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{ICYMI} Sugar—and Other Addictions

<p align="LEFT"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>by </b></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Megan McInnis</span></span></span></p> <span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">One sign of alcoholism is getting back on the wagon; non-alcoholics don’t have a wagon. But I’ve had a sugar-sobriety wagon for 35-plus years. Every morning I climb back on and, by evening, I’ve fallen off—or, more often, enthusiastically jumped. If you hear an addict say, “I’ve been good all day long,” go ahead and laugh. All day long is the easiest part; once night falls, you’re invisible, and if it can’t be seen it doesn’t go on your record. </span></span> <span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">But at my worst I’ve eaten sugar for breakfast, when the birds are singing and the sun is staring right in. I don’t mean pancakes with syrup, or the boxed cereals that finance cartoons; I mean cookies with frosting half as thick as the cookie itself. Whole cartons of them. That is, if any are left from the ones I fell asleep chewing.</span></span> <span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> I never keep sweets in my house—nor soup, bread, salad dressing, or yogurt containing even a gram of added sugar; that would be </span></span><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>looking</i></span></span><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> for failure. What I do is wait for the craving to start and then go out to buy something sweet. It only stays in my house for as long as it takes me to eat it—even if it’s a whole pie. And I’ll eat until it’s gone; why keep any around to tempt me later? For God’s sake, I’m giving </span></span><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>up</i></span></span><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> sugar!</span></span> <span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> This disease runs in my family—both sides. I once found a list that my aunt had written as a teenager, long before I was born: “27 Reasons Not to Eat Sugar.” When I found it, I had already made several dozen such lists myself—always while high on sugar. (There’s nothing like that kind of rush to inspire such brave resolve.) Even now, when I see a new article about glycosylation, glycemic index, insulin resistance, or the way sugar forms glass-like shards that lodge in your joints, I read it as if I’d never read anything else on the subject. I’m fascinated, and motivated to change my life. I’m as addicted to giving up sugar as I am to sugar.</span></span> <span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> When I was eleven my mom said it was time for me to get clean—not because of ADHD or obesity but because I was normal instead of underweight, like her. (She probably said it while taking a guilty bite from an ice cream bar and giving the rest to me, to keep herself from finishing it.) So she put me on a no-sugar diet, but instead of just cutting out desserts she brought me home “dietetic” candies—that’s what they called them in 1978—and ice cream sweetened with saccharin. (When you look at Wikipedia’s photograph of the active ingredient—the rocky, powdery “sodium salt of saccharin”—your eye automatically fills in a razor blade next to it.)</span></span> <span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Every time a new sugar substitute came on the market, she was all over it: aspartame, neotame, sucralose—anything with a long chemical chain and zero calories. (This is the woman who would later get me addicted to prescription drugs: Methadone. Klonapin. Xanax. Oxycontin.) If anything could be substituted with a low-calorie version, my mom stocked up on it. Melba Toast. Figurines. Tab soda. I Can’t Believe You Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. Sometimes it wasn’t even low-calorie; the important thing was that it was fake.</span></span> <span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> No wonder the first man I married was someone who’d given up sugar and centered his life around not eating sugar. He also inspired me to vegetarianism—a practice I’ve continued these last thirty years—but at the time it was less about ethics or even nutrition than self-denial. Together we lived a whole life of self-denial, substituting sugar with healthy carbohydrates, and meat with nothing at all—no protein except that found accidentally in the vegetables we ate (sparingly) and the grains (enough to feed a large farm animal). We didn’t think about whether two plates each of whole-wheat spaghetti and a shared loaf of whole-wheat bread was much healthier than a smaller meal with dessert.</span></span> <span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> But that was our dinner each night. And it followed my daily lunch at Nature’s Pantry: a quart of vegetarian pea soup—that’s four bowls—and up to seven whole-wheat croissants—as many as were on sale, day-old. (The important thing was that the croissants contained absolutely no sucrose.) When day-old croissants weren’t available, I bought a bag of whole-wheat rolls and dipped all eight of them into my soup.</span></span> <span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> But, even though my body turned all this starch into sugar soon enough, it wasn’t soon enough to give me the high I was used to. For that, I resorted to dried pineapple sweetened with harmless fruit-juice concentrate</span></span><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>.</i></span></span><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> When I could get it (not every store carried it), I went through the 16-oz. bag in the car on the way home. I wasn’t </span></span><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>really</i></span></span><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> kidding myself—I knew there was something unwholesome about a sweetness that hurt my teeth. I just didn’t dwell on that.</span></span> <span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> With my second husband I gave up the charade: whole boxes of Fun-Size Baby Ruths were my staple. With my third husband (yes, I was also addicted to marriage), I temporarily lost all interest in sugar—or food of any kind—with my cocaine addiction. I seem to have an attraction to white crystals and powders. Crushed Oxycontin is another example. (Later I learned to love powders in other colors: crushed Adderall can be orange or blue. It’s just harder to make excuses for why your nose is dripping blue dye.)</span></span> <span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"> These turned out to be unsustainable solutions to my sugar addiction. And I certainly can’t say I’ve mastered it yet. But I spend a lot more time on the wagon now. I think I’ll eventually have a good grip on the reins.</span></span> <p lang="en-US"><em><strong><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Bio</span></span></span></strong></em></p> <em><strong><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Megan McInnis was born in the Summer of Love in San Rafael, but grew up in Issaquah. Her greatest inspiration is the Safe Place Writers’ Circle, Recovery Caf</span></span></span><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">é</span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><span lang="en-US">.</span></span></span></span></strong></em>

Big Freedia Hits Seattle this Week as she brings her 'BOUNCE' to the Neptune on November 6th.

by MK Scott Fresh off the release of her Asylum Records debut EP, 3rd Ward Bounce, and a European summer tour, the Queen of Bounce, BIG FREEDIA brings her BOUNCE to Seattle's Neptune Theater on Election Night. It’s hard not to feel Freedia’s presence in pop culture. In addition to high-level appearances on culturally-defining tracks and a string of her own impacting releases, Freedia has become one of the strongest voices from the South, in part thanks to 'Big Freedia Bounces Back' on Fuse TV, a weekly docu-series that’s been on for six seasons and become the network’s highest-rated original series. In addition to living life as a member of the LGBTQ community, she’s consistently used her music to lift listeners of all gender and sexual identity, using music as a bridge to unite. “I'm a voice for different communities,” she says. “Live your life and live the best way you know how. Love whoever you choose to love. Be whoever you want to be, do whatever you want to do. It's a much broader mission for me to encourage people all over—not just the LGBTQ community but heterosexuals as well to live out they life loud and proud.” MK Scott: Welcome to Seattle have you ever played here before? If so what do you like most about Seattle? Big Freedia: Oh yes, Seattle was one of the first cities I ever toured in and I have a special place in my heart for Seattle! MK: Actually we almost met at the 2014 GLADD awards in Los Angeles at the Beverly Hilton, but I think I was talking to Rita Moreno at the time so I missed you I am excited that I get a chance to chat with you now specially now that you are heading to Seattle for a big tour. What kind of stuff should we expect on your tour and stop in Seattle? BF: What they always get from a Big Freedia show: a lit show, a party, tons of fun, and a release from the current state of world affairs! MK: Now you're kind of like RuPaul, you are a proud Gay man and you're not transgender, but you do perform in Drag was RuPaul a huge influence on you?   BF: I don't perform in drag, but RuPaul was my biggest influence as a kid. All hail to the original! I love Ru!   MK: Now you are more into hip-hop, actually Bounce music, then RuPaul's sound? You also released a new Album, Three Ward Bounce…   BF: Yes, available in Spotify now.   MK: Who else influenced you?   BF: My influences are: Patti Labelle, Beyonce, Drake, Michael Jackson, Prince   MK: You even had a reality show called, Big Freedia, the house of Bounce on Fuse, what did you enjoy most from that experience? Who would want to work with that you haven't yet?   BF: There are so many artists who I’d love to work with: Elton John, Snoop Dog, Rhianna are just a few.   MK: Last question do you have a comment about Donald Trump?   BF: My comment is GET OUT AN VOTE THIS TUESDAY! We can’t afford to sit back.   <em><strong>BIG FREEDIA with Tank and the Bangas Hits Seattle on Tue, Nov 5th at the Neptune. The Show is Sold Out.</strong></em>

