From screen to stage

Q Cinema veterans tackle live theater with the guerrilla-like QLive!

CURTAIN UP! | Producing partners Todd Camp and Kyle Trentham have theater backgrounds, but QLive! is a departure from the movie-focused work their organization, Q Cinema, has done for a dozen years.

MARK LOWRY  | Special Contributor
marklowry@theaterjones.com

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QLIVE: NONE OF THE ABOVE
Trinity Bicycles patio,
207 S. Main St., Fort Worth.
Sept. 23–24 at 8 p.m.
$15, QCinema.org

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Anyone who’s ever wanted to start a theater company will tell you that the biggest hurdle is finding the right space. It’s no different in DF-Dub, where the opportunities seem endless, but affordable spaces that can work for the demands of theater are limited.

QLive!, a new theater company based in Fort Worth, is finding ways to work around that. Its first full production, for instance, is None of the Above , a two-person drama by Jenny Lyn Bader. It opens Friday on the back patio of a bicycle shop just west of downtown Cowtown.

“One of the things we’ve talked about is the immersive experience, where it’s not just that you sit down and watch a show, but you experience a show,” says QLive’s Todd Camp, who founded Fort Worth’s LGBT film festival, Q Cinema. “The three shows that we have lend themselves quite well to that.”

Those three shows, which run this fall, begin with Above, which deals with a parochial school student and her teacher. In November, there’ll be Yasmina Reza’s oft-produced Art, which will hopefully happen in a gallery space (they’re still negotiating). It will close out the year with Terrence McNally’s controversial Corpus Christi, taking place in a machine shop near downtown Fort Worth.

QLive! has been a project three years in the making, and will be led by Camp’s Q Cinema cohort Kyle Trentham, as artistic director. The group has already launched a successful Tuesday night open mike comedy event at Percussions Lounge, and in February presented a staged reading of Frank Wedekind’s 1891 play Spring Awakening, the day before the musical based on that play opened at Bass Performance Hall. They also brought Hollywood comedy writer Bruce Vilanch in for a one-night performance.

Like other arts groups with a large LGBT following that present works of interest to that community — including Uptown Players and the Turtle Creek Chorale — Trentham says QLive doesn’t want the label of “gay theater” … despite the big “Q” in its name.

“Young [audiences] don’t think in those terms anymore,” he says. “They just want to see theater they like.”

With Corpus Christi, Trentham says that creating an immersive experience will be crucial to the production. “It’s a working machine shop,” he says. “You walk in and the actors are working, getting their hands dirty. Then in the cleansing scene, they actually are cleaned.”

Camp, who has led Q Cinema for 13 years, is no stranger to controversy. He was a critical player in the late ‘90s “Labor of Love” project at the now-defunct Fort Worth Theatre. That group presented shows like Paul Rudnick’s Jeffrey and The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told, and Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band. A few times, there were protesters in front of the performance space, Orchestra Hall.

Considering the dust-up Corpus Christi caused in Texas last year when a Tarelton State University junior had his student production of it canceled, Camp is prepared for blowback.

“You are not going to tell me what I can and cannot do in my town, even if you’re the lieutenant governor,” he says. “This is an important work by a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright who’s from Texas. … It’s an incredibly pro-spiritual show. It’s not anti-religion or blasphemous. It takes organized religion, which has been used to club the gay and lesbian community for many years, and retells the story that makes it a little more compatible and open to them.”

For now, they’ll have to see how their audience deals with a show outside a bike shop.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition September 23, 2011.

—  Michael Stephens

My self-assessment after reading the Glamour survey on women and “I hate my body” thoughts

Glamour breathlessly announced findings in its survey on body image and I’m not sure what there is to be stunned about – women are bombarded 24/7 with images of idealized bodies that don’t reflect the reality of the average woman’s size, shape, fitness level (or color for that matter):

Read these words: “You are a fat, worthless pig.” “You’re too thin. No man is ever going to want you.” “Ugly. Big. Gross.” Horrifying comments on some awful website? The rant of an abusive, controlling boyfriend? No; shockingly, these are the actual words young women are saying to themselves on any typical day. For some, such thoughts are fleeting, but for others, this dialogue plays on a constant, punishing loop, according to a new exclusive Glamour survey of more than 300 women of all sizes. Our research found that, on average, women have 13 negative body thoughts daily-nearly one for every waking hour. And a disturbing number of women confess to having 35, 50 or even 100 hateful thoughts about their own shapes each day.

