At the Heart of the Play is the Writing
By Bel Hernandez
Make it a point to go see the 3rd Annual Brown & Out Theater Festival in their last two weeks at Casa0101. The writing in this production is excellent, the topics timely — the LGBTQ community proclaiming their rightful place in society.
Brown & Out is a collection of eight new comedic and dramatic short plays celebrating the Latino/a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Questioning/Queer experience. Among these eight pieces are some standout performances and characters, and one of the funniest church scenes, which give the SNL church lady a run for its money.
Once you get past the first piece LGBTQ the short plays begin to pick up steam. Most all the stories involve having to “come out” to family members. Others celebrate the gay lifestyle, deal with hiding it, or are about standing up for your gayness.
In the short story Prom, written by Monica Palacios and directed by Nina Harada, a proud and self-assured lesbian, played by the very talented Karina Noelle, takes her pride of being who she is to the next level. When told by the school board she is not allowed to take her girlfriend to the prom, she challenges the decision and takes to inciting the audience to join in on her protest.
Andres Rey Solorzano touches our hearts with his monologue in Safe, written my Miguel Garcia and directed by Nina Harada, as he takes us back into the turmoil of his childhood trauma of growing up gay, being in denial and dealing with macho world attitudes.
The “Church Ladies” in Happy and Gay hilariously played by Monica 0”Malley and Miriam Peniche, were excellently written by Mary Steelsmith and under the direction by Martin Morales. I was never been much for church ladies, not even SNL’s Dana Carvey’s, but these two adorable and funny ladies have set a new standard and have made me a gay church lady convert, Hallelujah!
The writing makes this 3rd Annual Brown & Out Theater Festival shine. In addition to Monica Palacios, Miguel Garcia, and Mary Steelsmith, I would like to applaud the other writers Rosa Maria Rodriguez, Michael Patrick Spillers, Jaime Mayorquin and Natalie Camunas and Uvaldo Baltazar & Arriola Baltazar.
The actors do double duty as they each appear in at least two of the pieces of diverse stories about the struggles of the LGBTQ community and in particular in the Latino community which has it own added challenges. Through their performances they inspire understanding and for that they should take an extra bow: Lauren Ballesteros (Sunday Brunch & Los Novios); Jaime Barcelon (Sunday Brunch & Los Novios, Prom); Jose A. Garcia (LGBTQ, Whittier Blvd., Los Novios, Prom) who also added his musical talents; Masha Mendieta (Whittier Blvd., Prom, Crazy); Karina Noelle (Sunday Brunch, Prom); Monica O’Malley de Castillo (Prom, Happy & Gay); Miriam Peniche (LGBTQ, Sunday Brunch, Happy & Gay); MJ Silva (LGBTQ, Prom, Crazy); Andres Rey Solorzano (LGBTQ, Los Novios, Safe)
Brown & Out is presented by Casa 0101, Josefina Lopez Artistic Director and Miguel Garcia, Festival Executive Producer. Sophia Sanchez, Co-Producer; Vimmi Jaggi, Helen Barriere & Gina Lin Espinoza Associate producers; Maura McGuinness, Lighting Design; Cesar Holguin, Set Design; Monica Hernandez, Costume Design; Kyle Peek, Make-up Artist; Matthew Sanchez, Stage Manager.
Performances: Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m. and Sundays at 5:00 p.m.,
Venue: The New Casa 0101 Theater, 2102 East First Street (at St. Louis Street), Boyle Heights, and CA 90033.
Purchase Tickets: Boxoffice: 323.263.7684. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or buy Online: www.casa0101.org. Tickets are $20 General admission, $15 Students & Seniors and $12 Boyle Heights residents, Group rates available