Boston Theater Company Brings Fresh Queer Voices to the Stage with Upcoming Festival

Kilian Melloy READ TIME: 6 MIN.

Boston's theater scene is about to welcome a new tradition with the inaugural edition of Boston Theater Company's Queer Voices Festival.

Seven new 10-minute plays, all written by members of the LGBTQ+ community, have been selected for the festival. Included in the lineup are Bailey Jordan Garcia's "Thanks for the Mammaries!" Stephan Kaplan's "Right Field of Dreams," John Mabey's "Little Black Dress," De'Aveyon's "All I Want for Christmas," Elijah Punzal's "Sharing Slices, or The Unfortunate Way I Still Love You," Patrick Riviere's "Remembering When I Used to Remember," and Emma CR Skinner's "Frigid."

Three directors will bring the plays to life: Lyndsay Allen Cox (she/they), Danny Bolton (he/him/his), and Jo Michael Rezes (they/them/theirs).

BTC has been bringing fresh stories and new perspectives to Boston's stages for ten years, including the 2019 production of its original work "Finish Line: A Documentary Play about the 2013 Boston Marathon," which focuses on the Boston Marathon bombing.

BTC's Joey Frangieh, who directed "Finish Line" and produces the Queer Voices Festival with "Finish Line" co-writer Lisa Rafferty, told EDGE that BTC is almost unique in its twin focuses on theater and athletics. As part of that dual focus, BTC sponsors an annual 5K run, the Road of Rainbows run, each Pride month.

EDGE caught up with Joey Frangieh, who filled us in on the inaugural Queer Voices Festival, what went into finding the seven short plays in its lineup, and what the hopes are for the festival to become an ongoing annual event.

Participants in the "Road to Rainbow" event in June, 2023

EDGE: Can you say a bit about why you and Lisa Rafferty decided to produce the Queer Voices Festival?

Joey Frangieh: Our mission with Boston Theater Company is to create. We're dedicated to creating thoughtful experiences for with and about marginalized communities, and we have a particular focus on the LGBTQ+ community. We're interested in amplifying voices that we feel are often left out.

We do an annual Pride 5k called the Road of Rainbows, which is a gender-neutral, all-inclusive 5k celebration. It's a really fun event we've done for three years in a row, and we always lose a ton of money doing it. For the first time last year, we had a little bit of funds leftover. We knew that every dollar that we had left over we wanted to put towards amplifying queer voices. We were going back and forth on, "Do we pick a queer play [to produce], or what we do?" We decided that a 10-minute play festival would give seven playwrights the opportunity to have their words put on stage with professional directors and professional actors.

EDGE: Boston Theatre Company has been around for a while. I remember when you produced an original documentary play about the Boston Marathon bombing?

Joey Frangieh: Yes, that is correct. Boston Theater Company produced "Finish Line," the untold story of the heroes of the Boston Marathon. We've been around for 10 years, but this is our first artistic project since COVID. We took a massive hit during COVID, and this is our return to producing. We're very excited.

EDGE: What went into selecting these seven plays?

Joey Frangieh: It's a submission-based festival. We asked folks to submit their plays, and we ended up with 75 plays. We had a diverse group of people from the entire LGBTQ+ spectrum read all 75 plays to end up with the seven [we're producing].

Joey Frangieh

EDGE: So you just opened the door and said, "Let's see what we get"?

Joey Frangieh: That's exactly what we did. And we did that very intentionally. The submissions were also completely free. There were no questions when they submitted; it was literally, "Upload your play on this link by this date, and every single play that is submitted will be read by multiple people, and all of those people identify on the LGBTQ+ spectrum." We wanted it to be completely fair, and to give every single playwright the opportunity to have their voice be featured in Queer Voices.

EDGE: 10-minute plays must be very difficult to produce.

Joey Frangieh: I'm blown away by these plays, because these playwrights are so talented, and they have such a unique and important stories that they're telling. Getting [a full story] into 10 minutes – having an arc, having character, having development, having a beginning, a middle, and an end – is no small feat. But in our society, we have a quick attention span, so I think that 10-minute plays and short little pieces of art are really valuable.

EDGE: You are working with three directors for the seven plays, which means that everyone's getting at least two plays to direct. Did you reach out to these directors? Or did they volunteer and say, "I've really got to be part of this"?

Joey Frangieh: We reached out to them. Lindsey, Joe, and Danny are three of the best directors. Once we read the plays, we knew we had to get the top to directors. We can't think of any three better folks to put these words on stage.

EDGE: This being the inaugural Queer Voices festival, what hopes do you have for subsequent years and bringing it back for more festivals?

Joey Frangieh: We say "inaugural" because we're really hopeful and excited to continue the tradition, especially as about a rainbow that grows, you know, we want our voices to grow. We really believe that there is a need for queer stories to be told by queer people. [If] we could have chosen all 75 plays, it would have been fantastic. That inspired us to commit to making this a multi-year festival, because there are so many more queer stories that need to be told.

EDGE: What other projects do you have going on?

Joey Frangieh: We have our education program [in which] we bring six performers throughout all of Massachusetts and perform Shakespeare for different schools. We've been doing that for about 10 years. And then, one of our flagship events is Road of Rainbows. In the Boston Theater Company, we have our artistic, our education, and our athletic wings. We find it unique that we're one of the few arts organizations in the country that has an athletic wing as well. And that flagship event in our athletic wing is Rainbow Roads, which is entering its fourth year this year. We're really passionate about supporting queer artists in Boston through Queer Voices and through Pride, and throughout the year.

The First Annual Queer Voices Festival will take run March 8-10 at the Plaza Theatre of the Boston Center for the Arts. For more information, follow this link. For more on the Road of Rainbows Pride 5K run, follow this link.

by Kilian Melloy , EDGE Staff Reporter

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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