{ICYMI} Ray of light: an interview with Amy Ray of Indigo Girls

<strong><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">By Gregg Shapiro</span></span></span></strong> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Years in the making, </span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i><b>Indigo Girls Live with the University of Colorado Symphony Orchestra </b></i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">(Rounder) is a breathtaking experience. Even if you don’t like live albums, this one is an exception. Comprised of 22 songs, Indigo Girls (Amy Ray and Emily Saliers) do an excellent job of representing the expected hits (“Power of Two”, “Galileo”, “Kid Fears”, “Go”) and popular deep cuts, as well as a generous supply of more recent numbers (“Sugar Tongue”, “Able To Sing”, “War Rugs”, “Happy In the Sorrow Key”). Not surprisingly, the stunning symphonic set closes with a rousing rendition of “Closer To Fine” (complete with sing-along). As familiar as your oldest friends, you’ll never hear these songs the same way again.</span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Never one to sit idle, Ray is also releasing a new solo record in September 2018, her sixth. </span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i><b>Holler </b></i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">(Compass/ Daemon) continues in a similar countrified vain as 2014’s </span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>Goodnight Tender</i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">. Featuring guest musicians including Brandi Carlile, Vince Gill, Lucy Wainwright Roche, Justin Vernon (aka Bon Iver) and Rutha Mae Harris (of The Freedom Singers), </span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>Holler </i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">is another powerful musical statement from Ray. I had the pleasure of speaking to Amy in early August 2018.</span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>Gregg Shapiro: Indigo Girls are no strangers to live albums, with at least two such previous releases – 1995’s </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i><b>1200 Curfews </b></i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>and 2010’s </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i><b>Staring Down the Brilliant Dream</b></i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>. Why was now the right time for a new live album such as </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i><b>Live with the University of Colorado Symphony Orchestra</b></i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>?</b></span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Amy Ray:</span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b> </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Mostly because we’ve been touring with symphonies for about four or five years now. We felt like we’d gotten to a place where we knew the material well enough and wanted to document it. When we came upon a symphony that fit all the parameters that we needed to make a live record with a symphony; that was the University of Colorado Symphony. So, it worked out. It was kind of a long process. We had been hoping to get it done for a couple of years. </span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>GS: What were the parameters that the University of Colorado Symphony Orchestra met?</b></span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">AR:</span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b> </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Number one, they’re just really good. The conductor was someone we felt like we could work with on a project like this. Where we could say, "We’re going to need to come in and have an extra-long rehearsal, record rehearsal and then record the show, and may have to do a song over." They’re grad students and community members. They’re at a university, so it’s not under the guidance of a union, which gives us a lot more leeway on how many times we can do a song and how long it takes. With a union symphony, they kind of changed the rules around. It used to be where you paid one set cost to record with the whole symphony. Now you pay each member individually. For us, we wouldn’t sell enough records to cover that. We had to find a way to record it where we could pay the symphony what they deserve, but it would be a smaller symphony and more student-oriented. In the end, it was probably a better move. </span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">The dynamics end up being a little more engaged in a way. The players are fresher to what we’re doing. Some of them are younger. Every orchestra we played with was amazing! It was already on another echelon from what we were doing. They’re totally engaged. They’re excited about playing. They’re conductor is super-easy to work with. The conductor is the key to everything. They build that bridge. We’ve had quite a few conductors that we really love, and Gary is one of them. For me, it was a no-brainer [laughs]. We talked about it, made the arrangements, and a year later they had the time in their schedule for us to go back do rehearsal, a show and record.</span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>GS: Of the 22 songs chosen for the album, were there any for which the transition to an orchestral setting or arrangement proved to be more challenging than expected?</b></span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">AR:</span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b> </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Yes. I would say that it depended on the symphony, too. There are songs where some symphonies would nail a song and some symphonies wouldn’t. It’s all about people’s preferences and the way they play and the way we’re playing that day. There are certain ones that are inherently more difficult, like “Happy in the Sorrow Key”. “Come On Home” is a pretty hard song. One of the measures of who we wanted to record with was a symphony that landed the difficult songs, too. It’s not a judgment on who’s better, symphony-wise. Some symphonies get some songs, and others don’t. Or that particular night, maybe we weren’t in the right vibe, so we couldn’t get it; and that doesn’t reflect on the symphony at all. Some symphonies are just easier to play with and it’s not because they’re better [laughs]. Is the conductor in the space that you’re in? Every symphony has their own symphony hall and that had a lot to do with things. The way the symphony is in that space and how you can work together as a team.</span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>GS: Your new solo album </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i><b>Holler </b></i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>continues the country-oriented style of your 2014 solo album </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i><b>Goodnight Tender</b></i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>. Is this a direction you see yourself going in for the near future?</b></span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">AR:</span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b> </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">I don’t know. This was just what I was writing. I have a band that I’ve been touring with for four or five years. This is really a strong suit for them and for us together. As we tour, and get more and more in the groove with them, we’ve been working in old songs from the rock and punkier stuff. It’s adaptable to that. When I was writing </span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>Stag </i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">and </span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>Prom</i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">, I was playing a lot with the Butchies and I was writing to their style. My collaborators typically have a lot of influence over what I’m writing. They’re who I’m creating with, touring with, playing with from day to day. I like a lot of different kinds of music. This record has a little more of the earlier, punky, eclectic style mixed in with traditional country. I think I was crossing over into that line in my writing a little bit.</span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>GS: I’m glad you mentioned collaboration. As always, you have a stellar line-up of guest musicians on the new album, including Brandi Carlile, Vince Gill, Justin Vernon (Bon Iver), Lucy Wainwright Roche and Rutha Mae Harris of The Freedom Singers. When you are writing a song – “Last Taxi Fare”, for example -- do you hear the guest artist’s voice, in this case Brandi Carlile, as part of the process?