Words of pride, debate, identity & relationships in funny, moving & thoughtful Gay Play Day

GayPlayDay2014logoSpent an enjoyable afternoon at the theatre yesterday, for the fourth annual Gay Play Day, which had moved to a temporary home at Fraser Studios this year, as their original home in the Alumnae Theatre studio was booked up (A.D. Darren Stewart-Jones says they’ll be back at Alumnae next year).

Gay Play Day is an annual festival of short LGBTQ plays, and this year’s program featured eight plays (running 10-15 minutes each), some of which had been previously produced. Here’s what was on the playground for Gay Play Day 2015:

Homosexually Correct (by Mark Keller, directed and performed by Mark Keller and Cody Ray). Out and proud manifesto versus politically correct manual in this hilarious and thought-provoking debate on acceptable words to use when referencing members of the LGBTQ2SA community. Flamboyantly fabulous young actor Cody (Ray) is trying to get through his monologue, a personal shout out to his gay identity. Thing is, the overly proper and fastidious Mr. Roi (Keller) keeps interrupting him, thrusting the correctness manual on him in order to revise his text. Is it okay for a gay man to use the “F word”?

Say the Words (written and performed by Tina McCulloch, directed by PJ Hammond). Saw this lovely, poignant and wistful solo piece when it was first produced at Alumnae Theatre’s New Ideas Festival in 2013 (directed by Kimberley Radmacher, performed by Alexandra Manea). Reminiscences, remembrances and regrets – nicely performed by the playwright.

Invisible (by Johnny Salib). Friends Abbey (Claudia Carino) and Brett (Salib) go from good-natured to heated debate and back again as they discuss the bisexual experience and the struggle for the “B” in LGBTQ to establish identity in an ‘either or’ social mindset. Full of sharpness, sass and hurt.

The ___ Wedding (written and directed by Josh Downing). Alex’s mom (Sandra Cardinal) won’t attend his wedding, and when he (Daniel Pupella) and fiancé Craig (Adam Malcolm) meet with her to get her to reconsider, Craig is surprised to learn why she won’t come. A funny and interesting discussion on the necessity of a wedding (given its historical origins) ensues. Great, imaginative staging with the two grooms atop a wedding cake at the top and the bottom of the play.

Save the Date (by Caity-Shea Violette, directed by Josh Downing). I saw this – and loved it – when it premiered at the InspiraTO Festival earlier this year, where it won the 2015 People’s Choice Award. A lovely two-hander, where estranged former lovers Emily (Amanda Pereira) and Andrea (Marissa Spada) meet on the morning just hours before Andrea’s wedding to a man.

Stranger Night (written and directed by Philip Cairns). Two strangers Gary (Andy H. Cameron) and Tasha (Carmin McConnell) meet one night in a laundromat and get into a sharply funny and eye-opening discussion on sex work, show business and queer identity. Is it professionally safe for an actor to come out of the closet – especially if he/she identifies as bi?

Homeschool Dropout (written and performed by Adam Bryan). Originally produced in the Gallery Mini-series at the 2015 Hamilton Fringe Festival, this is a quirky, fun solo show about a likeable guy just trying to be himself and find a place to fit in while surviving life’s bullies and haters.

The Book of Daniel (by Lawrence Aronovitch, directed by Bri Waters). Premiered at the 2013 Extremely Short Play Festival at the New Theatre of Ottawa. The Gay Play Day matinée performance was cancelled as one of the actors was unavailable. Audience members were invited to return for the evening performance, which I wasn’t able to attend due to a prior commitment.

However, I received a link to a video of the play from the playwright this morning and was able to watch it tonight. A memory play, a young Jewish man named Daniel (Brandon Szabo) struggles with math class and his widowed mother’s concerns about his social life under the watchful eye of his motherly math teacher Mrs. Cohen (Hilary Wilson). His chats with his father-like mentor Rabbi Stern (Mark Willett) open his mind and his world, and he finds himself looking back at those talks as crucial to his journey to come into himself. A wistful, yet hopeful story, with some nice, honest performances from the cast.

With shouts to technical director PJ Hammond, who kept an eye on things from the booth, and backstage assistant Henry Keeler, who helped with the scene changes.

Words of pride, debate, identity and relationships in funny, moving and thoughtful Gay Play Day 2015.

Gay Play Day closed last night; it has a very short run (3 performances – 2 evening and 1 matinée), so keep an eye out for them at Alumnae Theatre this time next year. Give the festival a follow on Twitter and a like on Facebook.

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