By D. A. Blackburn
Laurinda D. Brown knows a thing or two about creating steamy theater. And on July 25, she’s bringing the heat to Detroit’s annual black pride celebration, Hotter Than July, with her powerful breakout play.
“‘Walk Like a Man – The Play’ is an expression of lesbian thought, brought to the stage in very intricate, but intimate, performances; thought-provoking performances,” said Brown.
“It speaks to not any particular culture of lesbianism, but to women as a whole in the different relationships and the different issues that we go throughout our journey in this life – I don’t like to call it a lifestyle.”
The play, based on Brown’s Lambda Literary Award-winning book of the same name, grapples with a variety of heavy issues, ranging from same-sex domestic violence to religion and “don’t ask don’t tell.” But Brown and her five-woman cast have made it a point to include a generous dose of humor, and a significant helping of tasteful eroticism, to balance the work out.
“It all really has to do with the line-up. Each city has a different line-up. We switch them, you know. I wouldn’t put child sexual abuse and ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and the same-sex domestic violence all in the same act. You get an extremely comfortable balance of satire and intensity with the way we have it set up,” Brown said.
The author-turned-playwright also has taken care to tackle issues that others have shied away from. For Brown, “It’s about writing about the issues. It’s like when I first started watching ‘The L Word.’ I loved the issues that it tackled. However, there’s so many more within the black lesbian culture that were not addressed throughout that whole series that were very important. So I feel like we were forced to conform to what Hollywood presented to us and almost, in a sense, abandon what we know just to be able to watch the show and understand it and feel a part of this phenomenon.”
The production, which has previously appeared at the Charles H. Wright Museum of African American History, is booked for a single night at 1515 Broadway St. – an engagement that may well be the last opportunity for area audiences to see this emotionally-charged, lesbian-themed play as its creator intended.
“I’m just at a point now where I need a creative break, and an emotional break, and that’s why we’re stopping,” Brown said. “People don’t understand that this play is put on out of my pocket, and right now, my pocket has some pretty big holes. I’ve never really done it for the money. I’ve done it for the sheer enjoyment of it, and giving audiences something different to choose from at pride celebrations.
“I don’t think that I’ve ever lost belief or faith in what I do,” she continued. “I just think that the wear and tear on the wallet, and the spirit, it actually has come to a point where I’m not going to say I’m not going to do any more shows; I’m just not going to do this one.”
But despite a desire to wind the show down, Brown is very aware of the impact “Walk Like A Man – The Play” has had. “I tell the actresses all the time they should be very grateful, because everyone does not get the same response that we get.”
The run comes to an end in October, but in that time it’s sure to touch a few more lives.
‘Walk Like a Man – The Play’
Positive Scribe Productions at 1515 Broadway Theatre
8 p.m. July 25
1515 Broadway St., Detroit
$25 advance, $35 at the door