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Aisle Seat 

Wednesday, Aug 28 1996
Male Pride, Continued
Three weeks ago, I wrote about New Conservatory Theater Center's second annual Pride Season, and the complete absence of women in the program (see "Pride -- For Men Only?" Aug. 7). Executive Director Ed Decker explained that the women's portion of "Sexy Shorts" in the first season was a financial disaster, but conceded that the lack of interest by lesbians might have been caused by the fact that only three of the seven plays were written by women, and all of them were directed by a man. Decker also suggested that the success of the men's program was due in part to the fact that "gay men have theater in their souls."

That line caused Michelle A. Bohrer to groan (via e-mail): "[O]h, pleeze ... gay men want to see NAKED gay men on stage. It's a bit more validating to support local theatre than to go to the Campus Theater, I suppose. ... I truly wonder if it's a fad ... all these naked gay boy plays, or if this is the direction for gay theatre because it helps pay the bills." Bohrer attended "Women's Sexy Shorts" "and they weren't that sexy," but she hopes that NCT "will stay true to producing a women's season."

Dean Backus argues that " 'Shorts' -- like 'Jumping the Broom' [another effort at gay and lesbian short plays produced at Theater Rhinoceros] wound up with several lesbian pieces written by gay men for the simple reason that there was 1) either no other material submitted, or 2) it was not stage-worthy material." It was not that either theater "purposefully excluded [a] lesbian theater presence; no presence was forthcoming."

I called Adele Prandini, artistic director of Theater Rhinoceros, to get her take on the great lesbian play conundrum. Prandini agrees that "it's much harder to find lesbian plays. You have to work harder to find lesbian material." But she argues that the chief fault for that difficulty is sexism. "Women aren't encouraged to be writers, and audiences are more willing to see and to pay for men's work. Women are struggling against that, and against the current backlash toward women and people of color. But at Rhino, we're proud of our level of diversity."

Hot Pants Homo, a sort of story theater for adults, continues through Aug. 31 at Lavender Lounge Gallery. Director Allen Sawyer says, "We have more sex onstage than any other play, but we keep our clothes on." Imagine Jack Webb performing a pulp novel about Oscar Wilde. Call 673-8335 for tickets. ... Bay Area Theatersports' Merry Wives of Windsor opens Wednesday, Aug. 21, at the Bayfront. Call 824-8220. ... ACT's Young Conservatory (for ages 8-18) and Studio ACT (for adults) are currently enrolling students for their fall sessions. Call 834-3286 for info.

By Deborah Peifer

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Deborah Peifer


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