Sunday, May 24, 2009

Benton County Harriet Beecher Stowe

"I talk to my plants"

Tri-City Herald
May 24, 2009

Tri-City native has play making waves in India
by Dori O'Neal

Tri-City native Doric Wilson found his writing niche in New York City a half-century ago.

Though his playwriting has been well received on off-off-Broadway for many years, one of his plays is packing a punch half a world away.

A Perfect Relationship is having a stirring effect on the human rights movement in New Delhi, India, where the production opened about a year ago.

The play focuses on the gay lifestyle, which presents a problem in India. Archaic Indian penal code makes it a crime to engage in homosexual activity, explained the play's director, Sameer Thakur, in an e-mail to the Herald this week.

"We chose to bring this play to the Indian stage, especially at this time, because it is relevant in the context of a litigation at the Delhi high court against section 377 of the Indian penal code," he said.

In addition, the gay rights movement in India has picked up momentum over the last few years, he added.

"We had our first gay pride in Delhi last year and the second one is scheduled for June 29," Thakur said. "There have been other plays and even Bollywood films with gay characters in them. However, most portrayals of gay persons have been stereotyped, comic roles that the audience has always laughed at rather than Mr. Wilson's play that provided us with the opportunity to portray people with whom urban, educated audiences in Delhi could identify with."

Wilson is thrilled his play has found a new audience in India.

"It is humbling to realize that a 10-year-old kid who organized his first plays with his cousins in a barn on his grandfather's Plymouth ranch 60 years later would have a script that is actually affecting human rights in a country halfway around the planet," Wilson told the Herald on Thursday.

Wilson couldn't resist making this humorous comparison: "Makes me sort of a Benton County Harriet Beecher Stowe."

Wilson has become a staple in New York City theater, having several of his plays performed in the off-off-Broadway district. He's also the co-founder of the theater group The Other Side of Silence, known more commonly as TOSOS.

He was honored last year by New York's theater community with the 2007 Innovative Theater Award for Artistic Achievement.

Wilson said A Perfect Relationship is one of his least political plays.

"It's about relationships," he said. "But it seems relationships between same genders turns out to be the most political of all! How empty people's lives must be for them to waste so much of their time on this planet hating other people.

"I know my mom and my old Kennewick High teacher, Miss Larson (who was the inspiration behind Wilson's writing career), would be proud," Wilson said.

Thakur couldn't be happier with the success of Wilson's play and it's impact on Indian theatergoers.

"The audiences come away with having enjoyed a comedy in which the characters happen to be gay," Thakur said.

The largely heterosexual audiences don't appear to feel disconnected to the play's characters despite their lifestyle differences, he added.

Most importantly, the director and Wilson are hoping to hear good news in the near future from India's high court regarding the outdated penal code.

"We are hoping to hear a favorable verdict from the high court to abolish the old law," Thakur said. "In the meantime, the theater is full, and the audiences are roaring for more. For us it's a personal satisfaction of speaking our minds in the best way we can.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


It seems unreal that Stonewall was forty years ago.  Sometimes it seems like it’s been 100 years, sometimes only last week.  I wonder if I will be around for the fiftieth anniversary.  My remaining days seem to be numbered like the grains of sand in a goldfish bowl.

For the past few months I have been interviewed by everyone from a straight clueless kid from the BBC to a very smart and prepared Ronnie (“Make Me a Supermodel”) Kroell for his new “Straight Talk” program.  I’ve been filmed for a documentary on Stonewall being prepared for “The American Experience” with a planned airing on PBS in April 2010, and featured in a David Carter article in the June/July issue of The Advocate with a great photo by Shen Wei (see the post for April 10th below).  “In the Life” is even presenting a dialogue between literary giant Edmund White and me this August on PBS.  (And you thought the Museum of Natural History had a lock on the dinosaur market!)

And the more I get interviewed, the less I know where we are at.  A few years back I lost all hope for the future of the two movements I more or less dedicated my life to, alternative theater and the queer community. Both were reeling from burnout and AIDS and the intramural sniping of political correctness.  But suddenly I started meeting theater people like Mark Finley and Barry Childs and Kathleen Warnock and Chris Weikel and Shay Gines and Jonathan Reuning and Frank Kuzler and Jamie Heinlein and Mark Waren and Christopher Borg and the list goes on and on.  And I know there is indeed a new generation more than willing and able to grab the torch and carry it high.  With people like Ronnie Kroell, writer Kirk Reed (How I Learned to Snap), photographer Shen Wei, the same seems to be happening for the GLBT family.

I also discovered something important about Stonewall.  For years I have heard people describe the event as angry and I suppose in a way it was.  But that was not the main emotion I remember experiencing that night.  I could never seem to find the right words.  While filming the “American Experience” documentary it suddenly came clear to me.  The first reaction that night was shock and then awe that we were coming out of the “twilight” and actually standing up to authority—fighting back.  And what followed was a giddy and joyous glee.  And somehow we knew nothing would ever be quite the same again.

