Metro Detroit theatergoers have a choice to make this weekend when it comes to attending a production with LGBT themes and characters. Besides the recently opened “The Little Dog Laughed” at Ferndale’s Ringwald Theatre, two of the area’s newest theater companies launch shows Aug. 19 and 20 that should be of interest to the LGBT community and our allies: “Bare: A Pop Opera” by Dynamic Stage Productions and “Hot Summer De(z)ire” by art4artillery Theatre Company.
To find out more about these new companies and their shows, Between The Lines spoke with Jami Krause of Dynamic Stage productions and Kyle Holton of art4artillery (who also tackles an unusual role in his company’s production).
art4artillery has a rather unusual, yet very intriguing show scheduled to open Aug. 19, “Hot Summer De(z)ire,” which is a mash-up of three of Tennessee Williams’ best known works. How did this idea come about?
Kyle: I love the term mash-up! It’s so simple, and yet it is a relevant description of the evolution music, or in our case theater, goes through. I’m basically a bad-ass theater DJ. The idea derives from so many different schools of theater theory that it took me nearly 30 pages to fully write about in my honor’s thesis that I developed for Wayne State University.
How difficult was it to weave “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” “Suddenly, Last Summer” and “A Streetcar Named Desire” together into a sensible whole?
Kyle: I think people will be very surprised at how well these works truly complement each other and speak to one single truth. Tennessee Williams was so tortured by sexuality and desire that it resonates in his most influential and compelling works. The hardest part is cutting down what is important to the plot and what isn’t.
If there’s an overall message to the work, what is it? And why should our readers check it out?
Kyle: I want the audience to decide what that single truth is. I think people should check it out if they have any stake in the current discussion on the homosexual community and where we stand in regards to our history, our culture and our future. Whatever your opinions, it’s sure to spark some good conversation.
Jami, your summer show is the Detroit-area premiere of “Bare: A Pop Opera,” which is a contemporary rock musical. What’s the show about – and why was this particular show chosen to produce this summer?
Jami: “Bare” is a contemporary rock musical, a coming-of-age story that focuses on a group of high school seniors at a Catholic boarding school. As they struggle to come to terms with who they are, and who the world thinks they should be, they seek answers in the church confessional and in less formal venues including a stage, a rave and ultimately, from within themselves.
I suspect most gay and lesbian teenagers struggle with their religious beliefs and how they fit into the church or synagogue in which they were raised. How is this addressed in the show, and how accurate do you believe it is in addressing the issue?
Jami: This story is in no way meant to condemn the Catholic church or organized religion as a whole, but is critical of adults who inadvertently lead teens to self-destructive ends. That is the main issue raised in this show. Teenagers are looking for love and acceptance from family, friends and religious leaders.
What’s the overall message to “Bare: A Pop Opera”?
Jami: Both myself and Paul think a line that Sister Chantelle offers Peter best sums it up: “If you hide from yourself, be someone else for someone else’s sake. That would be the greatest mistake.” That is a message not just for the LGBT community, but for everyone.
‘Bare: A Pop Opera’
Dynamic Stage Productions at Riverside Arts Center, 76 N. Huron St., Ypsilanti. 8 p.m. Aug. 19-21 and 2 p.m. Aug. 22. $18. http://www.D2productions.org
‘Hot Summer De(z)ire’
art4artillery Theatre Company at Russell Industrial Center, 1600 Clay Street, Bldg. 4, 3rd Floor, Detroit. 8:30 p.m. Aug. 19-22, 27, 29. Free; admission by donation. 248-914-5327. http://www.kyleholton.com