Wave your rainbow flag and blast the Donna Summer! The Brown & Out Theater Festival is back!

by Angela Imperial

Staff Writer

pLAywriting in the city

The 2nd Annual Brown & Out Theater Festival is shimmying its way across Casa’s 0101 new stage with a collection of original short plays honoring the Latino/a LGBTQ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer) community.  The festival originated as a new play development project by producer/playwright Miguel Garcia in September of 2011 while he was mentored by Casa 0101’s Artistic Director Josefina Lopez.  It received such a positive response that it was brought back this year, and with good cause.  Mr. Garcia, inspired by the rise in suicide rates among Latino/a LGBTQ youth, set out to create a safe, tolerant space where artists could create works for the stage based on their experiences.  The result is a combination of stories: some funny, some intentionally stereotypical, some very real, a few heartwarming and one particularly hilarious take on Charlie Brown’s Thanksgiving dinner.

On a simple set of wooden panels painted all the colors of the rainbow, these familiar stories are given life by the ensemble cast of 10 talented actors, most of the whom played up to 4 roles. The high energy of the interchanging cast and the pop music that played throughout the show gave it a certain Saturday Night Live-meets-Studio 54 feel.  While none of the stories went too deep, some pressing issues were addressed – cyber-bulling, suicide, intolerance, adoption, domestic violence – yet none to the degree where the audience was left feeling bombarded.  Under the direction of Nina Harada, Hector Rodriguez, and Corky Dominguez the cast does a fabulous job of transitioning from one character to the next. The actors were dedicated and confident; all seemed focused while having fun.  Henry Alberto was charming as “Gary the Gaytino” while Natalie Camunas and Evelyn Lorena got hot and heavy in a very sexy, playful skit about married life. The three also contributed to the festival as playwrights.  Miriam Peniche shined as she embraced each role leaving the audience laughing hysterically. The ensemble was rounded out by Blanca M. Melchor, MJ Silva, Martin Morales, Hector A. Garcia, Andres Rey Solorzano and Andrew Villarreal, each contributing to the production with honest, energetic performances.

The Brown & Out Theater Festival is a vibrant celebratory journey down a road paved with self-love, acceptance, pride, and a touch of glitter.  It is a festival that has created a voice for and brought awareness to the Latino/a LGBTQ community through words, song, and dance. This production is a lively take on life for a community that has been sadly misunderstood by some members of our society.  It is a feel good, put-your-party-pants-on kind of show that will leave even the straightest person chanting “Brown, Out & Proud!”

The Festival will be presented September 28- October 21,2012 on Fridays and Saturdays at 8:00 p.m, Sundays at 5:00 p.m., at The New Casa 0101 Theater, 2101 East 1st Street (at St. Louis Street), Boyle Heights CA 90033. For tickets, call Casa box office at (323) 263-7684, email tickets@casa0101.org , or buy online at www.casa0101.org. For more information on the production, visit the Brown and Out Festival facebook page.