, and no guarantees. (Worth the risk in my opinion. If you get through the door on this hot ticket, can I be your date?) Starting October 9, Ars Nova is holding 10% of the house at $25 for audiences under 30 years of age. No advance sales on this deal, so show up early ready to line up and grab yours at least 30 minutes prior to curtain.

What: Jesus Hopped the “A” Train by Stephen Adly Guirgis
Where: Signature Theatre (Irene Diamond Stage)
When: NOW PLAYING through November 12

Pulitzer Prize-winner Stephen Adly Guirgis (Between Riverside and Crazy) begins his Residency at Signature with a new production of his darkly comic meditation on redemption and faith, Jesus Hopped the ‘A’ Train, directed by Obie Award-winner Mark Brokaw. Angel Cruz is a 30-year-old bicycle messenger awaiting trial for the death of the leader of a religious cult. Inside Rikers Island, a terrified Angel is befriended by a charismatic serial killer named Lucius Jenkins. Lucius has found God and been born again, and now, Angel’s life and the course of his trial will be changed forever.

Signature Theatre  invites you to a chat after the show with the cast and creative team about their process creating the production on October 12, 12; November 7, 9. On November 5, at 4:30pm, come together with fellow audience members to discuss the play with each other. Have your questions answered, explore the play’s themes, and discover where the conversation leads you!

Find tickets and read about upcoming shows at Signature.

Previously Recommended in PrideLight:
What: Fearless: Art in the Face of Adversity
A series of performances by LGBTQ artists
Where: The Clemente Soto Velez Cultural & Educational Center
When: Ongoing throughout 2017-18
Tickets: Check www.theclementecenter.org for upcoming titles in this exciting series. Admission is $15 per performance.

What: Torch Song by Harvey Fierstein, Directed by Moises Kaufman
Where: Second Stage Theater at Tony Kiser Theater
When: NOW PLAYING
Tickets: 212-246-4422
The theater offers student access tickets one hour prior to curtain to full time students and $30 under 30 tickets will be available in advance for patrons under 30 and for limited performances before October 19. (Valid ID required.) Find out more at www.2ST.com.

What: {my lingerie play} 2017: The Concert and Call to Arms. Story, Music, and Lyrics by Diana Oh
Where: Rattlestick Playwright’s Theatre
When: NOW PLAYING through October 28
Tickets: $40 general admission. Explore www.rattlestick.org to purchase tickets and find out more.

Portland, OR

What: Insignificance by Terry Johnson
Where: Defunkt Theatre Company
When: NOW PLAYING – November 18

Award winning playwright Terry Johnson imagines a 1950’s hotel room in which The Scientist and The Actress (who look suspiciously like Albert Einstein and Marilyn Monroe) meet and discuss the universe, guilt, regret, America, and the meaning of life. They are interrupted by two Joes: The Senator and The Ballplayer (looking an awful lot like McCarthy and DiMaggio), who bring with them the menace and mayhem of the outside world. Co-Artistic Director Andrew Klaus-Vineyard follows last year’s celebrated production of HIR with this searing evening of theater that the London Independent says “transports us to the birth of celebrity culture” and “has a rare quality of timelessness about it” that has grown timelier with age.

Known for imaginative productions of bold, provocative material, Defunkt is Portland’s destination for theater that makes you think and feel and talk about afterwards. The Oregonian described their 2010-11 season as “fearless and unflinching” and writes “Defunkt Theatre reminds us why risky theatre is worth our time,” while Kevin M. Thomas (San Francisco Examiner) says “If you want exciting theatre in Portland, I would race right now and get tickets to Defunkt Theatre.”

Located in the heart of the vibrant and historic Hawthorne district (with an entrance located inside Common Grounds Coffee Shop) , Defunkt is a distinct presence in Portland’s arts community. No other company offers more to the public at such a low cost. With a deep belief and commitment to the idea that theatre should be accessible to all, Defunkt recently embarked on its first “Pay-What-You-Will” season, but you can reserve tickets here: http://www.defunktheatre.com/show-seats/

San Diego, CA

Previously recommended in PrideLight:
What: Homos, OR Everyone in America by Jordan Seavey
Where: Diversionary Theatre
When: NOW PLAYING thru October 15
Tickets: www.diversionary.org
This show is getting great reviews, so if you’re in San Diego this weekend, put this at the top of your “to do” list.

