Saturday, March 11, 2017
This week for the LAMBDA Litfest I chose to attend the panel at the West Hollywood Library entitled, “Gay Theater: It’s History and It’s Future” where several prominent playwrights and screenwriters in the LGBTQ community came together to discuss theater and how they emerged into the world of it. I personally enjoyed most hearing about each of their backgrounds and where they came from since each seemed to be so different from the next. It truly showed that you can emerge into any field if only you persevere at it, even if it was not something you were raised in. Three of the speakers that I especially enjoyed were Michael Kearns, Dee Jay Cox and Mary Casey. Though all were exceptional, one even being an alumni of UCLA.
Michael Kearns discussed his biggest influencer being Arthur Miller and that it was until 1989 that he emerged into the playwright scene. That was when he wrote a play about HIV/AIDS from an intimate perspective, breaking away from the victimized narrative. Mary Casey works for the LGBTQ center in Los Angeles and is a co-founder of the Ivy Theater. She is an award-winning recipient including the Butcher Scholar Award and wasn’t exposed to literary theater until later in life. She didn’t get her start until a friend of a friend introduced her to a woman who wanted to invest in a piece and provided her 20,000 dollars to create a play. This play ended up going to my hometown in Santa Cruz, which I found very interesting. Dee Jay Cox said that she had always been a writer, and joked at the panel that she had in fact been born writing. She founded the LA Women’s Theater Project and as of 20 years ago had never written a play. She fell in love with theater when joining Mary Casey’s Ivy Theater. It was nice to see a connection between the speaker’s histories, and with each of them you could tell the passion they had for theater. It was a great event, and each speaker brought their own story and history with them which gave a multitude of perspectives of theater in the LGBTQ community.