</b></span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">AR:</span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b> </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Sometimes. On that particular song, as I was finishing it, believe it or not [laughs], I actually did hear Brandi, and I did hear Vince. I wrote that song over a very long period of time. I think I had watched a CMT award show or something and Vince was singing with Taylor Swift and Allison Krauss and a few other people. I’ve always loved him, but in that moment, I was like, “That guy can really sing harmony!” In any situation. I was working on that song and it was in my fantasy that Brandi and Vince would form a trio with me. It’s the weirdest thing, but Alison Brown, who plays banjo on the record, happens to be friends with Vince. It was like one of those moments where it was like, “I can’t believe this is going to work out.” In that case, I was definitely hearing them. </span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">I did hear Justin and Phil Cook when I wrote “Didn’t Know A Damn Thing”. I had played with them, so it was an easier thing to hear. That really informed that song. When I first wrote it, that version was harmony the whole way through, because I was thinking of them. Then I decided to change it up to make it more effective when they came in. Lucy Wainwright Roche tends to be a muse, with Indigo Girls, as well. I’ll be working on a song and, in my head, I’ll use her as a harmony singer for inspiration as to where to go musically.</span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>GS: I love the duality of “Oh City Man”, which features the builders of skyscrapers juxtaposed with moonshine makers, and the image of you walking down Broadway during a Manhattan blackout in “Fine with The Dark”. Even though you’ve long lived outside of a city, would it be fair to see that you feel the pull of urban living?</b></span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">AR:</span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b> </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">I think that I’m mostly a country person. But I feel the pull of the dynamics of urban living, and the poetry of it. I’ve spent so much time in New York City, and cities like London and Berlin, places where I feel the darkness and light, the pull of that, the Patti Smith of it. Jim Carroll and </span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>The Basketball Diaries </i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">and all my great punk rock icons. I feel their personalities and art in those spaces. I often have to have those spaces in my life and get down and walk the streets and spend all night out on the town with myself and the city. It informs what I do. But I find it interesting that, even in the city, and the country, too, you have to think about what came before you; how things got built. What was sacrificed so that you can have what you have. All those things. </span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">That’s the tie between the land I live on in Georgia, which was Cherokee land, and then you go to New York and you’re walking among these incredible buildings built by people that were, in essence, slave labor. Proud artisans working for rich people that were brilliant at their craft but none of it was for them. Do you ever think about this when you’re here? People in New York will say, “They just don’t build buildings like they used to”, when they are around historic areas. I’m like, “That’s because they don’t have a hundred people working for ten cents an hour, slave labor.” It’s like saying, “Why don’t they build castles anymore?”</span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>GS: Or pyramids.</b></span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">AR: Exactly!</span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>GS: In the four years between the release of </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i><b>Holler </b></i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>and </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i><b>Goodnight Tender</b></i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>, we have had to endure the election of Donald Trump and all that came with it. Am I on the right track when I say it sounds to me like you address that somewhat in the songs “Sure Feels Good” and “Didn’t Know A Damn Thing”?</b></span></span></span><i><b> </b></i> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">AR:</span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b> </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Yes, for sure! I don’t know if it was so much effected specifically by the presidential election as more of the whole vibe of the country and my own community. The polarization and thinking about issues around being a Southerner. Trying to take on some accountability myself, and to try to understand where people are coming from, as well. “Sure Feels Good” is my song of where I live and the dynamics of people like me that are coming from a different place than other folks. How do we rectify that? How do we understand each other? It’s easy to dismiss people because they don’t agree with you about things because you dogmatically think they’re going to feel a certain way. Or it’s not possible for them to come around to a place of tolerance or understanding. That’s not where I exist. </span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">I exist in a place where you get to know your neighbors and you help each other out, regardless of where you come from. Eventually those barriers start to fall and you begin to understand each other. Hopefully, things change. Racism is the hardest thing to change in the South. But I’ve found that there are still people who do change. I’ve also found that there are people who have a knee-jerk reaction because of the way we’re put into niches and demographics who aren’t being their best selves all the time, and I say, “I know you’re a better person than this. I’ve seen you in my community. I’ve seen the things you do to help other people. And I’ve seen you at church. I know you have it in you to be better than this.” We all can be better than this.</span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>GS: Every year there seems to be more and more queer female country artists releasing albums, including performers such as H.C. McEntire and Sarah Shook in 2018. Because </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i><b>Holler </b></i></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>is so steeped in that tradition, what do you think that says about country music and its listeners?</b></span></span></span> <a name="_GoBack"></a><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">AR:</span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b> </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">I think country music is opening up. I’m a big fan of Sarah Shook and Heather. Both of those artists have found that they have a place in Americana, which is the progressive side of “country”. It’s the place where people who play country, but don’t fit into a more conservative demographic feel comfortable. Pop country musicians like Sugarland and Dixie Chicks and others probably also feel like they don’t want to be restricted by being expected to have a certain political perspective. I don’t think music categories need to be restricted by political perspectives in any way on any side. It’s great to me that all these artists are getting some play and that they have some place where they can sit comfortably and be honored in a way that makes sense to everybody.</span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>GS: Since we’re talking about female country acts, I recently received a press release about a forthcoming Bobbie Gentry box set.</b></span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">AR: Wow!</span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>GS: In the pantheon of female country music artists, where does Bobbie Gentry fall on your personal list of icons?</b></span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">AR:</span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b> </b></span></span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">I would say iconic, probably from my youth. A formative person that made me go, “Oh, I can do this! I’m a female!” Like a role model. But for me, I’ve probably looked at someone like Dolly Parton, and stayed with that. Dolly would probably be an icon for me in a bigger way. For her songwriting and longevity and generosity and vision. The pure star-power.</span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>GS: Have you ever had a chance to play with her?</b></span></span></span> <span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Arial, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">AR: I’ve never played with her, but I have met her. She’s in a class all her own.</span></span></span>

