Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Dreamwell brings Mae West's The Drag to stage

Dreamwell - Dreamwell Theatre will present The Drag, a play written in the 1920's by screen legend and sex symbol Mae West. The Drag tells the story of Rolly Kingsbury—a judge’s son and heir to the family ironworks business—whose marriage is crumbling around the secret of a past affair with a man, a budding interest in someone new, and an affiliation with a very “out” drag community. The play presents a fascinating debate about homosexuality as the judge, a doctor and host of other characters weigh in on the situation.

The show culminates in a vivacious drag ball with live drag performances where almost anything can happen — and just might!

In The Drag — which opened to an “avalanche of condemnation,” as one biographer put it — West argued that homosexuality had no class identification. The Drag was one of the first plays to portray gay men in a sympathetic light. Prior to The Drag, homosexual characters were often objects of “play” and more comedic additions to a cast. Mae West’s intention was to give gay characters a “voice” and drew on the exuberance of the drag queens who had become her friends and “sisters.”

Despite the groundbreaking subject matter for its time, The Drag presents a slightly contracted view of homosexuality, which today’s audiences should find interesting. Mae West believed some homosexuals were born as “women trapped in men's bodies” and should be tolerated, and that others adopted homosexual behavior later in life. West deemed the latter “unacceptable.” Audiences should enjoy the 1920's bawdy humor and the fabulous drag attire, but leave with something to think about as the two “types” of homosexuals are examined and analyzed.

Dreamwell found The Drag to be a fitting selection for its “Season of Inciting Theatre” because it was shut down when initially produced and never even opened on Broadway. Also, the play was written and directed by a woman in a time when women weren’t often encouraged to write and produce plays.

Chuck Dufano, president of Dreamwell, will direct, assisted by Vicki Krajewski. The cast includes several veteran and new faces from the community.

The Drag was chosen to coincide with Gay Pride festivities during the month of June.

“It's a chance for today’s LGBT population to see how far we've come in the way of the social mindset, as how familiar some of the struggles are to our own today,” says Dufano. “And things might get a little bizarre...which is all in keeping with any good gay pride festival.”

1 comment:

Mae West NYC said...

YEA! Come up and see Mae, honey! You'll be glad you did.