ALL OF US
How do we combat the current epidemic of prejudice and bullying of gay high school students? One way is to use the power of storytelling to humanize the lives of gay, lesbian, bi-sexual and transgender teens. Designed to be performed by and for high school students ALL of Us raises awareness of the discrimination, hatred and violence GLBT students face in their schools and communities. Navigate the treacherous world of being gay in high school – growing up and coming out – coping with love, hate, violence and hope. From cities, small towns, suburbs and rural areas, an ensemble of gay teens reveals their stories and the heartbreaking consequences of being marked as different. Nick, from a southern religious family is sent to straight camp to turn him into an “ex-gay.” Jess, a tom-boy looking for love, finds it in an unexpected ally. Justin, from a wealthy family in New York, discovers another America and begins a grassroots fight for gay rights. Shea, who ends up on the streets; Chris, a transgender female to male, searches in vain for someone like her; and Frank, the lovable gay boy who falls through the cracks. These stories reveal the inner lives of GLBT teenagers and ask “all of us” to stand up for their rights. Simple to produce, requiring little to no technical requirements, this powerful play is perfect for any school organization that cares about fighting discrimination.
KC STAR REVIEW | ‘All of Us’ at the Coterie Theatre
By ROBERT TRUSSELL
The Coterie Theatre is technically a children’s theater but it’s never been squeamish about taking on tough subject matter.So this year the nonprofit company offers a KC Fringe Festival show about the social, emotional and psychological pressures of being gay — or suspected of being gay — in high school. The show, “All of Us,” is a PG-rated piece by Laurie Brooks. A number of the young actors in this show are alumni of the Coterie’s School for Theatre Exploration, which offers classes in acting, playwriting and comedy.
Several of Brooks’ works have been produced by the Coterie through the years, including “The Wrestling Season,” which dealt with themes similar to those found in “All of Us.”
“All of Us,” directed by Jeff Church and Meghann Henry, has a sort of kaleidoscopic structure in which the ever-shifting focus allows us to meet a diverse group of young people, each with a unique story. There’s Marshall (Charlie Meredith), the high-school quarterback who’s gay; Justin (Bradley Turner), who played with Barbie dolls when he was a little kid and who endures the culture shock of moving to Salt Lake City from New York; Tyler (Ian Vonfange), who survives the singular challenge of growing up gay in rural Iowa; Chris (Rachel Shelby), a transsexual; Jess (Meredith Shea), a “tomboy” in love with her best friend Allie (Kendall Ryan); Nick (Alex Stompoly), an Alabaman from a family of evangelicals; Columbus, Ohio, friends Madison (Cydney Carl) and Frank (Kyle Wallen), who help organize a gay-straight alliance; Shea (Sarah Jordan) from Bellingham, WA.; and a character known only as the Kid (Evan Michael Haas), a rapper who channels his anger at the status quo with hard-edged rhymes.
This show ends optimistically, enunciating the familiar children’s theater themes of inclusion and tolerance, but some of the details of the kids’ experiences are brutal. A father pays thugs to beat up his gay son. A girl is gang-raped and told by her attackers that the experience will make her a “real woman.”. A kid is sent to an evangelical camp where he’s trained to cut himself off from his sexuality through the use of electrodes. This is sobering material that packs a punch.The play is broken up into sections with stylized choreographic interludes. The young actors are fully committed to the material. And what could have been a state-the-obvious plea for tolerance becomes a nuanced portrait of real life.