by David Watkins
at 04:44 PM | Permalink
Local LGBTQ news and views
Louisville and Columbus receive more national recognition for a growing queer
community, especially when it comes to nightlife, it made me think: Where is
Cincinnati’s place in all of this? What burgeoning queer organizations or
popular queer spots in town are making their mark and promoting education,
change and the values that make up the queer movement?
First on my
list is Queen City Queer Theatre Collective. Conceived by actor and director
combo Linnea Bond and Lindsey Augusta Mercer, this uprising theater company
presents play readings that speak to the queer experience. The goal: Create
conversation, challenge social norms and ideals, and enjoy moving plays in a
relaxed environment. With assistance from Below Zero owner Nigel Cotterill and
sponsor Absolut Vodka, the group of artists performs readings once a month for
free at Below Zero’s Cabaret Lounge. I caught up with Bond to learn more about
QCQTC and why it is important to Cincinnati.
CityBeat: What inspired you to start
Linnea Bond: I wanted to, first, work more. I’m
an actor, and I wanted to do more work. And I wanted to do more work that
mattered to me. I saw a hole in Cincinnati. Cincinnati kind of fell behind, but
there’s also a lot of people who are interested in talking about their
experience and there’s a lot of people experiencing life as a queer person who
don’t have that kind of outlet to talk about it and are not seeing their
stories onstage. And as a queer person myself, it was a part of my life that I
didn’t get to experience that much before. I grew up Evangelical and pretty
much as an adult came to terms with the fact that I was allowed to explore that
part of myself. So it was something I’d been thinking about — how to explore
parts of art that I wanted to address, and also be working more. So I decided
to start this group and I found a space — I talked to Nigel. A friend of mine
from high school helped me make that connection, and I knew that her finance
was a director. I’d seen some of her work and I sought her out and talked to
her about maybe being a consistent director and working on this project. And
she was really excited about it, so she came on and we moved forward together
as co-founders and got other people involved. I got together a cast for the
first show — of people who were really excited to do this — and we moved
forward from there. It’s just really evolved. The community has really come out
to support us, and it’s been a really exciting and rewarding process.
CB: What was is it like working with
Below Zero Cabaret Lounge owner Nigel Cotterill?
LB: Nigel actually was so excited about
the first reading. He really wanted to support us and I was putting forth money
on my own for the rights of the first show. He volunteered to take care of
those for us, which was fantastic. And he offered to broker that relationship
with Absolut Vodka, so now they sponsor us for rights for every show. That is
something we are also so grateful for. And we’re grateful for [Nigel] to be extending
that space to us, and it’s been a really positive relationship for the bar, I
think, so it’s just wonderful overall. His bar is a huge cornerstone for queer
culture in Cincinnati. It’s a place where not only queer people feel
comfortable, but I know a lot of not queer people who go there and love the
culture and experience. I think it is a really wonderful, inviting,
nonjudgmental, celebratory place. I think that it’s really cool that we get to
partner with him in that space.
CB: What is your view on the queer
movement in Cincinnati? Why are organizations like yours important to the city
and queer community?
LB: From my perspective as an artist, I
think that art and artists are the soul of a society. I think that if we aren’t
doing things, society will often close up and become cold towards whatever we
are not talking about. Especially in Cincinnati, where there is a thriving
queer culture, that there still is not legalized gay marriage. There are
certain parts of town I’ve worked in before where I’ve received
closed-mindedness toward queer rights and the queer experience. I think there
are a lot of forward-minded people and there’s a lot of backward-minded people.
So we are really hoping to encourage that discussion and make it a normal thing
for us to be talking about. My hope in the future is that — as we’ve seen lots
of supporters come out [to support], lots of activists, lots of people who
share our experience — I hope that it extends to people who might not be
comfortable with that conversation. I hope they feel welcome to come experience
our art, and gain something they have not experienced before. That is why
[QCQTC] thinks [performances] should be free. We want to be accessible to
everyone, no matter what their financial background is.
CB: What can an audience member
expect when attending a reading?
