Sunday, October 29, 2017

Queer Teens Find a Home Onstage

How queer youth theatre groups are shaping, and saving, the lives of new generations of artists and activists.
Queer theatre and activism often go hand-in-hand. From Larry Kramer documenting the early days of the AIDS epidemic in The Normal Heart to Taylor Mac putting the outsiders of U.S. history centerstage in A 24-Decade History of Popular Music, there are countless examples of work in the queer theatre tradition that strive to, as Mac says, “dream the culture forward.”
While the more well-known artists/activists doing this work run the gamut from Yale professors to emerging rock stars, there’s one group of queer theatre activists that may be flying under the radar: teenagers. Across the country, theatre groups are working with queer youth and their allies to promote self-expression, engage communities, and inspire change through theatre.
“Our youth programming is over 50 percent of what we do on a daily basis,” says Evelyn Francis, director of programs for The Theater Offensive in Boston, whose True Colors: Out Youth Theaterprogram is the longest-running queer youth program in the country. “We’re working with young people all over the community, and we provide training in performing arts and social justice as well as leadership. We were founded in 1994, so we have a long history of building this work.”