A New Play Sharing Stories from a 6,000-Mile Walk for LGBTQ Equality
From Alan Bounville’s 6,000-mile walk across the USA for gender and sexual orientation equality, comes the new interview-based play, Can We Come to the Table? - Stories About Gender Identity, Gender Expression, & Sexual Orientation. The play includes meticulously transcribed stories with people Bounville met along his walking journey.
“Walking was a transformational experience. But even more amazing were the people I met along the way. These folks, who live in some of the toughest places in the country to be LGBTQ or Allied, are heroic in their every day lives. I wanted to honor their stories. And Can We Come to the Table? does just that,” says Bounville about the play.
The stories are transcribed from video-conferenced interviews Bounville did with people after completing his walk in February of 2013. And they span a variety of subjects seen through the lens of LGBTQ or Allied experience. Stories in the play include same-gender rape, the suicide of a boyfriend that happened right outside of an interview subject’s house, becoming homeless as a queer youth, coming out as transgender to one’s mother, losing one’s husband to AIDS, what it is like to organize for LGBTQ rights, being at Stonewall the day after the 1969 riots had ended, and many more.
One of the play’s subjects, CeCe Finley Garrett, an LGBTQ Ally and Affirming Minister living in southern Mississippi, becomes the main voice that is threaded throughout the whole production. CeCe’s stories run the spectrum from tragic to triumphant to outlandish. In one story, she abruptly leaves a hair salon when the hairdresser, while straightening her hair, told her that she and the “fags” she takes into her church are going to hell. CeCe takes us on a whirlwind journey, scalp ablaze, across Hattiesburg trying to find a salon that can rinse out her hair. She finds one salon that is open. It turns out the salon owner has a child who is transgender.
In the play, transcribed in the script as literal as possible, CeCe concludes her story with, “You know. N, ahso that was nice. It was nice ta, ta have a connection. And for her da know tht somebody in Hattiesburg cares enough ta leave a salon, when, when there is bigotry. So she enjoyed it. But I- itws itws, it was a special moment. I did not enjoy it.”
The play is currently in rehearsals with its World Premiere Production to take place in New York City in June 2014. On Monday, February 17, In Our Words Project is launching an Indiegogo Campaign to help raise the funds needed to bring Can We Come to the Table? to its fully staged production. The campaign can be found here: www.canwecometothetable.com.
“Theatre is powerful. Shared stories have the power to create community, dialogue, and a greater awareness of self and other. Interview theatre is especially exceptional and delicate in this way, because it carries the undeniable truth of another tangible human being’s experience,” says Khristal Curtis, the actor portraying CeCe Finley Garrett in this production.
In Our Words Project is an interview-based theatre company in New York City. We interview people on myriad topics and construct full-length plays from stories told to us in these interviews. Our plays are performed in traditional theatre venues and in community and public spaces. The organization also offers Interview Theatre Residencies with organizations both inside and outside of New York City.
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