This past Monday, Nov. 7, The Vineyard Playhouse participated in a nationwide awareness-raising event. The local theater was among approximately 50 theaters to simultaneously present a series of short plays with the theme of gay marriage.
The Playhouse was the only venue in Massachusetts, the first state to legalize same-sex marriage, where the plays were performed. The program, titled “Standing on Ceremony: the Gay Marriage Plays,” was presented in 25 states (with one performance in Canada) concurrently with opening night at New York’s Minetta Lane Theater.
The evening started off with a simulcast, projected on The Playhouse’s movie screen, of an introduction from the Minetta Lane Theater, where a few of the people involved in the project spoke briefly. Members of the New York cast presented a $5,000 check to the organization Freedom to Marry, a coalition committed to winning and keeping the freedom to marry for same-gender couples. Currently same-sex marriages are legal in six states. Participants in the nationwide event were encouraged to oppose the Defense of Marriage Act through a letter-writing campaign.
After the short simulcast, the 11 micro-plays were performed as readings by a group of local actors and community members. Most of the cast were familiar to Island stages as regulars in Vineyard productions, but there were a couple of surprises. Lauren Martin and Alan Ganapol provided very strong performances. They joined veteran actors Jamie Alley, Christopher Brophy, Nicole Galland, Jill Macy, Jihan Ponti, Maurice Reidy, Molly Purves, and Christopher Roberts in taking turns with the vignetttes.
The 10-minute plays were written by some of America’s most illustrious playwrights who, among them, have two Pulitzer Prizes, four Obies (Off-Broadway awards), one Emmy, and three Tony nominations. The material ran from comedy to a sad drama by Neil LaBute concerning a hate crime, but most were joyful glimpses into relationships that just happened to be between gay men or women. There was nothing preachy or heavy-handed in any of the material.
The small but appreciative audience on Monday night was treated to some exceptionally tight, and often humorous little plays with great dialogue and excellent acting. Some of the more outrageously funny scenes concerned a ultra-liberal mother pressuring her gay son to find a man, and a televangelist and his wife attempting to justify a gay scandal. Two very touching scenes concerned men recalling their deceased partners.
The evening concluded with a Q&A in which members of the satellite audiences could pose questions to the playwrights via Twitter.