{ICYMI} Unite Advocates at the State Level

photo by Nate Gowdy <span style="font-family: Calibri, serif;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><b>by Chris Brown</b></span></span></span></span> <span style="font-family: Calibri, serif;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">As an LGBTQ person living in the United States, every day, I seem to wake up and wonder what will come at me today. What rights will be on the chopping block for my friends, and chosen family? What can I do in my everyday life to advocate for change? In Washington State and on the national stage we have the opportunity to have our voices heard by electing progressive folks to office. Folks who care about a women’s right to their body. LGBTQ folks who want to have the same protections as their heterosexual neighbors. As LGBTQ people, we live the intersectionality of cultural identity, gender identity, sexual orientation and so many other cross sections of our shared experience on this planet. Equity through representation at all levels of government and in our everyday lives is crucial to ensure our voice is being heard. If we do not have a voice at the table, we are on the menu. </span></span></span></span> <span style="font-family: Calibri, serif;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">In my years, I have advocated for a number of organizations including Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Gay Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), Human Rights Campaign (HRC), and Victory Fund, along with so many other organizations. Over the past 3 years I have become a supporter and now organizing committee member of Fighting for the Majority (FFM). </span></span></span></span> <span style="font-family: Calibri, serif;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">FFM was formed in 1998 after the Republican-controlled legislature passed the “Defense of Marriage Act” over Governor Locke’s veto, prohibiting recognition of the marriages of same-sex couples in Washington state. A dedicated group of gay and lesbian citizens recognized that if the LGBTQ community were to advance civil rights at the state level, they would need to get involved in the electoral process in a clear and powerful way. They decided to create a fundraiser to raise money for the Democratic caucuses in the House and Senate. The strategy had two purposes: to help the caucuses elect legislators who would stand for equality and to make sure that caucus leadership would remember the support of the LGBTQ community when making decisions about caucus priorities. </span></span></span></span> <span style="font-family: Calibri, serif;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Our early struggles and eventual win with passage of a broad anti-discrimination law (2006), domestic partnerships, (2007-9), parentage, (2011), and marriage equality (2012) developed an ally base. To this day, the base of folks from marriage equality continue to advocate for the rights of LGBTQ folks and for women and minorities. Today, I’m supportive of FFM because we still have wins to secure. During the 2018 legislative session, the caucuses supported by FFM fought and won a ban on conversion therapy and an expansion of parentage rights for same-sex couples, including repeal of the ban on paid surrogacy in the State of Washington. </span></span></span></span> <span style="font-family: Calibri, serif;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Each year FFM supporters gather to hear from the folks who are doing the work in office. We rally to ensure funding for future years and we assemble to be in the same room and work toward our next sessions and what work needs to be accomplished from our dedicated elected officials. This year we will be on-site at FareStart in Seattle on October 29 sharing wins from this session and asking for folks to support the future work of our progressive advocates in the house and senate. </span></span></span></span> <span style="font-family: Calibri, serif;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">We all advocate in our own ways. Supporting FFM is one way I know my voice will be heard in Olympia. Thank you so much to our leaders in the space including Jamie Pedersen, Marko Liias, Christine Kilduff, Frank Chopp, Mayor Jenny Durkan, Nicole Macri and Laurie Jinkins. Thank you also to our co-chairs for this year Thomas Pitchford & Linda DiLello Morton. Your tireless efforts in bringing FFM to the forefront are definitely appreciated. Please join us as you are able and advocate to ensure we can all unite at the state level to uplift the voices of LGBTQ folks. </span></span></span></span> <a name="_GoBack"></a> <span style="font-family: Calibri, serif;"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Fighting for the Majority 2018 will be held Monday, October 29, from 5:30pm - 7:30pm at FareStart, located at </span></span></span><span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">700 Virginia St. </span></span><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">in downtown Seattle. To attend or sponsor the event, or for additional information visit our website, </span></span></span><span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><a href="http://fightingforthemajority.com">fightingforthemajority.com</a>.</span></span></span>   <strong><em><span class="_5yl5">Chris Brown is the founder of Token Gay Guy Consulting focusing on Information Technology, Media & Marketing and Finance. He currently serves in the philanthropy sector as the Executive Chair for Out & Equal's NW Regional Affiliate, Steering Committee Member Fighting for the Majority and Steering Committee Member Victory Fund & Victory Fund Institute.</span></em></strong>

Mayor Durkan and Chief Best Respond to the Mass Shooting at a Pittsburgh Synagogue

<p class="m_1712477595068575685x_MsoNormal"><b>Seattle</b> (October 27) – Seattle Mayor Jenny A. Durkan and Chief of Police Carmen Best responded to this morning’s mass shooting at the Tree of Life Congregation, a synagogue in Pittsburgh on Saturday morning with the following statement:</p> <p class="m_1712477595068575685x_MsoNormal">“This was an act of terror and an act of hate against the Jewish community. Our places of worship should be safe, not scenes of bullets, bloodshed, and pain. We are holding the victims, their families, first responders and the Jewish community in Pittsburgh in our hearts.</p> <p class="m_1712477595068575685x_MsoNormal">“We are also taking additional steps to protect Seattle communities, places of worship, and our Jewish neighbors - that includes increasing patrols and reaching out to the Jewish community across Seattle to ensure we are doing all we can for them during this painful time.”</p>

'She Wants It: Desire, Power, and Toppling the Patriarchy'

by MK Scott Part-book reading, part feminist revival party, 'Transparent' creator Jill Soloway was in Seattle this past Tuesday, October 23 at Temple De Hirsch Sinai. The event was co-presented by Town Hall Seattle and Three Dollar Bill Cinema and lasted about 90 minutes. Soloway wasn't alone. She was joined by her rumored girlfriend, award-winning Australian comedian, Hannah Gadsby, as well as award-winning author Morgan Parker and Portland-native writer, Nicole J. Georges. It wouldn't be a feminist rally, without music, and that was furnished by Soloway's comedian/musician sister, Faith, on keyboard. Together they explored Soloway's evolution from straight, married mother of two to identifying as queer and nonbinary. They offered unbridled insight and a rare front seat to the inner workings of the #MeToo movement and its impact. Soloway, Gadsby, and Parker called us together to ruminate on an entire generation's thoughtful and revolutionary ideas about gender, inclusion, desire, and consent.

