I saw some of the best drama I've seen in ages - and the actors were all kids.
The show was called "Prop 8 Love Stories," presented by Cinnabar Theater. The actors are between the ages of 10 and 17. They interviewed couples, gay and straight, about their relationships, and then presented a montage of the results.
One of the things that was fascinating is that the actors’ genders do not necessarily match the genders of those they interviewed, so a boy may portray a lesbian, a girl a gay man, a girl a straight rabbi father….
Although the couples are mixed, they all have a gay connection. The rabbi and his wife have a gay son. A young woman engaged to be married to a young man talks about the process she went through when her father came out as a gay man. And then there are lesbian moms, gay dads, everything else. It’s fascinating.
The project is the brain child of creator/director Brian Glenn Bryson, but it is co-written and directed by 14-year-old Dezi Gallegos (who also acts in it, wonderfully!), and there is original music, composed by 16-year-old Audrey Maye Tatum, with choreographed dancing, so there are some elements of music theater, as well.
The interviews examined the dynamics of couples, families, coming out stories, fear and discrimination, the Prop 8 battle, death and religion, weddings, and ended with a section on "hope."
These kids beautifully and tellingly explored what it is like to be in a relationship completely unlike their own life experiences - since they were portraying, in some cases, an 80 year old man, or a dad with three kids, or two moms talking about how they met. If only those in the cast were changed, this kind of theater would be worthwhile; those teens (and pre-teens) have learned something they will never forget.
But of course, their message is going much further, as they stand on stage with their words of compassion and fear, bewilderment and hope, yearning and dreams. This is the sort of drama that should get extended runs, playing to audiences around the country, with kids from Kansas and Louisiana and Alaska taking on these roles. This is about opening hearts, one audience member, one cast member, at a time.
We went with a group of friends to see it performed at the Glaser Center in Santa Rosa (the Unitarian Church). The kids also performed at Fort Mason in San Francisco.
It is showing again in Petaluma on the weekend of July 16 and 17 at Cinnabar Theater. If you happen to have either of those nights free, and live close enough by - get a ticket and go. You'll be glad you did.