BY TAMMY SCILEPPLI
Their voices need to be heard.
And the LGBTQ+ community, which is as colorful and diverse as the borough itself, has a lot to say.
Sharing their personal stories through 50 heartfelt one-minute plays, 50 LGBTQIA+ playwrights will be making sure their voices are heard – in remembrance of the Stonewall Riots 50th anniversary – this Saturday at 2 p.m., at the Queens Museum.
Thanks to a joint project between Queens Theatre, the One-Minute Play Festival, and the Museum, this special happening is now part of an official city-wide Stonewall 50 celebration of the uprising that took place back in 1969. It all started on a June night in a bar on Christopher Street where LGBTQ patrons liked to gather. Laws and attitudes were very different back then and when the police started rounding people up for a crime they didn’t commit, the bar’s clientele fought back, and a revolution was sparked.
“These particular works written by this group of playwrights are all drawn from the LGBTQ+ experience. They are all incredibly specific and deeply personal,” Stonewall 50 Plays curator and director Nathaniel P. Claridad said.
He added: “This one-time only event is singular and is rare: Fifty different queer voices given space and time, with a cast that reflects the community that we are looking to lift up. It is an event for those seeking community and for those seeking to commune.”
As part of a day-long celebration at the Museum, these staged readings – which commemorate the riots that pushed the LGBTQ+ Rights Movement to the forefront – highlight what this day of activism, reflection, community conversation and art really means.
“The audience will see a spectrum of voices, bodies, generations, ideas, experiences, perspectives, and history that speaks to the queer continuum and this contemporary moment,“ Queens Theatre’s Director of Community Engagement and founder of the One-Minute Play Festival, Dominic D’Andrea said.
The Stonewall 50 Plays are staged by 5 directors and performed by a company of over 50 professional actors and at-large community members, who all identify as Queer. Playwrights represent international, national, New York City, and Queens-based voices, which include local creatives Jonathan Alexandratos and J. Julian Christopher.
Every June, LGBTQ+ communities worldwide celebrate the anniversary with Pride parades and festivals. It provides community members an opportunity to meditate on where they have come from and where they still need to go, according to Claridad who said, “What’s poignant about The Stonewall 50 Plays is that we are making space for these mediations to be clearly heard. This is work made by our community for our community.”
According to D’Andrea, the project stems from attempting to figure out how Queens Theatre could mark the 50th anniversary of Stonewall in a meaningful way.
“During these past 50 years, so much has changed, and yet so much hasn’t. This was the perfect moment to hold space for LGBTQIA+ artists and invite them to share their essence, ideas, and their work with the wider community,” he said.
“We’ve made this work in the spirit of celebration, remembrance, reflection, and asking some big questions: Considering these past 50 years, how do we begin to design the future we want to live in? What does intersectionality look like? What are the contemporary queer narratives and conversations that are important to spotlight? What is this moment in Queens? In NYC? Around the world?”
All events are free, but a ticket will be required to attend 2 p.m. reading of The Stonewall 50 Plays. Reservations can be made through a link on Queens Theatre’s website www.queenstheatre.org.