{ICYMI} Diversity in Theater Means Taking Chances

<p lang="en-US"><strong><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: large;">by Derek Villanueva</span></span></span></strong></p> <p lang="en-US">Photo by Nate Gowdy</p> <p lang="en-US"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">I once auditioned for a role in a play in Los Angeles that I thought matched my profile. The breakdown read: Male (20s), Midwestern, boy-next-door-look. That could be played by me, I thought. Little did I know how horribly awkward the experience would turn out. As I was in the middle of the monologue, I saw the director and casting assistant not watching my performance, but instead having a conversation with each other about something not related to my audition. Afterwards, the casting assistant caught up with me as I was leaving the building and said, “Thank you for coming out. Your reading was great, but we’re looking for a Caucasian actor for this role. You see the story is set in the Midwest.” I pointed out, “Oh, the breakdown didn’t mention that detail.” He replied with a condescending, “Uh, Male (20s), Midwestern, boy-next-door-look?” I was dumbfounded and just nodded as I walked out. Like there aren’t any Latins living in the Midwest? Ironically, I would later go to several auditions for projects casting Latin actors, only to be told that my skin was too light, or my look was not “thuggish” or “mestizo” enough. </span></span></span></p> <p lang="en-US"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Helvetica Neue, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">As a teen, I was already the lead on my own stage, with a script I really didn’t understand. I was acting my ass off. You know, playing a straight kid! But even more, a straight kid who not only practiced abstinence but also taught it to his reluctant girlfriends. Outwardly, I was every father's dream come true! I had low self-esteem and that made it especially hard to accept myself. I just didn’t get it then. I didn't get my theater class, I didn’t get girls, I didn’t get boys (which was quite sad), and I just didn’t get life. What I did get was a clip from Harvey Fierstein’s </span></span><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>Torch Song Trilogy</i></span></span><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">. That was the start of my deep connection to Harvey’s work. It was the flashback scene where Arnold’s Ma (played by the inimitable Anne Bancroft) discovers him as a young boy in his mother’s closet, draped in a dress with badly applied make up. That, I got.</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p lang="en-US"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Prior to arriving in the Pacific Northwest, I’d done several short and feature films but hadn’t pursued live theater. By chance, I bumped into the founder of The Lesser Known Players, a Bainbridge Island theater group. We talked about my acting background and after listening to my reservations about theater she challenged me to give it another shot. I was skeptical because I saw live theater as transitory and impermanent, unlike film. And I also knew that the role of my character’s father was already cast - with a Caucasian actor. But I auditioned anyway. And to my surprise, I landed the role! One moment, I was acting for film and the next I was performing on stage, in a new city. In live theatre, your audience is right in front of you, studying your every move in real time. I wasn’t used to the immediate cauldron of reactions from the audience. But I loved that real time feedback and connection you just don’t get with film. </span></span></span></p> <p lang="en-US"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">My first stage role was the teenage boy in </span><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><i>The Vandal</i></span><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">, and was a prime example of nontraditional casting. Sadly, it’s quite rare for directors to put this into practice. Most people play it safe and cater to the dominant culture. The role could easily have been cast traditionally, but they saw past that and gave me a chance. </span></span></span></span></p> <p lang="en-US"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Locally it’s very common for theater companies to recycle their seasoned actors. Yes, those people are talented and experienced, and it’s always less risky to go with a known entity. I love that these companies continue to give their actors work, but they also need to give new people a chance, give people of color (POC) a chance to play leading roles. There are times where POC are never even considered. Not only are whole segments of our society made invisible by that choice, we also don’t get access to their unique gifts and perspective. But I get it. Directors must think about their audiences, who are predominantly older white people. That’s true everywhere, but especially true in the PNW. But then again, Shakespeare strikes me as Medieval soap opera material: mistaken identity, eloping, murder, backstabbing, family rivalries, deceit, fights and star-crossed lovers. It’s like Shakespeare foreshadowed telenovelas! I would love to see a Sir Juan Falstaff one of these days.</span></span></span></p> <p lang="en-US"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">After that first stage acting experience, I started marketing and building buzz for the company’s shows, and soon sat on their board of directors and became their Marketing Director. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine that the shy kid raised in Van Nuys, California would be involved with the theatre scene in Seattle and Bainbridge Island. I also started to research plays that I thought would be great for the company to produce, and was reading several plays every week, but for a long time didn't find anything that caught my attention. </span></span></span></p> <p lang="en-US"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">A director I had enjoyed working with once asked, “What kind of plays do you see yourself doing, if you were ever to direct? What speaks to you? Always ask yourself that and then you'll know which one.” The first thing that came to mind was my own version of that moment in </span><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><i>Torch Song Trilogy </i></span><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">that</span><i> </i><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;">I’d seen as a kid. That triggered my own memory - a flashback of my parents catching me playing dress-up in my mother's clothes. They didn’t have a violent reaction, but just turned a blind eye and hid the dresses in areas that I couldn’t reach. But what they didn’t know is that I was a determined, clever little boy. In thinking about why this resonated so deeply for me, I realized that it was because it dealt with the foundational issues of identity & acceptance. </span></span></span></span></p> <p lang="en-US"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Helvetica Neue, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">A friend of mine first introduced me to Fierstein’s </span></span><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>Casa Valentina </i></span></span><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">about a year ago</span></span><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;"><i>. </i></span></span><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">He had seen it on Broadway in its short (3 months), Tony-nominated 2014 run, and was hoping that someone would bring a production to Seattle. The play had an edge to it. It made me think. So, I proposed it to our board of directors as a part of our 2018 season lineup. I became an advocate for subject matter that some might think is too risqué or “out there” for Bainbridge and Seattle audiences. Who would want to see this, I thought? Will there be an audience? I presented it to my board. They noticed how lovestruck I was talking about it and approved it unanimously. I was giddy with excitement yet again. I felt I did something right, but one minor problem remained. We needed a director to helm the piece. Silence hung over the room. The newly-approved play lacked a director. I've directed film and TV before, but never theater. Would they take another risk again if I stepped up to the plate? “I'd like permission to direct this one if everyone agrees.” Where did this courage come from?</span></span></span></span></span></p> <p lang="en-US"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Helvetica Neue, sans-serif;"><span style="font-size: small;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">So, there I was on Bainbridge Island deeply involved with plays but with no formal theater education. I am the Latino product of a single parent home. When other kids were going off to college, that wasn’t even an option for me because of the cost. I knew that I had to learn the art and the business of theater on my own by immersing myself in productions, and I had to learn fast. I’m fortunate to have had a non-profit theater group embrace me and help nurture my craft. In this theatrical journey, it has helped me a lot to know that Joe Mantello moved from acting to directing because his theater group gave him that opportunity, despite no prior directing experience. </span></span></span></span></span></p> <p lang="en-US"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">In a way the play found me. One of the things that the play does beautifully is exploring personal and social acceptance; something that really resonates for me. The play is an edgy piece about self-made women (crossdressing heterosexual men) in the 60s, and I was about to be the first director to bring it to Seattle.</span></span></span></p> <p lang="en-US"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">So many people spend their lives seeking social acceptance only to sacrifice their own identity and principles in the process. I had done that in my high school years, and clearly remember the facade I put up in public and at home to make everyone around believe I was the person I claimed to be. Doing this for four years straight (no pun intended) was exhausting me. In the end, I realized I was trying to fool myself. I was depriving myself of the opportunity to connect with people who would have loved me for whom I really am. </span></span></span></p> <p lang="en-US"><span style="color: #000000;"><span style="font-family: Times, Times New Roman, serif;"><span style="font-size: medium;">Don’t just listen to me on the diversity issue in our city, pick up a program and see what the cast in your local theater looks like. Are any people of color in leading roles? If there are, that’s great. If not, then we need to continue the conversation to help shift the paradigm. Post-Hamilton, I think a lot of people are saying, “Look, diversity right there. We did it!” But we must keep the conversation going. Hamilton is one show, but what are we doing in our own backyard to improve things for all actors? We must celebrate those directors and artistic directors and theater companies who make riskier, more interesting choices. Who knows, we may just learn that diversification in theatre may be one of the most important antidotes to the systemic polarization that grips our country.</span></span></span></p> <p lang="en-US">FINAL WEEKEND!! Lesser-Known Players presents the Seattle premiere of Harvey Fierstein's Casa Valentina at the Erickson Theatre Off Broadway (1524 Harvard Ave) from Oct 19 to 28, for eight performances only. Tickets at $15-$35 in advance at <a href="http://casavalentina.brownpapertickets.com">casavalentina.brownpapertickets.com</a> and at the door, if available.</p>

