REVIEW | The F*IT Club is back with their 8th annual Spring Fling, and you should catch it now
For some people, Spring is the time where they fnially shed their winter wardrobe and take a day in the park.
For F*IT Club, it's their time to put on eccentric theatre that will make your brain feel funny. Now in its 8th year, the F*IT Club Spring Fling is currently in full force, showcasing an evening of short one-acts carefully curated on a single topic. This year's theme: Chemistry. Playwrights are given the theme, and then allowed the liberty to take it to logical or illogical extremes. The results this year held a few surprises, some standouts, and never failed to be fascinating.
Erica Saleh's play Contemplation invites it's characters and its audience to take a moment to consider their own death. It's characters, with the help of an app, acknowledge that life is finite and that all things must pass away to nothing. With the aid of an able cast (composed of Mara Kassin and Richard Prioleau), Saleh and director Rachel Dart were able to put together a light-hearted and straightforwardly philosophical perspective on the inevitable. The play dealt with the morbid, without slipping in to morbidity itself. A welcome feat.
Photo: Sean Fader
Henry, by Mario Correa, saw a former couple (Ceci Fernandez and Eric T Miller) reuniting unexpectedly on a street corner. A simple, honest, piece; it was a humorous, but real, look at the awkward moment when two people, who were once as close as anything, realize how far apart they've come. The piece toyed with a cosmic melancholy, allowing the audience to feel deeply for both parties, whilst also being able to laugh at the relatability of the situation.
Snackable Content, presented an insight in to the dynamic of two co-workers at a BuzzFeed-style internet content creation website. Written by Daniel McCabe, this one-act featured a strong back and forth of humorous jabs, as well as musings on the terminal stages of life, and of working relationships. The stars, Brett Epstein and Rosanny Zayas, really sell their characters, and their conversation feels bright and real.
In Imperfect and Important, Jahna Ferron-Smith took a dialectical approach to race relations in theatre. A black playwright from a middle-class background (Dana Scurlock) is arguing with her literary agent (Liz Leimkuhler) over the tone and subjects of her writing. She is being pushed to write in a more urban tone, with explicit social commentary weaved in to her narratives. She struggles to see why she should, making the point that her upbringing was far from urban, and she doesn't want to feel like she's pandering to a perception of black people that she doesn't represent. More importantly, she, and the play, ask the important question: why do people only understand black narratives in the context of black oppression?
Photo: Sean Fader
Cost/Benefit by Jon Kern presented a view of the workplace that some would call bizarre, others would call next level, and some would call creepy. A corporate spokesperson (Paula Pizzi) espouses the benefits of love in the workplace, assisted by her son (Cesar J. Rosado). She does this with two potential adopters of her methods (Emma Kikue and Monica Gonzalez). The whole thing ends in a game of hangman conducted by Lori Vega. Whilst well-intentioned, this play was the most confusing of the evening and struggled to leave a consistent message. It's multiple set changes also made its levels of context unclear, and gave the impression the play had ended prematurely. A noble effort all the same.
Possibly the most off-the-wall play of the evening was The Verjeena by Mara Nelson-Greenberg. In it, a mother (Dawn Evans) tries to explain the female vagina to her teenage son (Alton Alburo). He has immense difficulty grasping the fact that he could be wrong about anything, even when drawing the vagina as a chemistry set. As the play unfurls his claims at knowledge become more and more twisted and surreal. When challenged on his incorrect beliefs he (literally) dehumanizes his critics, and devolves into petty screaming. Behavior apparently modeled after his father. With its absurdist style, the play humorously makes a point about the willful ignorance of a patriarchal society, and the dangers of complicity with it.
Photo: Sean Fader
Finally, Detention by Amy Staats sees the time old story of boy meets… teacher. In detention, an educator (Allyson Morgan) attempts to push away the advances of her former lover (and current high school student) played by Adam Langdon. They are quickly joined by her husband (Federico Rodriguez), another student (Emma Orme), and eventually a police officer (Emma Kikue). The scene is a gradual comedic devolution, where maturity is up for grabs and all morals are relative. Whilst the play doesn't seem to offer a concrete moral judgement on any of its characters (it feels conspicuous in its absence, particularly in the #metoo era), it does deliver on the laughs, and ends the evening on a decided high note.
Overall, another strong year for F*IT club, showcasing plays that one legitimately feels would not exist anywhere but here. More than that though, it should once again be stressed how few evenings of one-act plays are assembled with any sense of cohesion. Spring Fling categorically feels like it is put together with care, nuance, and with the aim to produce a night of plays that flow gracefully from one to the other, rather than zig-zagging across a wild spectrum of content, and quality, as most similar festivals do. Everything here is consistently enjoyable, comparable in its content, and creative in its presentation. Spring Fling: Chemistry, is sure to be a catalyst for your enjoyment.
Thomas Burns Scully is a PopDust contributor, and also an award-winning actor, playwright, and musician. In his spare time he writes and designs escape rooms. You can follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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Breaking down the bias of comfort films.
With the constant onslaught of complicated news that 2020 has brought, sometimes you just want to be able to shut off your brain, relax, and feel happy.