San Francisco, CA

What: The Israel Philharmonic Orchestra
Where: Davies Symphony Hall
When: October 31, 8:00pm

Kicking off a long-awaited eight-city tour, the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra are headed to the States for a soulful series of concerts that calls for peace in this unsteady world. Conducted by its Music Director for Life Zubin Mehta, and exciting triple program awaits patrons at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco. (Click the link for tickets to this and other music events at Davies Symphony Hall.)

The concert kicks off with noted film composer Amit Poznansky’s Footnote Suite, followed by Beethoven’s celebrated Symphony No. 3 Eroica, which has remained one of his most popular works. Next will be Ein Heidenieben by Johann Strauss. The program features Grammy Award-winning Israeli-American pianist Yefim Brohfman.

Formed in 1936 at a time when many Jewish musicians were being ejected from European orchestras, its inaugural performance took place in Tel Aviv in December of that year.

Tickets range from $124 – $260. Helpful hints on getting to Davies Symphony Hall and parking.

Previously Recommended in PrideLightDrop by Un-Scripted Theater Company Saturdays at 10:00pm and enjoy all the fast, funny, fearless hilarity the company can jam into an hour for an admission price of only $10. The fact that this show is offered weekly is testament to the company’s depth of talent and audience demand. Un-Scripted bills the weekly show as “a seamless, spontaneous, and continuously morphing spectacle of excitement and laughs.” www.un-scripted.com

When you see any of the shows on our list, please share your thoughts about the experience and the welcome you received. Did we get it right or miss the mark? Do you have a favorite theatre company or performing arts group in your area? Tell us about them!

Read last month’s PrideLight.

 

Originally posted 2017-10-19 16:35:23.

Celebrities

Film Review: Battle of the Sexes

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With women and the LGBTQ community in hopeful anticipation of seeing ourselves and our history played out on the big screen, last weekend Twentieth Century Fox released “Battle of the Sexes” in theaters. I went last Saturday afternoon to see mainstream Hollywood’s take on the infamous 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs, and looked forward to connecting with the human stories behind one of the most infamous events in modern feminist history. While the artful production design and crackling performances from the actors give us a lot to be proud of, this is not a film I can recommend, and the mis-steps found in the well-intentioned script lie at the heart of the problem.

On September 5, 1995 First Lady Hillary Clinton stood at the podium at the United Nations Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing and declared “women’s rights are human rights, and human rights are women’s rights.” Last week, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley voted against a resolution condemning the discriminatory use of the death penalty for LGBTQ people. Despite the Trump administration’s weak clarifications in an attempt at damage control, the fact remains: the United States failed to stand up for LGBTQ people around the world. We were, and are, still fighting this battle of the sexes. Secretly, King fought a personal battle to guard the secret of her sexuality from almost everyone who knew her including her husband, family, and certainly the professional and public world of tennis.

Over 3 decades after Billie Jean King, a married world-famous female tennis champion, was outed as a lesbian in a lawsuit brought by her former girlfriend and 42 years after her ground-breaking leadership on the issue of equal pay for women in the world of sports, women and LGBTQ people are still fighting for justice in the workplace and equal rights. The importance of knowing our stories, of telling them, and making sure they are remembered cannot be understated.

This film reminded me that the world knew King as a straight woman in 1973. We didn’t have “gay stars” back then. We had male stars and female stars. To come out was to risk everything. We know Billie Jean King as she is today, a lesbian icon of rights for women and LGBTQ people who did “something or other” back in the 70s, but most of us know the story in basic terms at best. The basic plot points are easily accessible with a few clicks these days. What a film, or any good storytelling, should do is to connect us to the human beings who lived out these plot points. What are their moments of personal challenge, failure, or triumph? We can go back and watch the old clips if we want to know exactly, in perfect historical terms, what happened. A great film explores these questions but goes beyond that to connect audiences to their imaginations, to evoke empathy and inspiration.