LB: We were wondering how it was going
to be perceived because people are used to a full presentation. We knew people
would like it, but we were surprised at how much people like having that
different format. We do it very efficiently, very quickly. We put that show up;
so we only have a couple of rehearsals. It is also up to our director, Lindsey,
on how it is going to be staged. There is sometimes movement on and off stage.
Sometimes there’s a little movement and staging in it. But ultimately, we want
to focus on the text and communicating that text and those relationships as
well as we can.
CB: Your website explains that QCTQC brings “free public
theatre to Cincinnati’s queer bar scene, giving locals the chance to celebrate
the queer experience in art while enjoying drinks and downtown nightlife.” But
what are your goals for the future? Do you ever plan on expanding to an actual
theater space or a larger venue?
LB: Anything is possible at this point.
We love our relationship with Nigel, so we appreciate the space and want to
maintain that. But we have thought about possible partnerships with churches.
GLSEN is an organization we also respect. We want places that are available to
youth. We are very limited by the fact that people who are under 21 cannot come
to our performances because it is a bar. We are hopeful for increasing
accessibility in the future. We don’t know what that is going to look like, but
that is something we think about. How can we expand? How can we reach more
CB: What is your process when
choosing from a plethora of queer plays and literature?
LB: Some of it has to do with logistical
constraints — you know how big the cast is, that stuff. We really want to do
trans* shows, but we’re really sensitive to the fact that we don’t want to put
a cis[gender] actor in the position of playing a trans* character. That is
something we have to think about in terms of casting in the best way we can. We
hope for that in the future, but it is wherever our heart leads. We have plenty
of time. We’re in a sustainable position, so if something moves us — that we
can’t do right now — we can perform it later. The first play that we did — The Beebo Brinker Chronicles is one I
found over the summer — moved me so much because it shows so many different
perspectives, especially the queer experience from the woman’s perspective.
Additionally — and some people might disagree with me on this — I think that it
is an early example of someone who wants to change their gender in a society
that doesn’t have that dialogue.
CB: The past decade has provided
entertainment through television programing like The L Word and Orange is the New Black that gives the queer woman’s perspective as
you mentioned. Now TV shows like Transparent and RuPaul’s Drag Race have entered
the mainstream, sparking a conversation about gender identity and gender roles
in society. This has not always been the case. Still, today, the entertainment industry
continues to glamorize the cisgender white male experience. Do these pop
cultural themes or the role of cisgender white males in society contribute to
the plays you choose to perform?
think of ourselves foremost as educators, but we think of ourselves, also, as
artists telling good stories that are moving. I, personally, would like to do
more shows that are about the intersectionality between the oppressive queer
experience and other experiences of oppression.
CB: In high school I read Angels
in America by Tony Kushner and it changed
the way I see the world, myself as a queer individual and the queer movement.
What was the first queer play you read that inspired you to connect your art
LB: That’s a great question! There was
certainly stuff before this, but my mind first goes to reading The Beebo Brinker Chronicles last
summer. I was able to come across a play that had characters I could really
connect to — people who didn’t think they were allowed to feel the attraction
that they felt.
can one get involved or audition for QCTQC? Is it only 21 and older?
LB: We’re working on it. We don’t have
answers yet, but we know there is that energy and we’re really trying to find
ways to serve it. The best way is to get in contact with us through our email,
which is email@example.com. We
started this through a grassroots energy effort and if people have that
excitement to join, we absolutely want to meet that energy. We feel so grateful
to the people who have supported us, who have been moved by what we are doing.
I feel so grateful.
Queen City Queer Theatre Collective
presents a reading of The Night Larry
Kramer Kissed Me by David Drake tonight at 7:30 p.m. at Below Zero Cabaret
Lounge. 1122 Walnut St.,
0 Comments · Wednesday, February 29, 2012
LGBT communities are a second star to the right for many,
a place where one can feel safe, supported and free to enjoy whatever
types of cocktails they please. This collection of LGBT-friendly bars is
just a slice of such drinkeries the Queen City offers.