Coming together to respond to Orlando shooting this summer

When the attack happened on a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, this past summer, playwright Caridad Svich reached out to Local Theater Company to participate in a staging of After Orlando, an international “theater action” curated by our friend Caridad and her colleagues.

We love Caridad. Her belief in the power of theater to offer a platform for dialogue. Her ability to bring good people together to do something important. Her tremendous talent. It was an honor to be asked. We were eager to do something in solidarity with Orlando. We were also neck-deep in preparation for our production of The Firestorm.

What a huge gift it was when Denver’s Benchmark Theatre decided to move forward with producing After Orlando--which will benefit the Human Rights Campaign--on Monday, November 14 and Tuesday, November 15. One of Benchmark’s founding members, and Local associate artist, Kate Folkins invited us to participate. My first call was to actor Jim Walker, a man I find to be uncommonly intelligent and thoughtful.

Jim isn’t afraid of making bold choices, and he brings a ton of great ideas to the table. He agreed to let me direct him in a one-person play. Our contribution to the evening of short plays will be “The Human Traces” by British playwright Anders Lustgarten.

Lustgarten imagines the experience of the aftermath biohazard cleanup crew (a job I had in Seattle in for about two weeks in the 1990s before theater--thank god--interfered with my availability). On the job at the Pulse on June 12, Jim’s character is confronted with an ethical dilemma as he cleans-up what has been left behind.

Muddling about in such gory territory, Lustgarten’s play is actually quite hopeful and affirming of humanity. Jim and I are keeping the staging very simple and spare, putting the emphasis on Lustgarten’s words.

If there’s one thing we’ve learned this year, it is that words matter. If there’s one thing we’ve learned this week, it is that we also must come together. Dialogue. Listen. Take action. Breathe in the same space. Connect with one another. Let theater be a catalyst for conversation, and change. Please join us for these two-day benefit.

After Orlando: Denver will take place this Monday and Tuesday, Nov 14-15 at the Vintage Theatre, 1465 Dayton Street in Aurora. It includes readings of 12 short plays, with reception and silent auction benefitting Human Rights Campaign. In addition to Local, Benchmark has brought in collaborators from Athena Project, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Buntport Theater, Curious Theatre Company, Phamaly Theatre Company, Funky Little Theatre Company, Su Teatro and Vintage. The Denver Gay Men's Chorus will also perform. Get details and tickets here.