“US” is an autobiographical solo performance about being gay in an America — an America which reserves special rights for people assumed to be straight — and demeans gay couples by denial of their relationship.
February 16-18, 2006 - 8pm|
Consolidated Works, 500 Boren Ave. North, Seattle, Washington
$20 advance, $24 door, $16 members, $12 premium members
photo: Yvonne Boyd
One of the main themes includes Tim’s reminiscing about being a nine-year-old and, not only adoring Broadway musicals, but viewing them as lessons in life.
“Oliver,” he states, for instance, is about a gay boy asking for more. However, Tim not only wanted to be Oliver, affecting an English accent at nine, but also to have the Artful Dodger put his caring arm around him, and sleep three-to-a-bunk under the watchful eye of a Fagin.
Another musical, “Hair,” provides lessons in demanding that the government stop the genocide of the Viet Nam war. It also had a song called “Sodomy,” of which he wasn’t quite sure what it meant, but knew it was for him.
One of the other themes in Tim’s play is the fact that he must leave his home in the U.S. because his 12-year relationship with Australian citizen Alistair McCartney is not recognized in any way by the government. Once his visa runs out, Alistair would be forced to leave America, and their family would be destroyed unless Tim takes up citizenship with Alistair in a welcoming country.
Over all, the thrust of the writing explores seeking love, and acceptance, and finding safe haven for gay people in America.
Tim’s performance style is informal and peppy. He offers such fast patter and energetic movements, that he gives the appearance of his blood being comprised of 50 percent caffeine.
While his rap is full of wit, jokes, and light hearted banter, it is the seething anger running underneath — at the complete denial by the U.S. government of same-sex relationships — that holds the performance together and gives it impact.
Two items in the show struck me as a bit odd. One was Tim’s placing his favorite LP musical show album covers on the floor in a pathway of light, and then stepping forward, walking on the covers. While the metaphor was possibly that of the albums being stepping stones to enlightenment, the act of stepping on them felt disrespectful.
The second item was the re-enactment of his nine-year-old self standing in the warm, pink spot light before his brothers and doing a strip tease. This did not appear to have as clear a metaphor or reason to be in the play.
While he talked about his performance work as stripping away to get at the truth, it is not apparent how taking off his clothing reveals any truth whatsoever.
The strip came toward the end of the play, after many references to stripping, so it framed the entire play, in a way, as a strip tease.
If “stripping away lies, to get at the truth” was the metaphor, then it would have more impact if something more important than his genitals were revealed.
Perhaps, for some, the baring of his naked body is enough. In that case, let us see a lot more of it.
“US” was nominated for the 2004-2005 Drama Desk Award for Best Solo Performance.
Tim Miller is an internationally acclaimed performance artist. His creative work as a performer and writer explores the artistic, spiritual, and political topography of his identity as a gay man. Hailed for his humor and passion, Miller has written “Live Boys” (1981-created with John Bernd), “Postwar” (1982), “Cost of Living” (1983), “Democracy in America” (1984), “Buddy Systems” (1985-created with Doug Sadownick), “Some Golden States” (1987), “Stretch Marks” (1989), “Sex/Love/Stories” (1991), “My Queer Body” (1992), “Naked Breath” (1994), “Fruit Cocktail” (1996), “Shirts and Skin” (1997), “Body Blows” (2002), “Glory Box” (1999) and “Us” (2003). Tim Miller has performed all over North America, Europe, and Japan.
Tim Miller’s Web site: hometown.aol.com/millertale/timmiller.html
Also, see our article: Touring Performers
Further, you may read articles by Tim on this Web site:
Let There be Pink Light
Like other cultural workers in the arts, Tim offers ways to get involved at the end of the show with petitions and information the support the struggles for civil rights and equal treatment as a citizen. Here are some of those resources:
350 West 31 St., #505, New York, NY 10001
212-714-2904 x25; fax 212-714-2973; firstname.lastname@example.org
Fights for equal immigration rights for same-sex couples, helps LGBT/HIV+ refugees fleeing persecution win asylum in the US, and works for an end to the HIV immigration ban. Resources include a pro bono asylum network and information about gay or gay-friendly immigration lawyers around the country. Chapters in many cities provide support and advocacy opportunities. Responds to queries within a week.
Freedom to Marry
116 West 23rd St., Suite 500, New York, New York 10011
212-851-8418; fax 646-375-2069; email@example.com
Freedom to Marry is the gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. Headed by Evan Wolfson, one of America’s leading lesbian/gay rights advocates and lawyers, Freedom to Marry brings new resources and a renewed context of urgency and opportunity to this social justice movement.