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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 23, 2010 - Volume 38 Issue 30
Local filmmaker teams with Waxie Moon for QTET fundraiser
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Local filmmaker teams with Waxie Moon for QTET fundraiser

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Staff Writer

On July 17, local filmmaker Wes Hurley and Seattle Boylesque legend Waxie Moon donated their documentary film, Waxie Moon, for a special screening to benefit the Washington Ensemble Theatre's Queer Teen Ensemble Theatre (QTET) program.

The event, held inside the Broadway Performance Hall, included a reception, silent auction, and screening of the film. All auction sales and donations directly benefited QTET.

The award-winning film garnered rave reviews and has become somewhat of a cult classic. Waxie Moon is one of Seattle's most recognizable entertainers. Director Wes Hurley shows Waxie Moon taking the world of neo-burlesque by storm in the hilarious and through-provoking portrait of Waxie's unlikely journey. The film featured footage of Waxie's fearless live performance, as well as interviews with a colorful assortment of international burlesque stars, theater artists, and fans.

Waxie Moon asked SGN to attend the benefit to help call attention to QTET and the work the theatre company does.

QTET is a unique program giving voice and artistry to LGBT youth in the Seattle area. Produced by the Washington Ensemble Theatre and led by co-artistic director Jessica Hatlo, it is a citywide summer theater workshop that provides a creative outlet for Queer teens and their friends to express who they are and where they come from.

QTET uses the Ensemble model for creating new works. The teens collaboratively develop pieces based on their own experiences exploring identity, love, and Queerness. During the creative process, the Ensemble members conduct workshops with the teens till their performances at the end of the intensive. The group that completes the program walks in the Pride Parade.

Statistics show that 9% of high school students identify as LGBT. The Washington Ensemble Theatre works to create an avenue for these teens to express their stories and have a voice in their community.

Before the film was shown, Waxie Moon took the stage to thank everyone involved with the film and QTET. "To me, the LGBT youth of QTET are so brave," he said to the audience. "To be a teenager and to have the courage to stand up and identify as LGBT at such a young age is amazing. Thank you for being so brave."

"This program would not exist without Marc Kenison [Waxie Moon]," said Jessica Hatlo, co-artistic director of QTET. "He has performed in one of our productions, he marches with us as Waxie Moon in the Pride Parade downtown. This year, he and Wes Hurley have worked really hard to get people in the room to support what we're doing. They both have a lot of respect for what QTET does and it means a lot that they work hard to ensure that it grows."

"Seattle is a pretty unique climate for Queer activism. It's hard to say whether it's more or less OK for kids to be out in high school in one city versus another. I think there is a sense of liberalism and privilege in Seattle that makes it a less turbulent environment for young people who are figuring out who they are in their gender and sexuality," she told SGN.

"QTET provides a place that not only empowers kids to live their truth but has them share it, expound on it, let it inform and be informed by their peers. It gives a sense of visibility to stories that are completely marginalized by the mainstream. It's a non-judgmental and safe place for kids to declare loudly who they are, what their questions are, who they want to be, and what they want from life."

The fundraiser was a success, with the organizations raising over $1,700. "That money will go towards taking QTET into middle schools and high schools to meet with theater groups and Gay Straight Student Alliances to do workshops and presentations and grow the amount of students QTET reaches this year," Hatlo told SGN. "Ideally, the summer portion of QTET - which is how it's existed exclusively before now - will be a culmination of the work that we do throughout the year in schools."

The Washington Ensemble Theatre is committed to the creation of relevant, immediate, and bold theatrical events through collaborative artistic leadership and decision-making. The Ensemble empowers artists to have a daring voice in the creative process and in the global community. Visit The Ensemble online at www.washingtonensemble.org.

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