WATCH: Holcombe Waller relives memories with his boyfriend in new video

With the snow days over the last week, we have lots of e-mails to catch up on. I’m so glad I was paying attention today before deleting a slew of people needing legal assistance.This video almost slipped through the cracks and it’s become my find of the day.

Despite an accomplished background, I had not heard of Holcombe Waller until today. Turns out, he’s had this pretty colorful life and career with three solo albums to his name and scored the documentary We Were Here: Voices from the AIDS Years in San Francisco which is a 2011 Sundance official selection.

His newest album, Into the Dark Unknown drops on Tuesday. But it’s his video for ‘”Bored of Memory” which I find rather enchanting — mostly from the P.R.’s write up:

For this video, Holcombe decided to recreate the first date he had with his boyfriend Blake in the summer of 2009. Waller and co-director Rose headed out to Rooster Rock State Park in the Columbia River Gorge. Lewis and Clark originally named the area “Cock Rock” because of the phallic nature of the basalt stone obelisk that stands on the Oregon side of the river.

To recreate the date, Holcombe and Alicia filmed two actors as they went to the exact locations that Holcombe and Blake visited on their first date. Alicia and Holcombe brought along with them some of the items from the day: a vacation camping blanket, a few apples, knitting supplies and a vintage copy of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám,” given to Holcombe by his grandmother.  The rhinestone necklace the actors find in the sand was also a family heirloom passed down from his grandmother from her days as a traveling dancer in the 1940s and 50s.

Holcombe said that it represents “the discovery of something both new and ancient, real and illusory, and as beautiful as you make it, much like new love.”

Romantic, right? I’m seriously kinda swept off my feet right now. The song is epic and languid, but the video accompanies it perfectly and perfect timing for V-Day. And, if you go here, you can download the song for free. Score!


—  Rich Lopez

Thinking 2 steps ahead

Theologians, ministers gather at Brite for ‘Beyond Apologetics’ discussion on LGBTs’ future role in religious communities, efforts

Tammye Nash  |  Senior Editor nash@dallasvoice.com

Joretta Marshall and Stephen Sprinkle
Joretta Marshall and Stephen Sprinkle

FORT WORTH — Where do we go from here? That’s the question at the heart of a project called “Beyond Apologetics: Sexual Identity, Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Practices,” an ongoing symposium with its next installment set for Thursday, Oct. 7, at Brite Divinity School at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth.

The event will feature six scholars and pastors, representing five different schools, talking about new ways of thinking about ministry with LGBT people after the battle for acceptance is over.

“Originally, this project was organized to do two things,” explained the Rev. Joretta Marshall, openly lesbian pastor of theology and pastoral care and counseling at Brite and co-director of the project.

“The first thing was to bring scholar practitioners together for conversation to try and answer the question, ‘What would we be talking about if we didn’t always have to focus on gaining acceptance of TLGB people” in churches, Marshall said.

“We want to go beyond defending TLGB people in the churches and start figuring out what those next conversations will be about. For instance, I am hopelessly involved in the United Methodist Church. It is in my blood and in my bones. But there is still a debate within the UMC over whether we [LGBT people] should be welcomed into the church. We want to get past that so that we can work on transforming the world, on bringing justice to the larger community.”

The second piece of the equation, Marshall said, was equally important: “Educational institutions should make a difference in the places where they live. We wanted to invite the community in to participate in these discussions and to let them know that Brite is a place where we talk about these things.”

For the Rev. Stephen Sprinkle, the openly gay associate professor of practical theology and director of field education and supervised ministry at Brite, the idea that a theology school in Fort Worth, Texas is host to such a discussion, is an amazing accomplishment.

“We’ve never had a gathering of LGBTQ scholars of faith in Texas before. Not like this,” said Sprinkle, one of the six speakers participating in the Oct. 7 discussion.

“This is the first meeting of its kind here, but it won’t be the last. That was the experience that we had in Oklahoma” last February when the first discussion in the project was held at Phillips Graduate Theological Seminary in Tulsa. He explained that the project was first conceived as a partnership between the two sister seminaries — Phillips and Brite — and six speakers participated in a public event held at Phillips that followed the same format to be used at Brite.

The whole idea, Sprinkle said, is to plan for the future and prepare pastors, churches and the public for the day when LGBT people are already part of the church and can truly give their own unique gifts to its efforts.

