SHOW TITLE: STANDING ON CEREMONY: The Gay Marriage Plays
PRODUCER: The Ensemble Theatre Company
HAILING FROM: Minneapolis, Minnesota
SHOW DESCRIPTION: Join us as we explore the practicalities of gay marriage through four weddings, one funeral, and one nervous breakdown as six couples discuss family, sex, politics, and religion before saying “I do.”
WHAT CAUGHT MY INTEREST: I’ve been both an activist for the cause, and a great fan of docudrama.
INTERVIEWEE: Mary Beth King (director)
Just who do you think you are, anyway?
Located in the Twin Cities, The Ensemble Theatre Company is a first time Fringe Festival participant. They are an internationally known theatre company, honored with 22 state, regional, and national awards for excellence from the American Association of Community Theatres since 2005. They are an anchor member of the Dakota Fine Arts Consortium, a not-for-profit collaboration among multiple arts disciplines to sponsor, promote, and advocate for arts activities in, and the building and management of arts centers and performance venues in the communities surrounding Minneapolis and St. Paul.
So what’s the big idea?
The Ensemble Theatre Company in partnership with Dakota Fine Arts Consortium presents STANDING ON CEREMONY: THE GAY MARRIAGE PLAYS by Mo Gaffney, Jordan Harrison, Moisés Kaufman, Neil LaBute, Wendy MacLeod, José Rivera, Paul Rudnick, Doug Wright, and conceived by Brian Shnipper.
This is a set of several short plays about marriage generally, and gay weddings specifically. It was first introduced nationally as an evening of theatre in November 2011 when Tectonic Theatre Project’s collection of 10-minute “micro plays” was simultaneously performed in 40 theaters in 25 states, including Minneapolis, Minnesota. Ensemble is performing six of the nine plays in the collection for the 2015 Minneapolis Fringe Festival.
How did you come up with a screwy idea like that?
As a suburban community theater with a large family base, we rarely have the luxury to produce a highly-charged show about sex, politics or religion. For Ensemble’s first Fringe experience in a festival environment, we discussed preparing a timely work connected to issues in our national public conversation. We chose this play last winter after the U.S. Supreme Court had consolidated and agreed to hear the Obergefell, et al. gay right’s cases, but well before the oral argument was held in April. We understood that, whatever the court ultimately decided and however the country looked afterward, our Fringe performances would follow that decision. So a clear-eyed and articulate review of the humanity behind the issue was a good idea.
Why should I care?
These plays are ultimately about love in the moment between the end of courtship and the beginning of happily ever after. Like all brides and grooms, these couples have the usual wedding problems to solve that cause fights, tears, laughter and drama: legalities, connecting flights to destination weddings, family interference, table place cards, moral imperatives, reception venues, the definition of lifetime commitments, and the meaning of promises. They are instantly recognizable as people we know, our relatives, friends, coworkers, neighbors.
Justify your show’s existence in haiku form.
‘Til death do us part.
Yes for them. Now, yes for us.
Loving. And married.
Questions? Comments? Enraged invective? Check out my answers to occasionally asked questions in Notes on Notes, or the contact info linked from that page!