“Battle of the Sexes” is somewhat successful as a historical account, but it falls far short of that mission at times giving us stereotypes and filler instead of character, conflict, and substance. First, who are the other women, including one woman of color, who joined Billie Jean in the walk out to form the Women’s Tennis Association, the first league of its kind? In this film, with the exception of Margaret Court the homophobic Australian player who beat King to win the first WTA tournament, the other athletes are cardboard cut-outs “Woman 1, 2, & 3,” their dialogue strung together with tired feminist slogans and lines that are fraught with stereotypical language. In “Battle of the Sexes,” they are exactly the empty-headed pretty faces that men at the time expected them to be. Depictions of women like this make it easier for men to discount us as second class citizens. In one particularly embarrassing scene, the women squeal and jump up and down when they find out they’ll have a hairdresser on the tour. If the women were fleshed out in the screenplay as individuals with depth and varied personalities, goals, and interests, scenes like this one are less hard to watch. These heroes of feminism in their own right, the sisters who stood with King and risked their careers for the cause of female equality, deserve a lot better. (Read more about 1996 inductee to the International Tennis Hall of Fame  Rosie “Rosebud” Casals portrayed memorably by Natalie Morales.)

My next question is; are we supposed to be grateful? Are we supposed to be grateful to see the Hollywood mainstream pull off a tender and believable same sex love scene? The script by Simon Beaufoy does not explore or even hint at the core of who these two people are and the possible consequences of what was happening between them, so how could I? We see two women locking eyes for the first time, their growing attraction to one another. We see their first kiss. And the actors are giving it their all. The direction shows sensitivity and injects romance as well as intimacy, but it’s the sum of what we have to go on to understand the characters and the risks being taken, so the potential impact misses the mark. Though admirably and warmly portrayed by Andrea Riseborough, the character of King’s girlfriend Marilyn Barrett is poorly developed, similar to the way female love interests are often portrayed in a film with a male lead. Having failed to set up the dangerous personal stakes Billie Jean was facing to risk having a same sex relationship at this time in history, the scenes about her relationship with hairdresser Marilyn Barrett fall short.

Understanding the risks and consequences experienced by real people at that time would have injected suspense and drama into the subplot. You have to watch very closely to catch onto the point that Billie Jean is actually married to a man at this time. It’s glossed over. We don’t know the character of Billie Jean at all beyond her star athlete persona when the movie starts, and we only know slightly more by the end credits.

Beyond the extremely well done costumes and production design, there’s no context given that pulls us into the sexually repressed, misogynist world of the early 1970s. And if, as a filmmaker, you don’t take us to the oppressive place where this story happens, you’ve lost us. Why? Because, in an “overcoming obstacles” story like this one, context is everything. We have to know where these characters are and exactly what they are up against before we can care about cheering them on.

The pivotal moment when an adolescent King first caught a passion to change things for women and minorities in tennis is only hinted at in passing. I realize this is not a miniseries, but give us more than that, please. She’s spoken about it in several interviews over the years when, at the age of 12, she looked around and thought “Where is everybody else? Where are the people of color?” She wanted to shine a light on the elitism in the world of tennis. She “made herself a promise,” she said, “to do something about it.” That’s dynamite, dramatic substance, and it really happened. It gives us insight into the heart of this iconic leader. This point along with so much more, Billie Jean’s straight life, her relationship with her parents and husband, is merely a footnote in this film.

Emma Stone uses everything she’s given to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat on this one, and I can see her struggling as an actor against the the script, to bring us into Billie Jean’s inner life and heart. Without her strong performance of this sub-par screenplay, along with a few others like Steve Carell, Sarah Silverman, and Alan Cumming who give nuanced and emotional portrayals, the film is completely unwatchable. Cumming’s final scene in the film is particularly moving, and Beaufoy gives Carell much more to work with. We see Riggs interacting with others in his personal life in a variety of well-written and artfully directed scenes. We’re told nothing about Billie Jean’s husband Larry King. Like Marilyn, Rosie, and the other women athletes, he’s presented as a flat stereotype. Carell’s scenes with his wife (played by Oscar Winner Elisabeth Shue) portray the struggling, strained relationship in the aging tennis player’s marriage. In many ways, the film makes us care more about his struggles and triumphs than Billie Jean’s. Ironic, right?

