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SCOTTISH PLAY SCOTT Questioning faith
by Scott C. Morgan, Windy City Times
2015-06-17

This article shared 2154 times since Wed Jun 17, 2015
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Gay playwright William Nedved hopes to get people talking with his drama Body + Blood. It concerns a young man who shocks his family and girlfriend when he announces seemingly out of the blue that he plans to become a Catholic priest.

"I was inspired to write this play because I'm gay and was raised Catholic," said Nedved. "And I think that many gay men, not just with Catholicism but any religion, grew up feeling a lot of shame for who they are and when they become adults they often flee the church."

Nedved said he personally disagrees with much of what Catholicism stands for, but he also has a reverence for it because he alternately sees some good things it can do for people—particularly one of his grandmothers who found great solace through her faith.

"Through this play, I wanted to take this story of someone wanting to willingly enter this world and explore all of my own complicated feelings about it," Nedved said. "The story is not solely about religion. It's definitely not a controversial play that people will feel attacked no matter where they feel spiritually. If you're a really religious person, I don't think you'll be offended by this play because it's also about what happens when you find a calling or some purpose to your life and it doesn't sit well with those around you."

Nedved specifically wrote Body + Blood for the very intimate Gift Theatre, since he is a co-founder of the company with actor/director Michael Patrick Thornton. In fact, a scene from the play was previously seen in Gift Theatre's 10, a production of one-acts in 2014.

Nedved also oversaw some workshop performances Body + Blood in Los Angeles, where he is now based, and he was encouraged by the audience reaction.

"After the play at post-show discussions, people really wanted to talk the play and they wanted to talk about their own experiences growing up and their own family's relationship to religion," Nedved said. "And even afterwards, I had people who wanted to hang out outside the theater and share their story, and I realized that that's the kind of play I wanted to write. I didn't purposefully set out to write a play that was going to get people talking, but I found that because I wrote the play to work out my own feelings. So what I'm looking forward to is being there and talking with audiences and just engaging with each other."

The world premiere of William Nedved's Body + Blood continues through Sunday, Aug. 9, at Gift Theatre, 4802 N. Milwaukee Ave. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays with 2:30 p.m. matinees on Sundays. Tickets are $20-$35; call 773-283-7071 or visit www.thegifttheatre.org for more information.

Tough to go back

Chay Yew has a difficult time revisiting his first play, Porcelain, which is currently receiving a Chicago revival at the Greenhouse Theatre Center courtesy of Prologue Theatre Company.

"It's a play that is still surprisingly raw for me because of how I was so young and I just poured everything out on the page," said Yew, a gay Singapore native with multiple skills as playwright, theater director and being the artistic director of Victory Gardens Theater, a role he assumed in 2011.

Porcelain looks at the shocking aftermath of a gay Chinese youth who develops an obsession with a "straight" guy he regularly meets up with for "cottaging" sessions in public lavatories. Yew originally wrote Porcelain as a screenplay for a student film before adapting it into a play. Porcelain premiered in London in a pub theater to rave reviews, prompting a transfer to the Royal Court Theatre for an award-winning run in 1992.

"I think Porcelain was a self-expression of any artist trying to figure out his own identity," Yew said, citing influences like Larry Kramer's The Normal Heart and the plays of David Henry Hwang that prompted him to write about a gay Asian character in the here and now.

In terms of his career as a playwright, Yew says he need to make time on top of all his other duties to complete two outstanding commissions that are due for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and one for Writers Theatre in Glencoe. But he's glad that Porcelain is still produced now and then and will be seen once again in Chicago.

"I'm very heartened to see that the play is still being done in colleges because it means a lot to younger people of color who are coming out," Yew said. "And what it means to find one's place not only in the gay community, but also in society at large."

Prologue Theatre Company's Porcelain continues through Sunday, July 12, at the Greenhouse Theater Center, 2257 N. Lincoln Ave. Tickets are $25; call 773-404-7336 or visit www.prologuetheatreco.org .


This article shared 2154 times since Wed Jun 17, 2015
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