Hand to God, Hairspray, and Dragon Lady score big at the 10th Annual Gregory Awards

by MK Scott This past Monday, October 22, the 10th Annual Gregory Awards were given out at Marion Oliver McCaw Hall. The Gregory Awards are a set of honors dedicated to theatre in Greater Seattle. Administered, funded, and produced by Theatre Puget Sound (TPS), the Gregory Awards bring together theatre artists and audiences to celebrate and honor the outstanding achievements of local theatre practitioners, and to raise the visibility of the theatre in our region. The Gregory Awards are the only peer-judged theatre awards in the Seattle area, and are now recognized as the most significant theatre awards in the northwestern United States, akin to the Ovation Awards in Los Angeles and the Jeff Awards in Chicago. The Gregory Awards began with a single category, the Gregory A. Falls Sustained Achievement Award, in 1998. Since then, it has grown to encompass 18 categories, incorporating musical theatre categories, new work, technical awards, and the Melissa Hines Backstage Award to honor volunteers, board members, and administrators. The show started with host and Broadway star, Don Daryl Rivera (Aladdin) performing the opening number, 'You will be found' from the Tony Award winning, Dear Evan Hanson with a Special Awards Youth Choir backing him up. Throughout the night, we were treated with special 10th Anniversary greetings from Broadways stars from the Lion King, Aladdin, Once Upon This Island as well as Seattle's own, Jerick Hoffer (aka Jinkx Monsoon), Gilbert Gottfried and more. Following are the 2018 Gregory Award categories and nominees <b>with winners *** and in bold: </b> <b>Theatre of the Year</b> ACT Theatre ArtsWest Playhouse & Gallery <b>***Seattle Public Theater</b> Seattle Repertory Theatre Village Theatre <b>Production (Play) </b> Frost/Nixon (Strawberry Theatre Workshop) <b>***Hand to God</b> (Seattle Public Theater) Ironbound (Seattle Public Theater) The Picture of Dorian Gray (Book-It Repertory Theatre) Two Trains Running (Seattle Repertory Theatre) <b>Production (Musical) </b> <b>***Dragon Lady</b> (Intiman Theatre) Hairspray (Village Theatre) The Hunchback of Notre Dame (The 5th Avenue Theatre) Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill (ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery) Ragtime (The 5th Avenue Theatre) <b>New Play</b> Family Matters - by Rachel Atkins (ReAct Theatre) Ibsen in Chicago - by David Grimm (Seattle Repertory Theatre) Nite Skool - by Max Kirchner & The Libertinis (Annex Theatre) The Secret and Impossible League of the Noosphere in the Baltimore Plot - by Darian Lindle (Live Girls! Theater) <b>***Silhouette </b>- by Scotto Moore (Annex Theatre) <b>Actor (Play) </b> <b>***Ben Burris </b>- Hand To God (Seattle Public Theater) Tim Gouran - Burn This (Theatre22) Richard Gray - The Nance (ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery) Lamar Legend - An Octoroon (ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery) Brandon J. Simmons - The Picture of Dorian Gray (Book-It Repertory Theatre) <b>Actor (Musical) </b> Nicholas Japaul Bernard - Hedwig and the Angry Inch (ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery) <b>***E.J. Cardona & Joshua Castille </b>- The Hunchback of Notre Dame (The 5th Avenue Theatre) Nick Desantis - Hairspray (Village Theatre) Douglas Lyons - Ragtime (The 5th Avenue Theatre) Connor Russell - Ride The Cyclone (ACT Theatre/5th Avenue Theatre) <b>Actress (Play) </b> Sylvie Davidson - The Crucible (ACT Theatre) Khanh Doanh - King of the Yees (ACT Theatre) <b>***Aishé Keita </b>- I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Book-It Repertory Theatre) Alexandra Tavares - Ironbound (Seattle Public Theater) Amy Thone - Frost/Nixon (Strawberry Theatre Workshop) <b>Actress (Musical) </b> Kendra Kassebaum - Ragtime (The 5th Avenue Theatre) Felicia Loud - Lady Day at Emerson's Bar and Grill (ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery) <b>***Sara Porkalob </b>- Dragon Lady (Intiman Theatre) Callie Williams - Hairspray (Village Theatre) Dan'yelle Williamson - The Hunchback of Notre Dame (The 5th Avenue Theatre) <b>Supporting Actor (Play) </b> <b>***Reginald André Jackson </b>- Two Trains Running (Seattle Repertory Theatre) Martyn G. Krouse - Hand To God (Seattle Public Theater) Ryan Schlecht (ASL) - Midsummer Night's Dream (Sound Theatre Company) Ray Tagavilla - King of the Yees (ACT Theatre) Rajeev Varma - Pride and Prejudice (ACT Theatre) <b>Supporting Actor (Musical) </b> Peter Crook - Hairspray (Village Theatre) <b>***Lamar Legend</b> - Howl's Moving Castle (Book-It Repertory Theatre) Vincent Milay - Little Shop of Horrors (Reboot Theatre Company) Brandon O'Neill - The Hunchback of Notre Dame (The 5th Avenue Theatre) Kevin Vortmann - Into The Woods (Village Theatre) <b>Supporting Actress (Play) </b> Emily Chisholm - Pride and Prejudice (Seattle Repertory Theatre) <b>***Sunam Ellis</b> - Hand To God (Seattle Public Theater) Sarah Harlett - Frost/Nixon (Strawberry Theatre Workshop) Jonelle Jordan - The Government Inspector (Seattle Shakespeare Company) Kate Witt - Coriolanus: Fight Like a Bitch (Rebel Kat Productions) <b>Supporting Actress (Musical) </b> Andi Alhadeff - Ragtime (The 5th Avenue Theatre) Lisa Estridge - Mamma Mia! (The 5th Avenue Theatre) Robyn Hurder - Kiss Me, Kate (The 5th Avenue Theatre) <b>***Shaunyce Omar </b>- Hairspray (Village Theatre) Allison Standley - Into The Woods (Village Theatre) <b>Ensemble</b> Frost/Nixon (Strawberry Theatre Workshop) Hairspray (Village Theatre) <b>***Hand to God </b> (Seattle Public Theater) King of the Yees (ACT Theatre) The Wolves (ACT Theatre) <b>Choreography</b> Michele Lynch - Kiss Me, Kate (The 5th Avenue Theatre) Crystal Dawn Munkers - Hairspray (Village Theatre) <b>***Katy Tabb </b>- Disney's Newsies (Village Theatre) <b>Director</b> <b>***Kelly Kitchens</b> - Hand To God (Seattle Public Theater) John Langs - The Crucible (ACT Theatre) Malike Oyetimein - I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Book-It Repertory Theatre) Victor Pappas - The Picture of Dorian Gray (Book-It Repertory Theatre) Timothy McCuen Piggee & Steve Tomkins - Hairspray (Village Theatre) <b>Lighting</b> Michael Gilliam - Hairspray (Village Theatre) Thorn Michaels - Ironbound (Seattle Public Theater) <b>***Tristan Roberson</b> - Teh Internet Is Serious Business (Washington Ensemble Theatre) Duane Schuler - Ragtime (The 5th Avenue Theatre) Andrew D, Smith - The Picture of Dorian Gray (Book-It Repertory Theatre) <b>Scenic Design</b> <b>***Catherine Cornell</b> - Mac Beth (Seattle Repertory Theatre) Robin Macartney - You Can't Take It With You (Sound Theatre Company) Christopher Mumaw - Hand To God (Seattle Public Theater) Tristan Roberson - The Nether (Washington Ensemble Theatre) Paul Thomas - American Buffalo (Seattle Immersive Theatre) <b>Costume Design</b> <b>***Alex Jaeger </b>- Hairspray (Village Theatre) Kelsey Rogers - The Nance (ArtsWest Playhouse and Gallery) Pete Rush - The Government Inspector (Seattle Shakespeare Company) K.D. Schill - I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings (Book-It Repertory Theatre) Christine Tschirgi - King of the Yees (ACT Theatre) <b>Sound/Music Design</b> <b>***Erin Bednarz, Pete Irving, Matt Starritt</b> - Dragon Lady (Village Theatre) Brendan Patrick Hogan - Frost/Nixon (Strawberry Theatre Workshop) Evan Mosher & Annastasia Workman - Smoked! (Cafe Nordo) Sharath Patel - Ibsen In Chicago (Seattle Repertory Theatre) Robertson Witmer - Hand To God (Seattle Public Theater)