Women and the LGBTQ community still need allies. Many people do not understand our cause; some are apathetic, or are outright enemies of our equality. So more than anything, this film misses the chance to have a huge impact on our culture to affect changes we would all love to see in our lifetimes.

Overall, I felt delightfully hopeful about seeing this movie. I wanted to marvel at its ground-breaking courage and applaud its relevance in giving us historical context to understand the heroes who laid so many foundations for the rest of us. We’re winning the battle, but we still have a lot of people in this country who could become vocal allies if they can be somehow swayed by emotional and personal connection, which is what we’re supposed to have as audience members. Hampered by writing, directing or both; “Battle of the Sexes” is a stellar film they didn’t make.

We highly recommend you read more about the fascinating personalities surrounding this historic time in women’s sports. To find out more about Billie Jean King and her work as an activist, look for the 2006 Peabody Award winning HBO documentary “Billie Jean King: Portrait of a Pioneer.” What did you think of “Battle of the Sexes?” Let us know in the comments below!

Originally posted 2017-10-07 18:33:21.

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Pennywise is not a gay icon #SorrynotSorry

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Okay, listen up gang, we need to have a serious talk that I’m still kind of in shock we’re having in 2017 but here we go. Pennywise from the novel and movie It should not be your gay icon. There, I said it. The lovely people on the internet have “decided” that “Pennywise is Gay and He’s Dating the Babadook”. An odd coupling, and what’s more than a bit puzzling is that THAT’S an acceptable ship yet Albus Potter and Scorpius Malfoy are only “friends” but okayyyy.  

This whole thing got started when Netflix accidentally listed The Babadook in their LGBT movies section and the internet just kinda rolled with it. Which is fine, because the joke is there and we know the joke has a “root” to it and the Babadook is relatively harmless. Pennywise being gay is just coming randomly from the sewer.

Now, I know what you’re thinking, “Oh Elle, stop being such a downer, let the internet have their fun. They’re celebrating LGBTQ representation in their own way, isn’t that a good thing?”

Not in this case. Allow me, Ellen “Professional party pooper,” to explain how calling Pennywise gay is actually incredibly homophobic, queer coding, and hurts the community as a whole as it fights for real representation.

1) A harmful reminder of past LGBTQ stereotypes

For the folks at home who have not read or seen Stephen King’s It, it’s a story about an evil clown by the name of Pennywise who terrorizes several children by exploiting their fears and phobias. Because Stephen King likes to give his readers the warm and fuzzies. Pennywise likes to target young children, mainly boys, and preys on them. He also kills people. Basically, Pennywise is a child predator. There is an old stereotype that has unfortunately not yet died that gay men can’t be trusted around male children. This is completely and utterly untrue and horribly hurtful. Having people come to this conclusion brings up that harmful stereotype, which goes back to John Wayne Gacy AKA the “Killer Clown,” who in the 70’s sexually assaulted, tortured, and murdered 33 teenaged boys. Going even further than that, this stereotype has tormented gay and bisexual men’s lives so much so that they are oftentimes not hired to teach at schools, work with children, and have a much harder time adopting. By saying that Pennywise is gay, you are not only indirectly saying that gays are pedophiles, but you are also mocking the struggles that gay men have to endure because of this stereotype.

2) This goes against Stephen King’s intent.