…”That is a lot, yet I’m not totally surprised,” says Ann Kearney-Cooke, Ph.D., a Cincinnati psychologist who specializes in body image and helped Glamour design the survey. “It’s become such an accepted norm to put yourself down that if someone says she likes her body, she’s the odd woman out. I was in a group discussion recently, and when one woman said, ‘I actually feel OK about the way I look,’ another woman scrunched up her face and said, ‘I have never in my whole life heard anyone say that-and I’m not sure I even believe you.’ That’s how pervasive this negative body talk is. It’s actually more acceptable to insult your body than to praise it.”

And we seem to be well aware of how hard we are on ourselves. Nearly 63 percent of Glamour’s survey respondents said they had roughly the same number of negative thoughts as they expected. But few realized how venomous those thoughts were until they were down on paper. So how has this become OK?

Our unattainable cultural beauty ideals, our celebrity worship-those all play a part, says Kearney-Cooke. But another big reason is that we’ve actually trained ourselves to be this way. “Neuroscience has shown that whatever you focus on shapes your brain. If you’re constantly thinking negative thoughts about your body, that neural pathway becomes stronger-and those thoughts become habitual,” she explains. “Imagine a concert pianist. Her brain would have stronger neural pathways that support musicality and dexterity than someone who hadn’t spent her life practicing.”

OK, so it’s our broken brains that we’ve trained to cycle in these self-loathing thoughts. You can read the rest of the article for more; I was just dropping this in as a topic. I’m sure that the level of harsh self-evaluation, particularly when it comes to gay men, may be disproportionally high, given all the hardbodies you see in magazines directed at that demo. Some of the actual comments by survey participants are truly vile:

  • “Fat-ass. Lazy bitch. I hate my thighs. I hate my stomach. I hate my arms.”
  • “Your stomach is fat. That is why you are alone.”
  • “I can’t imagine anyone wanting to have sex with this.”
  • “Huge legs, fat stomach, not pretty enough to attract anyone, ugly in comparison to others.”
  • “I look disgusting with my cottage cheese legs and stretch-mark hips. Nasty. No one would want to touch me.”

I’m racking my brain to think about how often I do this each day. I’ve inherited my mom’s side of the family when it comes to over-ample boobage and I’ve accepted “the girls” for what they are. My legs are short and muscular, I’ve accepted those. Honestly, I only think about where I express self-criticism is when getting dressed, usually on the problem areas for my apple-shape – abdomen, arms. I don’t carry it in my hips.

The hysterectomy, which causes “swelly belly” for some women, makes it uncomfortable to wear jeans (and it does for me), so it sort of exacerbated my issues on that front.

My operation also made me realize why a lot of women in midlife choose the often fashionista-decried “mommy jeans” that sit just above your natural waist, or those with elasticized backs (or now, jeggings) – many have had reproductive issues — hysterectomies, cancer, even multiple caesareans that make wearing low-slung tight jeans a thing of the past. Yet women who choose some level of comfort out of necessity are made to feel undesireable or the butt of jokes as a fashion outlier.

Anyway, from my POV I know I can be stylish and not a size 0, and choose things that flatter. Now whether anyone laughs at me or considers me “less-than” in terms of attractiveness – I can’t change what someone who doesn’t even know me thinks about whether I qualify for their personal beauty standard. But you do really have to figure out how to deal with your own internal critic first.

It seems like step 1 for some women would be to throw out all of the magazines idolizing the unrealistic standard.

Q of the day: So how often do you have self-critical thoughts about your body/body image?
Pam’s House Blend – Front Page

—  David Taffet

What Are You Reading?

Smith I thought I'd put this question out there partly for selfish reasons. I finished Patti Smith's Just Kids over the holidays and am looking for my next book. I like switching between fiction and non- but sometimes stick in the same area for a while.

I also thought it might interest folks to hear what their fellow Towleroad readers are reading.

I thought Just Kids was a really fascinating picture of New York City in the late 60's and early 70's and it's really interesting to see NYC places that have undergone change through Smith's eyes. For instance, a loft she and Mapplethorpe lived in over what was once the Oasis Bar on 23rd street is now a nail salon over a place called Jake's Saloon. West 23rd street (along with the Chelsea Hotel) is practically its own character. Smith's memories of Mapplethorpe are also incredibly poignant. It's also a book to be read by anyone who is a struggling artist.

So, what book are you reading, or what have you just finished? Give us a brief summary and let us know if you like(d) it or not.


Towleroad News #gay

—  admin