Listening, Supporting and Leading the Performing Arts Community with Ariel Bradler, Executive Director of Theatre Puget Sound

by <strong>Aaron Shanks</strong> <span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;">If you aren’t a theatre community insider, you might not have heard of Theatre Puget Sound. The nonprofit Theatre Puget Sound (TPS) is an arts advocacy and service organization founded in 1997. It is based on the fourth floor of the Seattle Center Armory.</span> <span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;">TPS provides programming and services that benefit both the theatre community and the broader regional arts community including studio space for rehearsal and performance, a database of both on and off-stage talent, and events such as The Gregory Awards, and the Unified General Auditions. Members include performing arts organizations of all sizes, as well as actors, directors, designers, dramaturges, playwrights, stage managers, technicians, and theatre administrative staff.</span> W<span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;">hile TPS is celebrating its 21</span><sup><span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;">st</span></sup><span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;"> anniversary this year, Ariel Bradler is noting her first year as Executive Director, a rare leadership position for a woman and person of color. For the last year, she and the recently refreshed and renewed Board and Staff of TPS have been on a listening tour, asking what the performing arts community needs, learning how to best support them and provide leadership.</span> <span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;">Ironically, for an industry built around communication and connection, Bradler is finding pockets of isolation. While many people have found a rewarding, if unstable, home in the performing arts, others struggle to get past systematic barriers to participation. TPS has begun to tackle some of those barriers in little ways with an eye towards self-examination as an organization and as an industry.</span> <span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;">The Unified General Auditions, once held only in the middle of the day now include evening opportunities to be seen, opening doors to some who were never able to attend. </span> <span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;">The Gregory Awards relies on a massive team of volunteers to choose nominees. However, some performers have access to more “meaty roles” because of their type. They don’t have the same opportunity to be seen, let alone show off. So, TPS has an ongoing effort to give its nominators tools to break down their own bias and better identify our region’s best storytellers. Also, this year, the Gregory Awards will not include gender in the performing categories.</span> P<span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;">atrons can feel isolated too. The Puget Sound boasts an abundance of events, but regional traffic is making us less likely to travel. Performing arts patrons can look to TPS to be a centralized information hub. They want to help identify what is worth fighting traffic for and what might have been overlooked in our backyards. Many theatres offer discounts to TPS Members too.</span> <span style="font-family: Century Gothic, serif;">As Pacific Northwest performing arts organizations tell the full spectrum of human stories, TPS supports both them and their patrons. The organization, like many nonprofits, is in need of funding and volunteers. What makes them unique is that in helping them, donors can be “the rising tide that lifts all boats” for the whole Puget Sound performing community. </span>

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEWS: Harvey Fierstein's acclaimed Casa Valentina at Erickson Theatre Oct 19-28

