Editor’s Note: Brandon Behrmann is a new guest correspondent for the blog and he has provided a short recap of yesterday’s (Jan. 16) premiere of ‘This Is Now’ written by Matthew Ivan Bennett, the resident playwright at Plan-B Theatre. The 30-minute play was commissioned to mark the 10th anniversary of Equality Utah and its mission of eliminating the many discriminatory barriers that target sexual orientation. The metaphor of the complex father-son relationship provides an important symbolic representation of Equality Utah’s work in the patient, difficult, stubborn, and gradually enlightening evolution of a deeply paternalistic culture that only is beginning to recognize the terms of true acceptance and understanding. It shows how the sharply contentious sociocultural and sociopolitical landscape has been etched into the most intimate interactions of our daily lives.
Below is Brandon’s recap. Photos are courtesy of Rick Pollock.
Matthew Bennett’s new short play, ‘This Is Now’ is a fitting way to mark an important milestone in Equality Utah’s public mission. The play featured the past and present stages in a father-and-son relationship where issues of equality and justice, including the right of same-sex marriage, are explored in the most personal territory possible. Bennett’s play masterfully showcased the importance of support and understanding for both sides, especially in those relationships closest to us.
Bennett’s play, once again, reinforces the fantastic capacity of the creative arts to communicate messages that ring sympathetically and empathetically with the audience. And, while it was commissioned for an anniversary celebration of Equality Utah, the play also fits precisely into Plan-B Theatre’s own 20th anniversary season-long celebration. Next month, the company will premiere Bennett’s ‘Mesa Verde’ which explores the relationship between estranged sisters in their quest for hope and healing. And, in the spring, Eric Samuelsen’s ‘Borderlands’ explores a diversified realm of Mormon culture and true identities in relationships.
‘This Is Now’ epitomizes the symbiosis of two important community institutions whose missions ultimately converge in shaping the public discussions we have about these issues. Plan-B’s productions leave the territory open ended so that the conversation continues long after the theater has gone dark. For Equality Utah, the artistic expressions provide empowering and revealing cues to help shape and position their messages that are beginning to pierce through the intolerant, non-affirming noise often found when issues of gay rights and human justice are debated in Utah.
Since 2001, Equality Utah has grown steadily to become the state’s largest organization dedicated to securing equal rights for all individuals, regardless of their sexual orientations and identities. The organization counts many other community groups among its partners, including Plan-B, sthe Human Rights Education Center and the Utah chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, just to name a few.
Equality Utah’s mission undoubtedly has become broad, raising the profile of awareness for aspects including bias crimes, HIV/AIDS healthcare, marriage/partner recognition, non-discrimination, parenting and family, racial and economic justice, transgender and youth services. Most recently, it has set in motion the platform for a statewide trend of nondiscrimination ordinances being enacted in the state’s largest cities and important centers of population and economic activity.
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