I’m Only a Lesbian on Stage

Post- Magazine, Brown Daily Herald, Family Weekend Edition, 10/13/11

For the theatrically inclined, a visit from the parental units often brings a slew of tricky topics and scandalous scenarios. With brains full of Viewpoints and Foucault, we, the makers of student theatre, are only too eager to indulge in the avant-garde and the risqué. We play with gender and socially constructed identities, with power and carnal desire and robots. But for a generation removed from our performance theory and vibrator plays, the average student production may seem a bit, well, odd.
Explaining your latest play to the ‘rents involves a delicate balance of vague statements and careful phrasing. “I’m playing a…strong female role who embraces her…independence and, umm, leadership skills and hopes to share her unique…philosophy with the world through…hands-on experience.” This delicate dance around the question is further complicated when the title of the show is, shall we say, not exactly PG. “I’m starring in a production of the, well…a series of monologues about…women and their, umm, anatomy.” Or “It’s called ‘In the Next Room.’ There may be some more stuff after that, but, honestly, who really has room for subtitles on a poster these days.”
Then there’s the post-show congratulations. As they emerge from the theatre with a thin veneer of pride masking their shell-shocked horror and confusion, the parents tentatively poke at the performance. “There seemed to be an awful lot of nudity in the play, honey,” they may begin. Or, “That young man, in the sequined suspenders, his, umm, hips, were quite close to your face. One of my personal favorites, and a frequent peril of the off-balance casting pools that plague many theatre groups, is the same-sex make-out sesh. In this case, the post-show congratulations usually reach an awkward pause in which the braver parent finally asks, “So, you and that tall girl, you seem…close. “ At this point the conversation usually veers off into the “we love you no matter who you love” territory, then takes a quick u-turn to “why aren’t you dating anyone,” and ends with any middle school-aged siblings either snickering or squealing in disgust.
My advice, dear parents? Stick to the nice, neutral classics. You were great. I cried. How did you memorize all of those lines?

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