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Taking a Village: the GLBT Youth/PFLAG Project
by Joan Lipkin
May 25, 2004
As American As Apple Pie

Presented by That Uppity Theatre Company
Directed by Joan Lipkin, Sarah Shimshick, and Andrew Schneider

The focus is on GLBT culture from an intergenerational perspective, and includes reflections by PFLAG parents on moments of recognition, bravery, shame, pride and the arc of their parental journeys. It also features work by GLBT youth from 14-19 years old on gay icons, violence in the schools, family dynamics, self-mutilation, and love.

A groundbreaking collaboration between That Uppity Theatre Company, Growing American Youth (GAY), and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, Metro St. Louis chapter (PFLAG).

May 22-23, 2004 - Saturday 7:30pm; Sunday, 3:30pm
Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis, St. Louis, Missouri

The Event

Almost 400 people packed the Contemporary Art Museum at St. Louis’s first theater production featuring a performance of original works by glbt youth and PFLAG parents. It was one of the most age-diverse events I had ever seen.

Before and after the performance, PFLAG moms circulated with trays of apple pie, and audience members were offered feather boas, masks and face glitter by a welcoming committee.

Sam Kleinman, Jeremie Pace, Dan Rea, Alex Nooran
photo: Lisa Mandel
We had a great dance mix playing. There were literature tables and representatives from various human rights organizations.

While tickets were low — $5 for the disabled youth 22 and younger, and $10 or free for limited income — we still covered expenses, and also raised money for PFLAG and Growing American Youth.

The museum itself was open for viewing, and it is truly a fantastic new space.

The Play

Sam Kleinman, Dan Rea, Dream Weaver, Alex Nooran
photo: Carrie Zukoski
When people were seated, we unsettled their expectations by then giving them a list of three questions and asked them to introduce themselves to three other people that they didn’t know and share their reasons for being there. At that point, the space really started buzzing!

About 20 minutes later, we recited a deconstruction of the Pledge of Allegiance. Then we preceded with a funny and poignant mixture of pieces by the glbt youth, alternating with works by the PFLAG parents.

Our production was community-based, developed by the participants, most of whom have limited theater experience and yet, they inhabit what they are doing fully and with great heart. This gives it a different kind of presence, a different kind of beautiful, than traditionally produced plays. Not only that, it also had moments of great theatricality.

During the time we came to know them, several of our youth had very limited support at home, or had actually been kicked out of their homes. As we said in the piece, “The lives of adolescents are complicated. The lives of glbt youth are a whole different kind of complicated.”

Chris Krug, Dream Weaver, Andrew Schneider
photo: Lisa Mandel
Pending funding, we hope to continue and do more work with glbt youth in our upcoming season. The project was incredibly labor-intensive and equally rewarding. My gratitude and thanks to all who gave us coverage, volunteered, and took out ads.

It really took a village to put this on, and a village came together.

Joan Lipkin, artistic director
That Uppity Theatre Company
4466 West Pine Blvd. Ste.13C, St. Louis, MO 63108
314-534-1454; fax 314-534-6591

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