Published by Windy City Times at:
Going 'Beyond Brokeback'
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times
It's natural that staged readings often don't get the same respect as full-fledged productions. Many people think that if a play doesn't get enhanced by scenery and costumes, why bother investing your time and money into seeing something that isn't fully fleshed out?
David Zak, former artistic director of Bailiwick Repertory Theatre and now head of Pride Films and Plays (PFP), is acutely aware of frequent dismissals of staged readings. It's part of the reason PFP has taken the plunge and produced a full-fledged staging of the play Love Sucks at Hydrate (see review in this issue) in addition to its regular staged readings lineup of LGBT-theme plays and screenplays.
However, Zak hopes that LGBT audiences will take a chance on one of the Chicago season's biggest staged reading events: the Chicago premiere of Beyond Brokeback: A Staged Reading With Music Sunday, Nov. 13, at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University. Leading off with a screening of the multi-award-winning 2005 film Brokeback Mountain, the event also features a panel discussion and a reading of Gregory Hinton's play, Beyond Brokeback.
Zak was asked to direct the reading of Beyond Brokeback on behalf of the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University executive director Brett Batterson for the theater's sponsored event (Zak is also an adjunct theater instructor at the university). "It just fell into my lap and I was really excited to take it on because it has huge potential for being something that can continue to reach people for a long time to come," Zak said.
The play Beyond Brokeback, of course, is inspired by director Ang Lee's film Brokeback Mountain, which is itself based on Annie Proulx's 1997 short story about two men who fall in love in the American West starting in the 1960s. The phenomenal worldwide success of the film spawned an online fan club called The Ultimate Brokeback Forum, and Hinton's play is drawn from the more than 500,000 online posts about the film that were incorporated into the book Beyond Brokeback: The Impact of a Film.
"Beyond Brokeback is a comprehensive oral history of the rural gay West," Hinton said in a prepared statement. "Brokeback Mountain eloquently teaches us what not to do. Beyond Brokeback leads us out of our isolation and into the open—to communities many crave and all deserve."
The Beyond Brokeback Chicago cast features local and national artists, most prominently the actor Darryl Stephens (Boy Culture, Another Gay Movie, Noah's Arc) and the Los Angeles-based composer/singer/pianist Shawn Kirchner, whose bluegrass album "Meet Me on the Mountain" was inspired by the film Brokeback Mountain.
"Straight, gay, single, married, different nationalities, young and old, they were all moved by Brokeback Mountain," Zak said. "I think the movie touched people for the sense of loss in that relationship that had potential but could not be sustained because of the circumstances of the characters—for what ever reason, that speaks to so many people in so many different ways."
Zak says that the film pairing with Hinton's play has been shown in communities large and small across the Western part of the U.S.A., and both hope that Beyond Brokeback's Midwest premiere in Chicago (it's largest-ever staging to date) will spur other institutions to produce the event. Beyond Brokeback's next planned outing is in spring 2012 in Las Vegas.
Zak hopes that Chicago audiences will take more chances on staged readings, and he thinks the three-in-one event of Beyond Brokeback will appeal to those who not only want a chance to see Brokeback Mountain again on a giant big screen, but to see how the film has become a phenomenon to inspire even more people to contribute commentary and creative works from its tender love story.
Beyond Brokeback: A Staged Reading With Music is at 2 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 13, at the Auditorium Theatre of Roosevelt University, 50 E. Congress. The event begins with a screening of the 2005 award-winning film Brokeback Mountain at 2 p.m., followed by a panel discussion at 4:30 p.m., then a staged reading of Gregory Hinton's play Beyond Brokeback at 5:30 p.m. Attendees are invited to come and go as they like. Tickets are $15-$25. Call 312-922-21100 or visit http:// www.auditoriumtheatre.org for more information.
430 S. Michigan Ave.Chicago, IL 60605(312) 341-3500
Directions & Maps
1400 N. Roosevelt Blvd.Schaumburg, IL 60173(847) 619-7300
Directions & Maps