Enter comfort films. These are the feel-good movies that feel like a warm hug when you finish them, the ones that allow you to escape for a short while. We often turn to these types of films in times of trouble or extreme stress, and when we're not sure what films of this nature we should watch, we turn to the Internet for options.
Rivera's "Glee" character was not just important, she was groundbreaking.
As a young queer girl growing up in the south, I was lucky that my parents weren't homophobes.
My parents believed that people were sometimes born gay, and while they wouldn't "wish that harder life" on their children, they certainly made me and my sister believe that gay people were just as worthy of love as anyone else. I was lucky.
Still, in my relatively sheltered world of Northern Virginia (a rich suburb near Washington D.C.), homophobia wasn't as blatant as hate crimes or shouted slurs, but it was generally accepted that being straight was, simply, better.
In high school, it wasn't uncommon to use "gay" as an insult or for girls to tease each other about being "lez." While many of us, if asked, would have said we were in support of gay marriage and loved The Ellen Show, being gay remained an undesirable affliction.
Even more insidious, I was instilled with the belief—by my church and my peers—that if gay and lesbian people could be straight, they would. But since they were simply incapable of attraction to the opposite sex or fitting into traditional gender roles, we should accept them as they are as an act of mercy. At the time, this kind of pity seemed progressive and noble. Those in my close circle of family and friends weren't openly dismissive or condemning of gay people, but we saw homosexuality as a clear predisposition with no gray areas.
Specifically: Gay men talked with a lilt, giggled femininely, and were interested in things that weren't traditionally "masculine." Meanwhile, gay women dressed like men, had no interest in makeup or other traditionally female interests, and probably had masculine bodies and features. In my mind, before someone came out as gay, they did everything in their power to "try to be straight" but were eventually forced to confront the difficult reality that they felt no attraction at all to the opposite sex. I viewed homosexuality not as a spectrum, but as a black and white biological predisposition that meant you were thoroughly, completely, and pitiably gay.
As a child, when I began to experience stirrings of attraction for other girls, I would reassure myself that not only had I definitely felt attraction for men in the past, but I also liked being pretty. I was a tomboy as a child, sure, but as I got older I recognized that my value was increased in the eyes of society if I tried to be a pretty girl. As it turned out, I even liked putting on clothes that made me feel good, I liked applying makeup, and I liked some traditionally "feminine" things. In my mind, this meant that I couldn't be gay, because gay women didn't like "girl" stuff.
As a teenager, I began to learn more about the difference between gender and sexuality, and the fluidity of both. I began to let myself feel some of the long-suppressed feelings of queer desire I still harbored.
Still, in the back of my mind, the instilled certainty of sexuality as an extremely rigid thing sometimes kept me up at night. What if I was gay? Would I have to change the way I looked? Would I have to give up some of the things I liked? In my mind, being gay meant your sexuality was your whole identity, and everything else about you disappeared beneath the weight of it.
But then, Santana came out as gay on Glee.
GLEE - The Santana 'Coming Out Scene' www.youtube.com
If you didn't watch Glee, than you might not know the importance of Naya Rivera's character to so many queer young women like myself. Santana was beautiful, she was popular, she had dated boys, she was feminine, she was sexy, and she was gay. There's even evidence that Santana had previously enjoyed relationships with men.
But the character came out anyways, not because she had to or because it was obvious to everyone around her that she was gay, but because her attraction to women was an aspect of her identity she was proud of. It wasn't an unfortunate reality she simply had to make the best of; it was an exciting, beautiful, aspect of her identity worth celebrating.
Before Santana, it had never really come home for me that being gay wasn't an entire identity—that it wasn't an affliction or disorder, but just another part of a person. She also didn't suddenly start wearing flannels or cutting her hair after coming out. She was the same feminine person she had always been. I had never realized that being a gay woman didn't have to look a certain way. Santana and Brittany's gay storyline showed two femme-presenting women in love, and for me, that was a revolution.
If it wasn't for Naya Rivera, we may never have had that important story line.
"It's up to writers, but I would love to represent [the LGBTQ community] because we know that there are tons of people who experience something like that and it's not comical for them in their lives," Rivera told E! News in 2011. "So I hope that maybe we can shed some light on that."
While Rivera herself wasn't gay (the importance of casting gay actors in gay roles is a separate conversation), she understood how important her character was to the queer community. "There are very few ethnic LGBT characters on television, so I am honored to represent them," Rivera told Latina magazine in 2013. "I love supporting this cause, but it's a big responsibility, and sometimes it's a lot of pressure on me."
Rivera wasn't just a supporter of the LGBTQ+ community on screen. In 2017, she wrote a "Love Letter to the LGBTQ Community" for Billboard's Pride Month. In it, she wrote, "We are all put on this earth to be a service to others and I am grateful that for some, my Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays may have given a little light to someone somewhere, who may have needed it. To everyone whose heartfelt stories I have heard, or read I thank you for truly enriching my life."
Now, as we mourn the loss of Naya Rivera, at least we can take comfort in knowing that her legacy will live on—that the light her Cheerios ponytail and sassy sashays gave us won't go out any time soon.
Excuse me, I have to go weep-sing-along to Rivera's cover of landslide now.
Glee - Landslide (Full Performance + Scene) 2x15 youtu.be
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