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Sunday, January 9, 2011

speech & debate

Today, mom and I went to see Speech & Debate. It was totally not what I thought it'd be. The description for the play reads:

An aspiring teen journalist, an awkward wannabe popstar, and the openly gay new kid in town all have secrets. But when their squeaky clean small-town high school refuses to acknowledge the messy parts of being a teenager, this ragtag bunch of misfits starts an after school Speech and Debate team to expose a possible scandal – and sparks more debate than their high school ever bargained for. “Bristling with vitality, wicked humor, terrific dialogue, and a direct pipeline into the zeitgeist of contemporary youth.” – Variety

* plot spoiler*

I watched a coming out story. There were 3 main characters: Howie, Soloman, and Diwata.Howie is an openly gay student new to town. Diwata is a neurotic, aspiring actress that can't get a gig. Soloman is an aspiring journalist whose proposed topics are considered too controversial for the school's newspaper. This play was funny, but what stood out to me was Soloman's struggle with his sexual orientation. I saw some of my pain in his character. I saw the need for a Gay Straight Alliance in Jackson in his character. Hell, I would help start one there if I was asked tomorrow. Soloman was Catholic so his family was starchly opposed to him being himself. They sent him to the Exodus camp once and was planning on sending him again. Damn if I didn't want to hug the conflicted boy then. I think that through getting to know Howie, and probably even the strange and friendless Diwata, he began to gather more self-acceptance and courage to be himself. At the end, they showed him in his first gay chat room. His last words, "Is there anybody out there?" How often it can feel like that if you're gay. How often it can feel like that if you're a gay teen, I'm sure. I'm about to move to a town where people really believe that it's okay to assault you if you're queer. I know, some deranged people think that everywhere but Jackson has definitely had its block of cases and it's not known for much else.

The play touched me. I recommend that you go and see it. If you can't watch it at TheaterWorks in Memphis, go and watch it somewhere else. And now for some reviews: memphisflyer

The New York Times review tells more about the plot.

And for visual stimulation, a youtube bit:

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