Here’s a little writing backstory for y’all.  Let me introduce you to Charlie Howard. Charlie Howard moved to Bangor, Maine during the early 80’s and was an out and proud gay man. Because of this he was heavily discriminated against. He was yelled slurs on the street, openly assaulted and his own cat was found strangled on his front porch. In 1984 while leaving a potluck with a friend, Charlie was chased down by a carload of teenagers who beat him, called him slurs and threw him over a bridge where he then drowned. Charlie was 23 years old. The murderers did not do any jail time for this crime. Does this seem familiar? This is what happens to Adrian Mellon in It. Stephen King said that this hate crime woke him up to the violence that the LGBTQ community faces. It/Pennywise’s enjoyment of tormenting Adrian and his boyfriend sends the message that the homophobic murder of an innocent gay man is an act of pure evil. Pennywise is not a gay icon, he’s a homophobic murderer.

3) We should want more out of our gay icons.

I get it, we have very few LGBTQ characters in the media. All the characters we love either die in the “Bury your gays” trope, are represented only through stereotypes, or we just get queer-baited. But gosh, gang, can’t we do better than a clown as a gay icon? Don’t we deserve more than horror villains representing us? Instead of accepting this silly meme, we should be demanding more LGBTQ characters in our entertainment. We should have more options than just villains and human sacrifices. Let me repeat this loud and clear: We need to see LGBTQ people as people. WE NEED TO SEE LGBTQ PEOPLE AS PEOPLE.

Representation is important, both the lack of it and what the media allows us to have.

We all deserve better than a clown.

Originally posted 2017-09-27 12:51:42.

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The Best Street Wear Looks From NYFW

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It’s both the most wonderful time of the year and the saddest time of the year, folks: New York Fashion Week is over. Smile because it happened, don’t cry because it’s over – or something like that. Usually taking place between September 7 – September 15, NYFW is one of the biggest – if not the absolute largest- fashion event on the planet. Celebrities, models, fashion designers, ateliers, socialites, reporters, TV anchors, bloggers, reality stars, and paparazzi fly in from all over the world to cover the event to see who is wearing what, and who is snubbing who. But now, as we head rush headlong into October, fashion week is officially over and done, and we definitely have the post-glitz-and-glam blues.

But never fear – we at TravelPride get it. We know you need your daily dose of extra, and we’ve provided it for you in the form of delicious New York streetwear photos to inspire your Casual Friday outfit, your I-just-threw-this-old-thing-on-to-run-errands-in outfit, or your I-only-use-the-HER-app date night outfit. Read on to discover how you can turn NYC streetwear into oh-so-youwear:

Fur coats

Christine Centenera at NYFW 2017

Fur coats were, of course, all the rage once again this year, as demonstrated by Christine Centenera above. The Fashion Editor of Vogue Australia is donning a black-and-white coat, perfect for the fall season, with skinny jeans, a casual gray tee, and black heeled boots with metallic accents on the toes – the perfect casual-yet-glam ensemble, whether you’re heading into a fashion show or to the grocery store.

Bold 90s-inspired looks

A person on the streets of NYC

The nineties are back, baby, and it looks like they’re here to stay, with fashionistas not shying away from bold, bright jackets, baggy pants, and colored hair. This nuwave grunge look is very now, as chic guys and gals mix prints, crop tops, and chokers – but in a happier, more colorful way.

All About Accessories

Fashionistas show off accessories during NYFW

You know the quote supposedly made by Coco Chanel that states, “Before you leave the house, look in the mirror, and take one thing off”? Well, in 2017, it looks like Coco may have been wrong. NYC streetwear favors the accessories-bold – we’re seeing plenty of hats, visible hair pieces, big bags, and technology. Everything is extra right now, and we can’t get enough.

Babes in Boots

Showing off a bright purse and killer boots during NYFW

Fall is everyone’s favorite season for a reason, and that reason is that it’s finally sweater/scarf/boot weather. Boots in particular were popping up all over the streets of NYC during Fashion Week, lending to a generally more comfortable vibe. Pain may be beauty, but it doesn’t have to be all of the time, and we love that high-end designers and fashionistas alike seem to be embracing the comfort trend without sacrificing chicness.

Hopefully, this small sampling gives you plenty of ideas heading into fall to [pumpkin] spice up your wardrobe. Until then, there’s always next year, when NYFW is sure to bring even more cool, It-Boy-or-Girl styles to the streets.

Originally posted 2017-09-26 12:35:32.

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