We Were Here, AIDS documentary at 14 Pews

We Were HereWe Were Here, the award winning documentary of the early days of the AIDS crisis, premiers at 14 Pews theater (800 Aurora) Saturday, November 20, at 4:30 pm. The film, from director David Weissman, will be proceeded by a panel discussion on the state of the AIDS crisis today.

I came out in 1998, right at the tail end of the worst days of the AIDS crisis. I remember, with vivid clarity, the days of the walking wounded: when every other gay man I met would tell how their doctor said they should have died five years ago, when the community told time by recalling if an event took place before or after a certain person’s funeral.

Fortunately those days are largely behind us, but as new HIV infections continue to rise and we struggle to maintain funding for medications that are keeping people alive (at a cost of thousands of dollars a month), it’s important that we never forget the early days of the pandemic. For people of my generation and younger the mysterious “Gay Plague” that threatened our community in the early eighties can seem more like a fairy tale monster than the horrifying crisis it was, and is.

We Were Here tells the real life stories of five people who survived. Their mundane and profound recollections highlight, not only their personal experiences, but the broad political and social upheavals unleashed by the crisis. From their different vantage points as caregivers, activists, researchers, as friends and lovers of the afflicted, and as people with AIDS themselves, the interviewees share stories which are not only intensely personal, but which also illuminate the much larger themes of that era: the political and sexual complexities, and the terrible emotional toll. The film highlights the role of women – particularly lesbians – in caring for and fighting for their gay brothers.

Tickets for We Were Here are $10 and can be purchased at 14pews.org.

After the jump watch the trailer for We Were Here.

—  admin

’Tis the season

Christmastime gears up stage traditions

PANTO-MOM | Ivan Jones, right, plays Governess Amplebottom in ‘Babes in the Wood,’ a fairy tale take on Robin Hood that’s suitable for kids but full of double entendres. (Photo by Mark Trew)

With Thanksgiving now behind us, theater companies are pullout out their Christmas fare — many with more-than-holiday appeal to the gay community. Check out these shows that might jingle your bells.

A Christmas Carol (Dallas Theater Center). The classic production returns to Oak Lawn, with a few tweaks. Back in the cast are local actors Chamblee Ferguson and Liz Mikel … only this time in new roles. Ferguson has matured from Cratchit to his boss, playing Scrooge, and Mikel returns, now in the role of the ghost of Jacob Marley. Kalita Humphreys Theater, 3636 Turtle Creek Blvd. Opens Dec. 3, runs daily (except Mondays) through Dec. 24. DallasTheaterCenter.org.

The Santaland Diaries (Contemporary Theatre of Dallas). Another tradition is back, as actor Nye Cooper and director Coy Covington add some holiday jeer with David Sedaris’ hilarious antidote to Christmas treacle, about a gay elf toiling away at Macy’s during the holiday. Ho-ho-homo! Greenville Center for the Arts, 5601 Sears St. Opens Dec. 3; runs weekends through Dec. 23. ContemporaryTheatreofDallas.com.

Babes in the Wood (Theatre Britain). Dallas’ resident Anglophile troupe has a new venue and a new show, its annual world premiere panto. A tradition in England for 200 years, this fairy tale always features a cross-dressing comic dame (played this year by Ivan Jones) who tells lots of lascivious jokes that go over the kids’ heads but keep the adults laughing. Cox Building Playhouse, 1517 Avenue H, Plano. Opens Dec. 3, runs weekends through Dec. 23. Theatre-Britain.com.

The Drowsy Chaperone (Theatre Three). It’s not a Christmas show, but this buoyant musical — about a forgotten but goofily charming Depression Era musical that comes to life in a gay man’s apartment — is loaded with good cheer and a smartness about the conventions of the form. Theatre Three, 2900 Routh St. in the Quadrangle. Currently in previews; opens Dec. 6, runs through Jan. 8 (no performances Christmas week). Theatre3Dallas.com.