“We are thinking two steps on down the road. We’re thinking outside the box, to use the cliché. The question is, if we are not having to constantly think about creating space enough for the LGBT community to be accepted, then we can think about how to move the LGBTQ community into a richer, more whole position to contribute to the church’s work.”

The term “apologetics” refers to advocacy, Sprinkle explained. In thinking “beyond apologetics,” he continued, “what we are saying, as LGBT scholars, is that congregations and nonprofits already have everything they need in order to include LGBT people. They already have the know-how, the theology. We believe the arguments for inclusion have already been made, and made very well. The question now is, what do we do to take things to the next stage of development?”

In his part of the discussion, Sprinkle will focus on his work in documenting anti-LGBT hate crimes and in advocating for the passage of hate crimes laws that include protections for LGBT people. He used his own work and its future direction as an example of the focus of the project overall.

“We argued for years and years for a hate crimes law. We’ve got that now. But the reality is, we are still being killed. So what are we, as an LGBT community, going to do to understand who those dead are to us? How will that shape our identity?” Sprinkle said.

“We have to move beyond being just a loose association of people with a variety of concerns on a variety of issues to become a real people that remember and honor our dead. That is what a community does,” he continued.

“African-Americans can list their people who died in lynchings. Jewish folk have never forgotten the 6 million lost in the Holocaust. Japanese-Americans remember those who died in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. But we as an LGBT community seem to have a hard time even acknowledging that members of our community are still being killed. So what I am trying to do is to think down the road about how we can strengthen this community by remembering the thousands who were murdered because they were just like us.”

Another member of the project — although one who won’t be at the discussion next month at Brite — is Darnell Moore with Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. He is, Sprinkle said, “one of the most dynamic and most original thinkers I have ever seen.”

Moore’s focus, Sprinkle said, is finding a new way to think about coming out.

“People are often afraid to come out because it compromises them and they are vulnerable. What Darnell says is that it is time that we begin to invite people in, really invite them in, and have something to invite them in to. What would it really mean to say to the majority culture all around us, ‘Stop being tourists in our lives. We will share with you what we have, but you have to come to us.’

“Now we’re talking! Now we’re really thinking!” Sprinkle continued. “From now one, there won’t be just one National Coming Out Day a year. There won’t be one day of silence in the schools. From now on, the LGBTQ community can be seen as a powerhouse of innovation and creative thinking. We approach that already in the arts and entertainment. But we don’t seem to be secure enough or understand ourselves well enough to be confident doing that in other spheres.”

For Marshall and Sprinkle, the idea that such new ways of thinking are being birthed here in Fort Worth is reason for celebration, and for hope.

“I came here in 1994, and I was open and out [as a gay man] from the time I first showed up,” Sprinkle said. “But it has been a fight. Then when we decided to invite Joretta [to join the faculty] and she accepted, I knew we were turning a corner.

“This project represents a new era at Brite. Fort Worth is the reddest of the red in a red state. And here we are, co-hosting this powerhouse event, this first-of-a-kind academic gathering of people of faith, right under the nose of the Southwest Baptist Theological Seminary!

“It’s unbelievable in a way,” he said. “I still have to pinch myself to believe it’s real. But it is real. And it is a sign that the time is right to take these next steps.”

……………………………

‘Beyond Apologetics’

The Beyond Apologetics Project will hold a public symposium Thursday, Oct. 7, beginning at 7 p.m. in the Robert Carr Chapel at Texas Christian University, 2855 S. University Drive in Fort Worth.

The event is free and open to the public.

Scholars and pastors presenting their preliminary work at the discussion will include Duane R. Bidwell of Claremont School of Theology and co-director of the project; Kathleen Greider of Claremont School of Theology; Benjamin Reynolds of Chicago Theological Seminary; Jeanne Hoeft of St. Paul School of Theology; David Mellott of Lancaster Theological Seminary and Stephen V. Sprinkle of Brite Divinity School.

Other participants in the Beyond Apologetics Project are John Blevins with Emory University; United Church of Christ minister Malcolm Himschoot; Joretta Marshall of Brite Divinity School; Darnell Moore of Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey; Jason Hays of Brite Divinity School; Cody J. Sanders of Brite Divinity School; and Leanne Tigert of Andover Newton Theological School.

For more information e-mail j.marshall@tcu.edu or cody.j.sanders@tcu.edu, or go online to BeyondApologetics.wordpress.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 17, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Applause • Shrek’s appeal

Jason Moore, the gay Broadway director of this year’s State Fair musical, promises something for everyone — and he means everyone

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer

Director Jason Moore
Director Jason Moore works his magic on fairy tales and flatulence in this fall’s ‘Shrek the Musical.’