<strong>by MK Scott</strong> You may have seen the ads and video on Facebook or ads in Seattle Gay News or director Derek Villanueva on the cover of the current Unite Seattle Magazine. What is even more intriguing is the Seattle Premiere of Casa Valentina from Harvey Fierstein (the award-winning playwright who brought us Kinky Boots and Newsies, as well as Torch Song Trilogy, La Cage Aux Folles and more) comes a powerhouse gut wrenching play that stormed Broadway in 2014. Now, the Lesser-Known Players, presents the Seattle premiere of Harvey Fierstein's Casa Valentina. This production appears at Capitol Hill's Erickson Theatre Off Broadway (1524 Broadway) for eight performances only Oct. 19 through Oct. 28. Tickets at $15-$35 in advance at <a href="http://casavalentina.brownpapertickets.com">casavalentina.brownpapertickets.com</a> and at the door, if available. Following is a brief description about the play written by the Manhattan Theatre Club where the play premiered on Broadway: 'Back in 1962, most men went to the Catskill Mountains to escape the summer heat, but others took the two-hour drive to escape something else entirely: being men. Nestled in the land of dirty dancing and borscht belt comedy sat an inconspicuous bungalow colony that catered to a very special clientele: heterosexual men whose favorite pastime was dressing and acting as women. It was paradise for these men - white-collar professionals with families - to spend their weekends discreetly and safely inhabiting their chosen female alter egos. But when they got the opportunity to share their secret lives with the world, these 'self-made' women had to decide whether the freedom they would gain by emerging from hiding was worth the risk of personal ruin. 'Infused with Fierstein's trademark wit, this moving, insightful and delightfully entertaining work offers a glimpse into the lives of a group of unforgettable characters as they search for acceptance and happiness in their very own Garden of Eden.' I had a chance to chat with Derek Villanueva earlier this week. <img class="wp-image-2855" src="http://uniteseattlemag.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/10/38894775_10217388853092206_8582675895406297088_n.jpg" alt="" width="360" height="360" /> Photo by Nate Gowdy <b>MK Scott: </b> What attracted you to the play? <b>Derek Villanueva: </b>I've always been a big fan of Harvey Fierstein's work, and over the last 18 months I've been reading a large number plays. While I've directed films before this will be my theater directorial debut, so I was searching for that perfect work that really spoke to me. When I read Casa Valentina I fell in love with the work and knew it was something special. I was shocked to learn that it hadn't already been performed in the Seattle area, so I jumped at the chance to license it for its Seattle premiere. On the surface it's not a play that has the broadest appeal - a play about cross-dressing mostly heterosexual men at a Catskills resort in the 60's. But like all of Harvey's work, the characters are so rich and the play so layered and human that it's truly universal in what it has to say about identity, acceptance and finding your tribe. As I researched the play and the underlying historical facts about the resort and its historical namesake, the Chevalier d'Eon, the rich detail was truly icing on the layer cake. Valentina has seven characters. <b>MK: </b>How different is each character? <b>Derek: </b>Each of the characters in this play are fully formed humans, with incredibly unique life circumstances, origin stories, and internalized conflicts - so they are all wonderfully original. In fact, if it weren't for this secret commonality of cross-dressing they would probably not be friends or have any reason to spend time together. But because of the commonality of their rejection and shame, they seek this safe space where they can live out, if only for brief moments of time, an important core part of who they are without judgment or the threat of physical violence. They have found their safe, accepting tribe. <b>MK: </b>I know that you were in Bainbridge Performing Arts' musical Priscilla, Queen of the Desert last year, and now your company Lesser Known Player's is putting on Casa Valentina. What's going on over on Bainbridge? <b>Derek: </b>It's the water! Actually, I think it's great that all sorts of communities and theater companies are staging plays that have representations that are even just a bit out of the mainstream. Today we see so much division and polarization, which I believe is fueled by lack of experience, understanding and empathy. So, while Casa Valentina's characters aren't explicitly LGB, they are definitely queer. And the fight over whether a newly forming non-profit organization for cross-dressing men explicitly forbid homosexuals from joining forms one of the main conflicts, along with the requirement to be publicly out as transvestites, which in the 1960's could land you in jail or worse. <b>MK: </b>I have heard and seen that your marketing campaign has been sensational with still identifying each character and even a video. Where did the idea come from? <b>Derek: </b>The video idea came because I'm a filmmaker, so I brought that eye (and equipment) to the table. The power of theater is the intimate, real-time connection when the character takes over the actor and forms a relationship with the audience. The more we see each character as a wonderful, beautiful human being, and not just painted with a broad brush and dismissed as scary or 'other,' the more power a work like Casa Valentina can have. So, I wanted to create that same kind of connection in the marketing material and video on digital platforms was the perfect way to do that. <b>MK: </b>You are also on the cover of Unite Seattle Magazine's October issue and you had written an article focusing on Diversity in the Theater. Give us a preview. <b>Derek: </b>I'm very appreciative of that opportunity and visibility. I had to make decisions about how to cast Casa Valentina, and I consciously chose to cast the best actor rather than 'safer' stereotypical choices. For example, Jonathon would typically be played by a nebbish waspy ~30-year-old. I had the opportunity to cast an amazing young actor, Tony Magaña, Jr , who I know our audiences will love. I believe that anyone who can give visibility to artists needs to really think hard about pushing the boundaries, and not just 'casting to type.' The world is so rich in its diversity, and we must find ways to expose and benefit from that richness. <b>MK: </b>What is coming up next? <b>Derek: </b>Right now, I'm 100% focused on doing justice to Harvey's work and putting on a memorable and touching series of performances of Casa Valentina. I know it has the power to move people, and I know that my talented group of actors, musicians and set designers will be doing that during our run. I continue to look for other works that speak to me and that I think need to be seen. I'm also keeping my toe in the Los Angeles and Seattle film scenes. The great thing is that the experiences acting in plays and musicals and now directing a play bring a new tonality to how I approach films, in the same way that you can see a little of my film background in how this play is staged as well as in its marketing. I love the process of trying out new creative challenges. It's what keeps me fresh, engaged, and helps me find my voice and purpose. <b>MK: </b>Burning Question: After I had met you at the cover shoot, I realized that I had seen you in a feature film and Queer cinema favorite, Longhorns, that played the Gay Film Fest in 2011. What was it like working on that film? <b>Derek: </b>I had an amazing time on that shoot. First, the director, David Lewis, is an amazing director and all around great person. I was so in love with the process of making films that I deputized myself as an unofficial gaffer, because I really wanted to understand every part of the process of film production. The rest of the cast was great fun, too. We shot the exterior shots in Grass Valley, CA (outside San Francisco), and got to know the local gay community there, which was a hoot. The inside shots were done in a studio in Oakland, and the cinematographer and crew were so creative in getting amazing shots in a small space. I had the opportunity to be in Longhorns because I had co-written with my partner and starred in a short called Little Love about a year earlier that was directed by Quentin Lee and had been on the gay film circuit as a companion short to his feature The People I've Slept With. That was really my introduction to film, and it's now become the focus of my creative expression. I still love Longhorns and everyone who helped that get made. It's funny, I've been approached on the dance floor in Spain by people who recognize me from Longhorns, so things have a funny way of traveling out to all parts of the world and making a difference. So that's my hope for me and for everyone, really, that we are all doing things that we are passionate about, that we are putting ourselves out there, and letting that travel wherever it may go, and hopefully it touches people and makes the world just a little bit better. <b>Seattle actor Tom Stewart loosens up in challenging drag role </b> I have personally known Seattle actor Tom Stewart since 2015 Arouet's production of The Children's Hour as Joseph through last year's SMT production of My Fair Lady as Henry Higgins. Stewart also plays with so much energy and passion in his roles that I had to ask him about his performance of the cross-dressing title role as Valentina. I also chatted with Stewart over Facebook. <b>MK Scott: </b>What attracted you to the role of George/Valentina? <b>Tom Stewart: </b> Harvey Fierstein first. I didn't know the play, but I've enjoyed his work. I read the script and liked the roles of Charlotte and George/Valentina. I'm always looking for something that might challenge me. That sounds like a total actor cliché (and it is), but the challenge is more than just wearing a dress and heels. George is a man scared of completely losing himself to this other persona that's he's built, Valentina. He fears he's disappearing. Valentina is jealous of the fact that George is seen as a real person and she is not. She wants the world to know that she's 'a person, not an aberration.' So the conflict is between Charlotte and the community George has built, but it's really between George and Valentina. <b>MK: </b>What are the differences of George and his drag persona, Valentina? <b>Tom: </b>George is fading and Valentina is growing. George looks to Val for advice and guidance, while Val doesn't seek George's opinion. George, at this point in his life, has geared everything to underpin Valentina; he has the resort, writes for a transvestite magazine, has gathered a group of like-minded friends who can understand and support him, has a wife who aides him as Valentina while maybe not fully understanding either. With Valentina, she sees George as someone one to be jealous of, but to also pity. They both come up with rules to make boundaries to reinforce and strengthen their world. <b>MK: </b>What have been the challenges to this role? <b>Tom: </b>Opening myself. I can be a fairly closed off person in everyday life and stepping on a stage in a different persona is freeing but involves stripping all the crap you had to build up for your protection away. It can be a painful and revealing process. First, we had to build enough trust with Derek and then among the cast to do that. Never easy. I think we've succeeded. <b>MK: </b>What is next for you? <b>Tom: </b>I'm doing The Veteran's Day Project in November in Tacoma, and then Death of a Salesman in February at The Slate, and working on staging Bobby in '68 my show about Robert Kennedy's run for the presidency in June. And probably a few other things during that time as well. Stay tuned! Lesser-Known Players presents the Seattle premiere of Harvey Fierstein's Casa Valentina at the Erickson Theatre Off Broadway (1524 Harvard Ave) from Oct 19 to 28, for eight performances only. Tickets at $15-$35 in advance at <a href="http://casavalentina.brownpapertickets.com">casavalentina.brownpapertickets.com</a> and at the door, if available.

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