Entertainment » Theatre

Gayfest NYC to showcase up-and-coming gay playwrights

by Michael K. Lavers
National News Editor
Thursday May 8, 2008

Gayfest NYC co-producers Bruce Robert Harris and Jack W. Batman recalled their first visit to the Harvey Milk High School in lower Manhattan during a recent interview with EDGE New York. They noted the facility, whose students are largely LGBT, contained only classrooms and a small lunch room. But Harris bristled with pride, however, as he described the speeches Harvey Milk students made during last year's commencement.

"I can't express how I felt at the graduation last year and listening to these kids talk," he said. "It was a very moving experience."

First held in 2007, Gayfest NYC showcases up-and-coming gay playwrights and productions that include gay themes. All the proceeds from the festival benefit a scholarship fund created specifically for Harvey Milk Students, while Gayfest NYC kicks-off with David Brendan Hopes' "Edward the King" at the TBG Arts Center in Midtown on Wednesday, May 14.

Brian Dykstra's "Spill the Wine," Philip Gerson's "Jumping Blind," Steve Hayes' "Steve Hayes' Hollywood Reunion" and Tim O'Leary's "The Wrath of Aphrodite" will also make their world premieres during the five week festival. Harris said both he and Batman feel Gayfest NYC reflects their personal commitment to highlight new playwrights and their work.

"There is a need in the industry... [to] bring these works out there," Harris said. "And this is the best way to make it happen."

"There is a need in the industry... [to] bring these works out there. And this is the best way to make it happen."

Playwright Terrence McNally, comedians Kate Clinton and Mario Cantone and actor/playwright Charles Busch are among those who currently sit on the festival's board of director. Emmy Award-winning set designer Michael Hotopp and costume designer David Toser among the many Broadway veterans who will contribute to this year's festival.

Batman praised those who he contends have continued to show their commitment to the festival and the aspiring playwrights it seeks to support. He again stressed both he and Harris' remain committed to providing them an additional venue - and audiences.

"We feel an awful lot of wonderful playwrights whose work was not getting seen," Batman said. "Unless you are Terrence McNally or Charles Busch or one of those guys, your opportunities are truly limited. We want to recognize other voices in the LGBT community."

Harris agreed. He added he hopes the exposure he feels Gayfest NYC provides will continue to open doors for aspiring playwrights.

"We hope these plays live on," Harris said. "It would be nice for this to continue."

The TBG Arts Center is located at 312 W. 36th St. in Midtown Manhattan. Individual tickets cost $18 with festival passports at $75. Tickets can be purchased at www.ovationtix.com/trs/cal/435. Log onto www.gayfestnyc.com for further information about the festival.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.


Add New Comment

Comments on Facebook