Last weekend I was fortunate to attend a production of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof at Lansing Community College. What an interesting and enlightening experience it was to watch a show whose main plot revolved around the forbidden secret of a man possibly having had a relationship with another man. This simple fact was enough to drive the main character, and all those around him, into a frenzy of panic, hatred, distrust, lies, and self-loathing. And I imagine the play was effective for today’s audiences for two reasons: playwright Tennessee Williams wrote a damn good play, and to act as a signpost as to where we’ve been, and the work we still have to do when it comes to understanding our differences.
Next Fall joins the ranks of Cat On A Hot Tin Roof as another signpost. As the world struggles to decide where it stands on Proposition 8, whether the Tyler Clementi/Dharun Ravi verdict was appropriate, or the ever-evolving battle as to what the bible says about homosexuality, it is important to consider just how far we’ve come since 1955 (when Cat was first produced for the stage) when even to SAY the word “gay” was not allowed.
Only now we have different, perhaps more complex issues to tackle, and "Next Fall" puts us squarely inside that argument, in a very personal way. Don’t worry, the show isn’t going to take sides – it doesn’t condemn homosexuals, or make Christians out to be unreasonable zealots. It is in fact much cloudier than that, which is a pretty honest depiction of the world today. It hopefully will send you out of the theatre considering exactly how we feel about that slippery old adage: “hate the sin, love the sinner”. And more specifically, how do we move forward with implementing that ideology when the “sin” is our sexuality?
I’ve been looking forward to working on this play all season, and my tremendous cast and crew have made the experience far exceed my expectations. If you come to the show, you'll see an ensemble of committed, caring, intelligent, and talented performers, and I offer them my greatest thanks for spending the last month with me exploring this play. To our audiences, thank you for being so brave, every time you come to experience a Peppermint Creek play. We recognize that you may not always know the show, but that you crave the opportunity to engage in theatre that will challenge you to ask questions, to talk to each other, and to try and figure out how to make positive change in our society. We value you. And we look forward to seeing you at the theatre.