— Arnold Wayne Jones

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition December 3, 2010.

—  Michael Stephens

Bumpin’ uglies

TBT’s Texas two step produces a gender-bending twist on ‘Cinderella’

STEVEN LINDSEY  | Contributing Writer stevencraiglindsey@me.com

TEXAS TWO STEP  |  Peter Zweifel and Mark Troxler bring dancing skill and comic panache — as well as a bit of masculinity — to Ben Stevenson’s campy production of ‘Cinderella.’ (Photo courtesy Ellen Appel)
TEXAS TWO STEP | Peter Zweifel and Mark Troxler bring dancing skill and comic panache — as well as a bit of masculinity — to Ben Stevenson’s campy production of ‘Cinderella.’ (Photo courtesy Ellen Appel)

CINDERELLA
Winspear Opera House,
2403 Flora St. Oct. 1–3. Bass Hall, 525 Commerce St., Fort Worth, Oct. 22–24. $19–$99.
TexasBalletTheater.org

…………………………………..

Once upon a time, Texas Ballet Theater decided to have a little fun with a fairy tale classic. Artistic director Ben Stevenson has a wicked sense of humor when it comes to the ugly stepsisters in Cinderella, so for the upcoming productions of the timeless love story, Peter Zweifel and Mark Troxler are bringing a little extra something to these female roles: A bulge in their tights.

Gender-bending is common in opera, where female sopranos sometimes take on “trouser roles,” portraying men. According to Troxler, though, the stepsister roles are often portrayed by men in productions of Cinderella — after all, Rose Room divas notwithstanding, men make the ugliest women. But that won’t distract from the fact that these are two highly skilled, accomplished dancers.

Troxler trained with the Pittsburgh Ballet Theatre School and spent summers with San Francisco Ballet School and Houston Ballet’s Ben Stevenson Academy before joining TBT, which he’s been with for nine years. Zweifel, who found his love for ballet after his mother put him into dance classes when he was a sprig, is in his sixth season with TBT. He got his start at the Virginia School of the Arts and the Stevenson Academy.

For the two seasoned dancers, the ugly stepsister roles present the opportunity to do something outside their comfort zones.

“This is more of a character acting role, as opposed to a dancing role. I am also playing a girl, so pretty much everything about it is different,” says Zweifel. “I like that I get to be funny and silly. These are sides of myself that I don’t usually get to explore onstage.”

Troxler agrees that this is a hilarious production.

“My favorite part of this ballet is the humor. From start to finish it’s a roller coaster of laughs,” he says. “With a love story thrown in.”

Troxler, who will also be playing other parts in Cinderella, isn’t phased by the need to quickly transform from one character to another. “It’s not too big of a deal switching roles,” he says.

“You just change your mental preparation and your costume.”

But really, he just wants to dance as much as he can.

“What made me decide to dance is the same thing that keeps me going every day my knees are aching and my back is sore. The love of the art form,” Troxler says. “It’s a very rare career and you can only dance for so long.”

Ballet, like opera, can be intimidating to a lot of people, often because the perception is that the performances will be boring or too complex. So Cinderella presents a great opportunity for ballet novices and enthusiasts alike to enjoy something lighthearted and fun.

“Just drop whatever horrible stereotype you have created in your mind and be open to experiencing something different. Come and enjoy the music and the dancing,” Zweifel says. ”Ballet is very athletic, which I think is something most people don’t realize. So even if you are a complete jock, you will be able to enjoy it. Don’t be afraid.”

Enjoying it won’t be the problem —  it’ll be stifling the desire to cheer for the stepsisters to put that prima ballerina, Cinderella, in her place. But even if they don’t come out on top, they’ll most certainly come out with a five-o’clock shadow.

For readers of Dallas Voice who make a reservation by calling 877-828-9200 and use the promo code “stepsister,” tickets for many seats are 50 percent off.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition October 1, 2010.

—  Kevin Thomas