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Work-in-progress play carries strong message
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Work-in-progress play carries strong message

by Miryam Gordon - SGN A&E Writer

Bullied by the Beast
Open Circle Theatre
Through January 31


Playwright Lois Mackey was so shocked to see her building neighbor bruised and battered from a Gay-bashing that she started to write a play about it. "I've lived on Capitol Hill for a long time. I went to laundry and saw that my neighbor had been Gay-bashed and we were talking and I was so shocked. He was a very kind, gentle man. Then there was the same-sex marriage passing and then repealed in California, and right after that, Prop 8 and everyone talking about the black community being against Gay marriage.

"It was disturbing to me. We've been through so much like Jim Crow and segregation. It seemed hypocritical to say that your religious beliefs are different than your color [issues]. It's such a contradiction. You go to a black church, there are lots of Gay men there, they sing in choir. But you don't talk about it [at church], and that makes it OK. But it's hypocrisy. They can sing in your choir, but if they talk about it, you demonstrate against them.

"I see that it's the same as when black people were beaten or hung in the South just because they were black. Gays have been ostracized only because they're Gay. It has nothing to do with whether they are good people or not. We've [blacks] basically been through the same struggle, to have peace and joy. That's how I perceive it. [If you aren't comfortable with Gays] you don't have to invite them to your home, but they pay taxes, they fight in our military, and I do not believe Gays should be discriminated [against]. I don't believe anybody should be discriminated against, whether old or disabled or anything."

Mackey's play, Bullied by the Beast, is being performed at Open Circle Theatre. The production has been marked by many difficulties, chief among them when lead actress Kibibi Monie fainted during tech week and had to be taken by emergency personnel to the hospital. Patricia Albert has had to substitute at the last minute and has to use a script. What that means is that the production feels much more like a work in progress.

But the play has a lot to like about it. Lillian (Patricia Albert) is in trouble and her house is being foreclosed on. She would be forced to move, but she finds a Gay couple, played by Greg LoProto and John McKenna, to move in and help pay costs. Her best friend, Retha (Loraine Marr), is against Gay marriage, and doesn't want a homosexual couple in the neighborhood. Retha brings the pastor in to influence Lillian to her point of view. Lillian makes a strong point to Rev. Wilson (Maynard Okereke) that she had come to the church "family" for help, and they had turned down her request for financial help. She strongly defends the Gay couple.

The topic is bravely addressed, and is a timely and important exploration of a touchy issue. Exploring, reconciling, and understanding between the black community and Gay community is key to successful changes in viewpoints, so progress on civil rights can continue to be made.

Mackey's play was submitted to CityArtist Project and won a $3,000 grant to complete it. She finished the work last October, and you now have the opportunity to see it. Bring friends and share your opinions. Even a work in progress can influence and teach. Take this opportunity before it's over. For more information, go to www.brownpapertickets.com/event/93742 or call 206-382-4250.

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