Dallas Summer Musicals, Music Hall at Fair Park
909 First Ave. Shrek the Musical runs Sep. 28 through Oct. 17. Tuesdays–Sundays, 8 p.m., weekend matinees 2 p.m. $25–$133. 214-631-2787.
DallasSummerMusicals.org.

Flatulence makes the heart grow fonder. That’s just one of the irreverent messages at the center of a musical comedy with a surprising amount of emotional resonance — hidden beneath a grand dose of silliness, of course. Shrek the Musical, about an ogre and a donkey on a quest to save a princess in a land of famous fairy tale characters, began as a beloved children’s book before becoming one of Hollywood’s biggest movie franchises. So bringing it to the Broadway stage — and then on a national tour — meant the stakes were high both with audiences and producers.

“If people love something already, they’re protective of it and they want it to live up to their memory and expectations of what they love about the movie or the book. We deliver what people love, but deliver a bunch of stuff that people have never seen,” says Jason Moore, co-director (with Rob Ashford) of the original Broadway and the national touring productions.

“We don’t think of it as a cartoon. The movie is only 80 minutes long and our show is two hours with an intermission. There are elements directly lifted from the film and then a whole bunch of new stuff, like the score. The movie is not a musical, unlike some of the other adaptations of cartoons that were musicals to begin with. Keeping the familiar look from the movie helps people get used to the fact that they’re hearing music now.”

The sets are colorful and wonderfully elaborate, which isn’t often the case with a touring production.

“The task of making something so it can travel makes you come up with more fun, creative and imaginative ways to solve bigger problems.

That’s why I think tours in some ways tend to be better versions of the shows they reflect, because they’re a little more distilled down to the story,” he says. “Though the tour of Shrek is a huge production, it’s distilled down from Broadway a bit, but still huge. It’s a fairy tale. You need size and scale and fantasy.”

Moore, who also directed the Tony-winning Avenue Q, has a long history directing musicals and comedies. But with Shrek he could quickly be the go-to guy for snarky musicals featuring puppets.

“Ha!” he laughs. “The puppets [in Shrek] couldn’t be more different. There are several puppets in the national tour, but we have this big new beautiful dragon puppet, which is like 24 feet long and magnificent. It flies and there’s a whole new dragon number. Puppets are magical and it’s so great in Shrek because the scale is so huge.”

The fairy-tale world also opens up a lot of new challenges for a director because suddenly, you’re dealing with a menagerie of characters that aren’t human.

“The ogres need to move like ogres, the donkey needs to seem like a donkey. In some ways, everyone is a version of a kind of puppet. They have to manipulate their costumes and their bodies just like a dancer would, like in The Lion King or Little Mermaid. It’s a lot of fun for the actors. To choreograph for a donkey, a dancing egg and a gingerbread man is a challenge, but a rare gift,” he smiles.

Perhaps even more rare is a musical number involving the delicate subject of, well, breaking wind.

“I like to think that we are the first and maybe last. It is a song about farting, but it’s based on an old theater convention: Anything you can do, I can do better. The song at its essence is really about two characters who are falling in love with each other. A lot of times when people fall in love, it’s not based in language. It’s based in kind of awkward physicality. Farting and burping is just our version of it because we’re dealing with ogres. It’s indigenous to their behavior.”

The deeper message at the center of Shrek is something he hopes resonates with anyone who, like the big green ogre, has ever been an outcast.

Shrek the musical
Shrek and Donkey create a new family of choice when they meet Princess Fiona

“It’s definitely a fairy tale world that runs by different rules. There’s a song in Act 2 called Freak Flag, which basically is the message of the show. Love who you are and others will love you,” he says. “As a gay man myself, I think that can be said of any human, but particularly true of gay humans. Shrek is essentially an outcast and we were often mindful of people who would be considered outcasts, from redheads to gays to other minorities to people who had awkward teeth. Certainly I’d like to think there is something special in it for gay people.”

But ultimately, it’s about bringing something to the stage for people of all ages and all backgrounds. Shrek, he says, is about exploring universal truths — with a lot of laughs along the way. And most of all, it’s about bringing to the stage something you can’t experience anywhere else.

“You have to ask, what can you do in the theater that you can’t do in the movies? That’s what we deliver. On the road, in any theater, audiences are seeing a show for the first time and we always want to give them as much magic as we can.”
Cue the singing mice and flying dragons.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 27, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas