Prizm News / June 10, 2019 / By Celina Nader
Evolution Theatre Company embarks on a new season of laughs, drama, and LGBTQ representation
By Celina Nader
Opening eyes. Touching Hearts. Changing Minds.
For any arts-based organization, those three actions would be powerful and aspirational. For Evolution Theatre Company, those goals are distinctly more de rigueur, serving instead as hallmarks of everything they set out to do. With Evolution’s 2019 season now underway, central Ohio’s only professional LGBTQQIA theatre company is ready to once again take to the stage to showcase the artistic vision of our community.
“We need to not only celebrate our successes and advances but also remember the past battles, won and lost, that brought us to this point in history,” says Mark Schwamberger, Evolution Theatre’s creative director.
Evolution’s 2019 season kicks off with Mark A. Ridge’s The Vultures, a gay twist on the classic murder mystery genre, and then is quickly followed by Who Killed Joan Crawford? by Michael Leeds. The latter show assembles a group of men at a secluded cabin all dolled up as Joan Crawford in one of her many signature roles. One by one, each “Joan” disappears with the audience on the edge of their seat to find out who is offing the one-time queen(s) of Hollywood.
Schwamberger points toward The View Upstairs by Max Vernon as one of this season’s stand-out shows. The new musical is based on the New Orleans arson attack on a gay bar in 1973, the largest attack against LGBTQ people in United States history before the 2016 Pulse Nightclub shooting in Orlando. This drama takes place in a bar called The Upstairs Lounge on the evening of Gay Pride, the night of the attack. In this almost forgotten piece of gay history, the bar was set ablaze by an unidentified individual (who remains unidentified to this day) resulting in the deaths of 32 people in a fire that lasted 16 minutes.
“Historical works highlighting the past struggles by the community to achieve equality will be presented truthfully will all the bigotry, discrimination, persecution and pain endured by past generations,” says Schwamberger.
Wowing audiences since 1966, Cabaret will take to the Evolution stage in mid-September. This hugely popular show is set in a late-1920s Berlin nightclub and follows a group of native Germans and ex-pats as the country falls deeper and deeper into the Nazi regime. Though the action takes place nearly a century ago, Schwamberger is quick to remind audiences that there are deep parallels in modern society.
“Cabaret foreshadows what could happen in this country today if, as the people in Germany did, we close our eyes to the tyranny, dictatorship and authoritarian government that is current evolving in this country,” highlights Schwamberger.
Closing the season is a show imbued with local history. The Turkey Men by Douglas Whaley is a whimsical tale inspired by the real story of two men who fought in the Civil War and eventually came to live together—many assume romantically—and were buried side-by-side near their longtime residence in Columbus, Ohio. Audiences will witness the two men still living on the land as ghosts who entangle themselves in the life of a young lesbian forced into conversion therapy as they try to help guide her into self-love, acceptance, and a way out of her dilemma.
“The stories and characters presented in our shows are universal, the situations are universal,” says Schwamberger. “Evolution’s goal is to show that differences should be embraced and celebrated, not feared. And the best weapon to combat fear is education and one of the best education tools is entertainment.”
For more information, including ticket information for the season, visit http://evolutiontheatre.org.
Celina Nader is a Syrian-American writer, chef and blogger currently working on a collection of creative nonfiction stories about the Syrian people and their lives during war. You can read more of her writing at insatiableblog.com or follow her on Instagram at @insatiablecelina