Briefs took the St. Louis theater scene by storm last year. But its effects are being felt as far as the Deep South.
Georgia State University theatre program committee chair and senior lecturer Frank Miller is planning to stage his own short play festival, after having been inspired by the idea of Briefs in August 2012 while in Washington D.C.
“Joan Lipkin did a session on it - a panel on staging the 10 minute gay play festival at the last meeting of the Association for Theatre in Higher Education,” Miller said. “I was intrigued by the idea and she showed a clip from one of the pieces she’d done and I thought it was really good. And I started thinking about it for our school.”
Miller says that a combination of things led him to stage his own short play festival.
“Every other summer, I direct the summer show at Georgia State,” he said. “It’s been getting a little difficult each summer because we never know how many students are going to be there, how many students are going to be in the program. So she described a way you can really make a very flexible production on a very simple level. When you’re doing five or six intimate plays you can’t have a set for each one. So you encourage the audience to use their imaginations.”
Miller isn’t worried about any protest that may occur at the festival, saying that despite Georgia State’s conservative elements, the university’s location (Atlanta) pushes back with a liberal audience and views.
“Atlanta is the liberal heart of Georgia. We are the blue area in the midst of a big, red state,” Miller explained. “And of course, politically, we’re the blue area that supports the big red state because we generate the most tax money. The university is not super conservative - we’re sometimes on the firing line from conservative elements in the state government. I’ve only had one student walk out of a show the entire time I’ve been here. I’ve had students complain about homophobic statements from students and professors. Most of my students are very open about gay material and gay subjects. Most of them are firm supporters of marriage equality.”
Miller’s festival is a marriage of what made Briefs work (the format of short plays) and finding original plays from playwrights in the U.S. and Canada.
“I just figure I didn’t want to take her plays and do them,” he said. “I put out a call for plays the first week of this year. We’ve got about 50, I’ve got a panel of maybe eight readers that are divvying them up. We’re going to put together their rankings, see what happens and try to do the top five or six.”
The play festival at Georgia State is set to tentatively take place the last week in July, yet the effects of Briefs are already being felt by the reading panel selecting the plays.
“When we did the panel there were one or two people who were questioning whether or not they could get away with it at their schools. My department chair has been very supportive. The support system’s been very good and I would hope more people would try this. It’s a great way to reach a diverse population.”
Briefs returns with all new material, February 28 - March 3, 2013 at La Perla. That Uppity Theatre Company, in partnership with Vital VOICE, will again produce a festival of 7 short LGBT plays. You will have the opportunity to see all these wonderful works in just 90 minutes at every show.
WHO - That Uppity Theatre Company & The Vital VOICE
WHAT – Briefs: A Festival of Short LGBT Plays
WHERE – La Perla (312 N. 8th Street, St. Louis, MO 63101)
WHEN – February 28 (Doors @ 7, Show @ 8:00pm)
March 1 (Doors @ 7, Show @ 8:00pm)
March 2, (Doors @ 2, Show @ 3 & Doors @ 7, Show @ 8)
March 3 (Doors @ 2, Show @ 3)
TICKETS – $15 Advance Tickets, $20 at the door
(can be purchased via Brown Paper Tickets: http://bit.ly/briefs13)
EVENT INFORMATION – (314) 995-4600
By MATT JAMIESON – STAFF WRITER
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