Modern gay theater has an earlier natal day.  Playwright Robert Patrick dates it to the Caffe Cino in 1961 and my play on the trial of Oscar Wilde, Now She Dances!  This was quickly followed by wonderful plays by Lanford Wilson (The Madness of Lady Bright) and David Starkweather (The Straights of Magellan) and Robert Heide (The Bed) and William M. Hoffman (Good Night, I Love You)  and Robert Patrick (The Haunted Host) This list also goes on and on.

This June I have three plays in production and an appearance pending (details below):

June 5 thru 28 - Fri & Sat at 8 pm, Sun at 2 pm

Arch Brown is a true GLBT cultural hero.  As film maker, playwright, producer, and director he has spent almost as many years promoting gay theater as I have.

Doric Wilson’s
Forever After

Presented by The Arch & Bruce Brown Foundation, Arch Brown, producer, directed by Jim Strait, with Kyle Bradford, Terry Huber, Philip Sebastian Petrie and Tedd Zzenia on a double bill with Robert Askins’s Clean Living.  The Thorny Theater, 2500 N. Palm Canyon Dr., Palm Springs, CA. Tickets: $18, reservations: (760) 325-0853.

October 8 thru 10 - Thur, Fri & Sat at 8 pm

What a nice gift for Rev. Phelps.  A new gay theater right there in his own back yard.  I can hardly wait till he meets Boom Boom and Ceil!  The production has been moved to October to coincide with National Coming Out Day.

Doric Wilson’s
Street Theater

Presented by Stonewall Players of Wichita; Travis M. Hooper, producer, directed by Dale Jones, with Doug Clark, Sean Clark, Justin France, Travis M. Hooper, Terri Ingram, Randy Irvin, Garrett Jeter, Dale Jones, Zach Lattimore, Vivianno Leggaretto, Rebecca Sibolic, Phil Speary & Micheal Tribue.  Metropolitan Community Church, 156 North Kansas, Wichita Kansas. For information call (316) 992-7025 or email @   Tickets: $12 ($10.00 for groups of 10 or more), reservations 316-992-7025.  All proceeds to be donated to Positive Directions Inc.

June 18-July 10, 2009 - Thur & Fri at 8 pm

Ever since AK Miller read A Perfect Relationship more than ten years ago, he has tried to get a production of the play going in Chicago. He wanted the role of Barry, time passed and he has aged—like a very fine wine—into the lead role of Ward. He should be amazing in the part. If you live near Chicago, I am planning to attend the performces of June 25th and 26th, stop by and say hello.

Doric Wilson’s
A Perfect Relationship
Presented by The People's Theater of Chicago with MidTangent Productions, directed by Tony Lewis, with Thad Anzur (Greg), Andrew Kain Miller (Ward), Alex Polcyn (Barry), Partirick Serraro (Hank/Tom/Richard) and Bonnie Varner (Muriel). The Leather Archives Museum, 6418 N. Greenview Avenue, Chicago. Tickets: $10 available at the door.

A Perfect Relationship

continues to be somewhat of a huge hit in New Delhi. It seems to be one of the first “gay plays” to be presented in India. The production travels around to different locations in the city playing mainly to straights. To be out gay risks a ten year prison sentence. (See below)

I just received an email from Sameer Thakur about an upcoming perfroamce: “This is for the benefit of students who come to the American Center library. Around 300 young people will get to see the play. It is part of our campaign against Article 377 of the Indian Penal Code, a draconian law that makes any sexual act against the order of nature liable for imprisonment up to 10 years. We want sexual rights to be in the order of fundamental human rights. Just the fact that we are being invited by the American embassy is a big deal here."

Talk about a Stonewall + 40 moment! They wanted to bring me over, but I declined. I suspect India has a plethora of sacred white elephants. They certainly don’t need another.

A Perfect Relationship is being presented by Cathaayatra & the American Center, New Delhi on Friday & Saturday, June 12 & 13 at 6:30 pm at the American Center, 24, Kasturba Gandhi Marg, New Delhi 110001. Entry by invite available from 1st June 2009). Directed and designed by Sameer Thakur, with the following cast, Sukhesh Arora, Ajay Govind, Shiv Narayanan, Arushi Singh & Ranjan Sundaram.

contact Sameer Thakur at

Francine Trevens, another true GLBT cultural hero, also can give Job a run for his money when it comes to patience. She has survived me in full infantile rage with nothing but a smile on her face. She should have stuffed me in a burlap bag and tossed me into the Hudson. There is a long list of people who would have applauded!

including a scene from Street Theater
6 PM on June 18, Thursday

The art, passion, and soul of the GLBT Movement, in literature and performance, from books by members of The Greater New York Independent Publishers Association, directed by Francine L. Trevens, produced by Perry Brass, with Rhonda Ayers, Norman Beim, Perry Brass, Robert W. Cabell, John Finch, Steven Hauck, Fred Milani, Jeanne Pearson, Alyssa Robbins, Francine L. Trevens, Kay Williams, and special guest, Doric Wilson. Barnes and Noble Bookstore Lincoln Triangle, 1972 Broadway, NYC (212) 595 6859. Free, first come first seated.

For the best history of Stonewall, read
David Carter’s Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution
($10.85 on Amazon)

For an excellent overview of Stonewall: