imc indymedia

Los Angeles Indymedia : Activist News

white themeblack themered themetheme help
About Us Contact Us Calendar Publish RSS
Features
latest news
best of news
syndication
commentary


KILLRADIO

VozMob

ABCF LA

A-Infos Radio

Indymedia On Air

Dope-X-Resistance-LA List

LAAMN List




IMC Network:

Original Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: ambazonia canarias estrecho / madiaq kenya nigeria south africa canada: hamilton london, ontario maritimes montreal ontario ottawa quebec thunder bay vancouver victoria windsor winnipeg east asia: burma jakarta japan korea manila qc europe: abruzzo alacant andorra antwerpen armenia athens austria barcelona belarus belgium belgrade bristol brussels bulgaria calabria croatia cyprus emilia-romagna estrecho / madiaq euskal herria galiza germany grenoble hungary ireland istanbul italy la plana liege liguria lille linksunten lombardia london madrid malta marseille nantes napoli netherlands nice northern england norway oost-vlaanderen paris/Île-de-france patras piemonte poland portugal roma romania russia saint-petersburg scotland sverige switzerland thessaloniki torun toscana toulouse ukraine united kingdom valencia latin america: argentina bolivia chiapas chile chile sur cmi brasil colombia ecuador mexico peru puerto rico qollasuyu rosario santiago tijuana uruguay valparaiso venezuela venezuela oceania: adelaide aotearoa brisbane burma darwin jakarta manila melbourne perth qc sydney south asia: india mumbai united states: arizona arkansas asheville atlanta austin baltimore big muddy binghamton boston buffalo charlottesville chicago cleveland colorado columbus dc hawaii houston hudson mohawk kansas city la madison maine miami michigan milwaukee minneapolis/st. paul new hampshire new jersey new mexico new orleans north carolina north texas nyc oklahoma philadelphia pittsburgh portland richmond rochester rogue valley saint louis san diego san francisco san francisco bay area santa barbara santa cruz, ca sarasota seattle tampa bay tennessee urbana-champaign vermont western mass worcester west asia: armenia beirut israel palestine process: fbi/legal updates mailing lists process & imc docs tech volunteer projects: print radio satellite tv video regions: oceania united states topics: biotech

Surviving Cities

www.indymedia.org africa: canada: quebec east asia: japan europe: athens barcelona belgium bristol brussels cyprus germany grenoble ireland istanbul lille linksunten nantes netherlands norway portugal united kingdom latin america: argentina cmi brasil rosario oceania: aotearoa united states: austin big muddy binghamton boston chicago columbus la michigan nyc portland rochester saint louis san diego san francisco bay area santa cruz, ca tennessee urbana-champaign worcester west asia: palestine process: fbi/legal updates process & imc docs projects: radio satellite tv
printable version - js reader version - view hidden posts - tags and related articles

MOXIE?s Poster Boys at Diversionary: Funny ? and More

by Mark Gabrish Conlan/Zenger's Newsmagazine Saturday, Jul. 09, 2011 at 4:56 PM
mgconlan@earthlink.net (619) 688-1886 P. O. Box 50134, San Diego, CA 92165

Poster Boys, now playing in a MOXIE/Diversionary Theatre co-production at 4545 Park Boulevard in University Heights, is typical MOXIE fare: a great script (having its U.S. premiere) that makes sly, insinuating comments on sexual orientation, religion, advertising and the (lack of) integrity associated with it, and the ways major corporations try to whitewash (or greenwash) their images and seem more progressive than they are to attract our business. It runs through July 31; see it.

MOXIE?s Poster Boys ...
banner_posterboys_2_copy.a.jpg, image/jpeg, 600x250

MOXIE’s Poster Boys at Diversionary: Funny … and More

by MARK GABRISH CONLAN

Copyright © 2011 by Mark Gabrish Conlan for Zenger’s Newsmagazine • All rights reserved

You wouldn’t know it from the press materials on Poster Boys, the current U.S. premiere co-production of Diversionary and MOXIE at the Diversionary space, 4545 Park Boulevard in University Heights, but the play is inspired by a true story. In 2003 Vancity, a credit union based in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, mounted an ad campaign that tried to build business by highlighting — or shamelessly exploiting, depending on your point of view — Vancity’s Queer members. The ads featured photos of same-sex couples and bore the slogan, “I want to bank with people who value all partnerships.” The Vancouver archdiocese of the Roman Catholic Church responded by pulling out of a school program sponsored by Vancity.

Playwright Michele Riml was working at Grey Global Group, the advertising agency that had created Vancity’s “value all partnerships” campaign, and she saw a great idea for a play about the controversy. Only it took her a while to write it, she told interviewers before Poster Boys had its world premiere in Vancouver in March 2008, because she first had to work through her anger at the incident. “For me, anger is not a good place to write from,” she said. As she began to work out her plot, she created the central character of Caroline, a 40-something ad executive at the Zenspiration agency who’s angling for a promotion to vice-president even though her personal life is a mess.

Caroline sees the chance for a career breakthrough when the executives at the Clearwater Credit Union in Orlando, Florida decide to do a series of ads promoting “cultural diversity” — which, it soon develops, is code for “Gay.” She instructs her ambitious assistant and out-of-office boy-toy, Brad (Justin Lang), to come up with the perfect Gay poster boy for Clearwater’s campaign. Brad brings back an unprepossessing middle-aged man named Jack (John Anderson), who shows up at Zenspiration in the sweat shirt and blue bike shorts he was wearing when Brad ran into him. Caroline is unexpectedly (at least if you haven’t read the promotional material for the play) on edge about getting involved with Jack professionally — because, it turns out, 13 years previously she was involved with Jack personally, not only as his lover but as his fiancée. The two had actually got as far as setting a wedding date before Jack decided he’d had enough and came out as Gay — “He wanted to wear a purple cummerbund,” Caroline grimly jokes; “that should have been the giveaway” — and Caroline has been gun-shy about anything resembling a serious relationship ever since.

The plot thickens when Caroline and Brad realize that a photo layout of one man really doesn’t say “Gay.” They decide they need two men in a committed relationship and rather nervously ask if Jack has a partner. He does: Carson (Charles Maze), a rising young architect who’s been with Jack for five years. Carson is also a hard-core Roman Catholic who insists on saying grace before every meal he and Jack share, and given his church’s belief (stated 27 years ago by the current Pope) that homosexuality is “an objective moral disorder” and their extensive donations to anti-Queer political candidates and ballot measures, being a Queer Catholic is close to the mother of all cognitive dissonances. The plot of Poster Boys turns on Jack’s and Carson’s discomfort with the process by which they’re made over into images for Queer equality and both their appearances and backgrounds are remodeled into commodities that will sell a product.

The promotion line for the Diversionary/MOXIE production — “An advertising executive’s ‘diversity’ campaign runs afoul of the Catholic Church. She can handle that. What she can’t handle is that one of the poster boys is her ex-fiancé” — suggests that Poster Boys will either be a sitcom or a farce, and that it will turn into a romantic triangle (or a romantic quadrilateral) as Caroline and Jack find themselves re-attracted to each other and Carson gets jealous. Nothing of the sort happens; though Poster Boys is quite funny it’s also a much richer drama than the ads for it suggest. Riml clearly regards Jack as definitively Gay — whatever drew him to Caroline in the first place, which is kept ambiguous, it’s clear he’s committed not only to Carson but to a Gay identity and, if anything is going to break them up, doubt about Jack’s sexual orientation is not going to be it.

Riml’s great gift as a playwright is a kind of sly subtlety that enables her to say quite a lot — about advertising, capitalism in general, the social creation of “reality,” emotional relationships and how people react differently to them as they age — without hammering the audience over the head with it. In one scene we see Jack and Carson at dinner — and then, in a staging maneuver director Delicia Turner Sonnenberg makes look more like a quick cut in a film than anything we’d expect in live theatre — Caroline is in Carson’s place and the scene becomes a dream of the marriage they could have had. Riml’s gag is that Jack and Carson are behaving like a typical straight couple — the issues in their relationship aren’t sex but money and careers (indeed, we get the distinct impression that whatever sexual fires brought them together are pretty well banked by now) — while Caroline is behaving like a stereotypical middle-aged Gay man, reliving her youth by seeking a much younger male partner for frenzied, emotionless sex.

Throughout the play, Caroline is bedeviled by two authoritative voices coaxing her, sometimes to the point of browbeating her. One comes from her boss at Zenspiration, Marty (who was an unseen voice in the Vancouver production but, in an inspired touch from director Turner Sonnenberg, is seen here as an image as well as a voice, supposedly in wireless communication with Caroline via computer, though the program doesn’t credit the actor who plays him), who’s hectoring her to come up with the “branding” for the Clearwater account that will turn it from a one-shot ad to something that will make people what Caroline calls “brand believers” in Clearwater. The other is a character identified only as “The Woman,” whom Riml stipulates must be played in drag by the same actor who plays Carson, who materializes in Caroline’s consciousness (usually accompanied by memories of airplane flights — Caroline is chronically airsick but her job requires her to fly a lot) and gives her a ragbag of advice, some good (like “be yourself”) and some bad (like “take Botox”).

Poster Boys is an engaging script that builds to a riveting climax in which the whole task of pushing Jack and Carson as the ideal Gay couple flashes back to Caroline’s own trauma when Jack left her and declared himself Gay, while Jack and Carson both rebel against the whole idea of going through a wedding ceremony sponsored by a corporation. It seemed to be leading up to an ending in which Jack and Carson would have realized that, like it or not, in today’s hyper-capitalist age virtually the only way to get a political or social message out to an audience large enough to matter is to get a corporation or a rich person to sponsor it — and so they would go through the showcase wedding, Clearwater would get their branding (and the boost to their business they were hoping for) and Caroline her promotion — or maybe younger, cuter, more energetic Brad would have back-stabbed her out of it and got the vice-presidency himself. Instead Riml resorted to a clichéd finish straight out of the 1945 novel The Hucksters (and the 1947 film based on it) and quite a few other stories since that have dealt with advertising and how one can’t succeed in it and still maintain a conscience.

But the disappointing conclusion doesn’t invalidate what’s gone before — or the marvelous work MOXIE’s and Diversionary’s people have done bringing Riml’s finely honed play to life. Director Turner Sonnenberg has staged it with such precision that, as noted above, at times it seems more like a movie than a play, and she and lighting director Michelle Caron have worked out a series of cues that allows us to follow multiple planes of action without ever having to wonder which we’re supposed to think is more important. Turner Sonnenberg has also cast the play perfectly — indeed, if the reviews of the Vancouver premiere online are to be believed, she cast at least one part better than they did. Vancouver critic Colin Thomas said Carson was “as camp as a row of tents” — but fortunately that’s not how he’s played here. Charles Maze delivers a rich characterization that projects Carson as proud of his career and also his homemaking skills, accepting himself as Gay while still being burdened by the clash between his sincere belief in the faith of his fathers and the nasty things it has to say about him as a Gay man. He’s equally good — and non-campy — as “The Woman,” delivering his lines matter-of-factly and without a hint of flounce.

The other cast members are equally fine. Julie Anderson Sachs nails both Caroline’s assertiveness and her underlying vulnerability. She’s a genuinely attractive woman but, thanks to Caron’s merciless lighting and a minimal makeup job (oddly, here as in the past MOXIE doesn’t credit a makeup artist), we see her crow’s feet and the lines on her face and feel for her fears about advancing age. John Anderson is good in a befuddled, what-have-I-got-myself-into? mode as Jack, and he achieves pathos when he has to admit that he too shaded his background (representing himself as co-owner of an independent bookstore when in fact he’s just the store manager), though Riml rather underwrote the character and didn’t make him strong enough for us to see what attracted either Caroline or Carson to him. Justin Lang is genuinely hot and nails Brad’s irrepressible energy while keeping us guessing whether he’s really attracted to Caroline or just screwing her to boost his own career.

The action of Poster Boys is punctuated by a series of pop songs played over the theatre’s sound system, and sometimes sung by the cast (the scene in which Caroline and Jack perform “I Got You, Babe” at a karaoke bar, with Caroline taking Sonny’s part and Jack taking Cher’s, is especially precious). Some of the records are by k. d. lang, who’s actually mentioned in the script, while others are genuinely surprising — Eric Carmen’s tacky 1970’s power-pop ballad “All By Myself” becomes the center of one of the play’s most powerful scenes. Sound designer Tom Jones proves effective at D.J.’ing all this music and also supplying effects like the airplane noises that accompany “The Woman”’s appearances. The play takes place on a simple set — or rather a pair of sets, one for Caroline’s office and one for Jack’s and Conrad’s dining room, which the action cuts back and forth between — ably rendered by Matt Scott with aid from “media designer” Luke Olsen’s back-wall projections. Costume designer Jeannie Galioto has outfitted Caroline with convincing simulacra of the designer dresses she boasts of wearing, and David Medina’s props are convincing if not especially challenging.

Poster Boys is a must-see, a typical MOXIE production ¬— a powerful script that takes aim at some of our most cherished stereotypes of sexual orientation (in general artists have been a lot more flexible than the Queer community’s political leaders about how people can change from opposite-sex to same-sex relationships — or, more controversially, the other way around), religious belief, capitalism, personal integrity and authenticity. Riml’s play is expertly realized by director Turner Sonnenberg and an excellent cast and crew, though there’s one irony she probably didn’t intend: on the inside front cover of the program is a paid ad from Wells Fargo Bank with a photo of two men (considerably hotter-looking than John Anderson and Charles Maze!) in the street, leaning into each other in an unmistakable “we’re together” pose, with copy boasting that Wells Fargo has “made significant contributions to LGBT organizations over the past 20 years.” In other words, they’re using the program to sell themselves in the same preposterous ways the play itself so hilariously and devastatingly ridicules!

Poster Boys runs through Sunday, July 31 at Diversionary Theatre, 4545 Park Boulevard in University Heights. A MOXIE Theatre co-production. Performances are 7:30 p.m. Thursdays, 8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. Sundays, with special performances Monday, July 18 at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, July 31 at 7 p.m. For tickets and other information, call (619) 220-0097 or visit www.diversionary.org

Report this post as:

Local News

GUIDE TO REBEL CITY LOS ANGELES AVAILABLE A12 5:39PM

lausd whistle blower A10 11:58PM

Website Upgrade A10 3:02AM

Help KCET and UCLA identify 60s-70s Chicano images A04 1:02PM

UCLA Luskin: Casting Youth Justice in a Different Light A02 11:58AM

Change Links April 2018 A01 11:27AM

Nuclear Shutdown News March 2018 M31 6:57PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 7:00PM

Join The Protest Rally in Glendale on April 10, 2018! M29 6:38PM

Spring 2018 National Immigrant Solidarity Network News Alert! M19 2:02PM

Anti-Eviction Mapping Project Shows Shocking Eviction Trends in L.A. M16 5:40PM

Steve Mnuchin video at UCLA released M15 12:34AM

Actress and Philanthropist Tanna Frederick Hosts Project Save Our Surf Beach Clean Ups M06 12:10PM

After Being Told He's 'Full of Sh*t' at School Event, Mnuchin Demands UCLA Suppress Video M02 11:44AM

Resolution of the Rent Strike in Boyle Heights M01 6:28PM

What Big Brother Knows About You and What You Can Do About It M01 3:30PM

Step Up As LAPD Chief Charlie Beck Steps Down F14 2:44PM

Our House Grief Support Center Hosts 9th Annual Run For Hope, April 29 F13 12:51PM

Don’t let this LA County Probation Department overhaul proposal sit on the shelf F13 11:04AM

Echo Park Residents Sue LA Over Controversial Development F12 8:51AM

Former Signal Hill police officer pleads guilty in road-rage incident in Irvine F09 10:25PM

Calif. Police Accused of 'Collusion' With Neo-Nazis After Release of Court Documents F09 7:14PM

Center for the Study of Political Graphics exhibit on Police Abuse posters F07 9:50AM

City Agrees to Settle Lawsuit Claiming Pasadena Police Officer Had His Sister Falsely Arre F04 3:17PM

Professor's Study Highlights Health Risks of Urban Oil Drilling F04 12:42PM

Claims paid involving Pasadena Police Department 2014 to present F04 10:52AM

Pasadenans - get your license plate reader records from police F03 11:11PM

LA Times Homicide Report F03 1:57PM

More Local News...

Other/Breaking News

Xyloglossie attitudinale A23 8:07AM

Shadowgun Legends Hack and Cheats A23 7:24AM

What does the Quran Say About Islamic Dress?? A21 4:15PM

Biodiversité ou la nature privatisée A20 11:22AM

The Market is a Universal Totalitarian Religion A20 7:14AM

Book Available about Hispanics and US Civil War by National Park Service A19 5:52PM

The Shortwave Report 04/20/18 Listen Globally! A19 4:01PM

The Republican 'Prolife' Party Is the Party of War, Execution, and Bear Cub Murder A19 11:48AM

Neurogenèse involutive A18 9:21AM

Paraphysique de la dictature étatique A16 10:13AM

Book Review: "The New Bonapartists" A16 3:45AM

The West Must Take the First Steps to Russia A14 12:25PM

Théorie générale de la révolution ou hommage à feu Mikhaïl Bakounine A14 3:30AM

The Shortwave Report 04/13/18 Listen Globally! A12 3:50PM

“Lost in a Dream” Singing Competition Winner to Be Chosen on April 15 for ,000 Prize! A12 3:48PM

The World Dependent on Central Banks A12 4:43AM

Ohio Governor Race: Dennis Kucinich & Richard Cordray Run Against Mike DeWine A11 9:40PM

March 2018 Honduras Coup Again Update A10 10:52PM

Apologie du zadisme insurrectionnel A10 3:33PM

ICE contract with license plate reader company A10 1:14PM

Palimpseste sisyphéen A09 11:23PM

Black Portraiture(S) IV: The Color of Silence...Cuba No...Cambridge Yes A09 5:32AM

Prohibiting Micro-Second Betting on the Exchanges A09 4:18AM

Prosecutors treat Muslims harsher than non-Muslims for the same crimes A08 10:33PM

Amy Goodman interview on cell phone safety A08 10:29PM

Mesa, Arizona police officer kills unarmed white man A08 9:50PM

Israeli leaders should be prosecuted for war crimes A08 9:48PM

Paraphysique de l'autorité A08 12:11AM

More Breaking News...
© 2000-2018 Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Unless otherwise stated by the author, all content is free for non-commercial reuse, reprint, and rebroadcast, on the net and elsewhere. Opinions are those of the contributors and are not necessarily endorsed by the Los Angeles Independent Media Center. Running sf-active v0.9.4 Disclaimer | Privacy