|New Initiative First of Its Kind in the RegionRichmond Triangle Players proudly announces the launch of a new signature program – the So.Queer Playwrights Festival. The Festival encourages the creation and development of works with an emphasis on southern LGBTQ+ writers and stories.|
“The So.Queer Playwrights Festival brings RTP to the forefront in the region to inspire and develop of new LGBTQ+ musical and non-musical works,” says RTP artistic director Lucian Restivo, “using a unique process of radical collaboration and supportive engagement with playwrights, actors, and audiences.”
The competitive, biennial festival of LGBTQ+ works will lead to the selection of one work by a playwright — a work that RTP will develop further in close collaboration with the chosen playwright — through a series of salon readings, staged readings, and minimalized productions, as well as consultations with local artists, mentorship from theatre experts, and the provision of other creative supports. “What really makes this Festival different is the approach we are taking,” Restivo (seen at left) continued. “In addition to being one of the few initiatives of its kind in the country, we are committing to developing the work of a new playwright every two years, and to a process that is based on affirmations, dignity, and loving but direct truth-telling. And we hope to find stories rooted in our region, and those that reflect the diversity within the LGBTQ+ community.”
The idea for the Festival sprung from an endowed fund created by former RTP artistic director John Knapp and his husband Tom Gillham, (seen at right) dedicated to the creation and development of new musical and non-musical work. RTP convened a committee that spent more than a year researching other competitions and festivals across the country, and defining how RTP’s could distinguish itself.
“Our committee, which was made up of Board members and artists with a longstanding commitment to RTP, was integral to the creation of the process and the standards for the Festival,” Restivo continued. “We could not have gotten to this point without their hard work, diligence and devotion to this idea.”
RTP audiences saw a pilot program of what will become the Festival in the development of award-winning playwright Chandler Hubbard’s play Molly House (at left, with Sara Heifetz and Lucretia Marie).. The play went through multiple readings and iterations, and was performed in fully staged reading last January. Hubbard recently won a 2020 Steinberg/American Theatre Critics Association Citation for his play Animal Control.
“Working with Triangle Players was a dream come true,” Hubbard said of his experience. “These are people who work tirelessly and give their all to both the LGBTQ+ community and the community at large, with little compensation or recognition.”“Playwriting is a messy, living-and-breathing process of creating a world for an audience for two hours every night,” he continued, “and RTP gave me room to grow and change and try and fail and try again and make bad jokes and make slightly less bad jokes all in the spirit of creating something bigger than myself, than ourselves. Theatre has the power to save lives; my mantra as a theatre artist is that if I can change even just one person, maybe someone sitting alone in the back of the room, it will all have been worth it. RTP allowed me that chance.” Click here for guidelines on how to submit work for the Festival.