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Thursday, October 28, 2004

Spud Toppers

Tonight is the first rehearsal for a play I wrote. I'm so excited to hear the actors read the play and am eager to see what sort of new ideas may be generated by this process.

The Cold Comedy Concoction is a night of comedy that opens in December at Stark Raving Theatre in Portland, Oregon. I was really honored to be asked to write a play for this, and I decided to write "Spud Toppers", which is a fast-paced zany romp - -

Just kidding. I hate zany romps.

Spud Toppers was written as an act of revenge on behalf of temporary workers everywhere. Temporary employees, commonly referred to as "Temps" are all too often thrust into office environments and expected to figure out how to perform a job without guidance or support from anyone.

In Corporate America, temps are lowest on the food chain. They are unappreciated and unnamed (many are simply called "the temp" by their co-workers) and assigned the most dreadful and menial of tasks. They are considered little more than trained monkeys. This play is based on my personal experience as a temp and the horrific, yet humorous, memories associated with those trained monkey days.

Two of the characters in the show happen to be gay, but that's not what the play is about. Against my better judgment, I let my sister read the play. I've never talked about my sister here, so I'll need to come up with a good name for her.

I knew she might be uncomfortable with some of the characters and the occasional profane word. But her first question to me was baffling. "Who paid you to write this? A gay comedy club?" No, Cold Kelly, it was written for a theater company in Portland.

"Well, I suppose you could adapt it for other environments," she told me.

She then proceeded to explain how I should rewrite one character, a gay man, as a straight guy. I could then change the other gay guy, Danny, to "Danielle", making that character an attractive woman. Okay, now if she can just explain why that change should occur. "WHY," I shout to the heavens while clenching my fists in rage.

My family baffles me. I wrote a show about life as an office temp. And my sister couldn't get past the fact that two characters were gay. I don't understand why she even suggested that I get rid of the gay characters. I could only tell her, "most people are comfortable seeing gay characters portrayed," but I'm sure she didn't get my point. She lives in a very small world, which is sad. Maybe that's part of the reason I haven't been home to visit in two years. They just don't get me, and, as much as I love my family, I feel like an alien when I'm home. I am liberal gay vegetarian, and you can imagine how uncomfortable it is hanging out at the steakhouse with my conservative Christian family. My dad actually called me a communist the last time I went home.

I turned to Pony for support. He told me, "I can totally hear what your sister is saying. I mean, if a straight person ever saw the play, it wouldn't be funny at all because there are gay characters. It would be like asking an American to sit through a Japanese movie without subtitles or translation. It just wouldn't make any sense to them."

He then asked if straight people hire gay translators so they can watch Will and Grace and still understand the jokes. Obviously, he's being sarcastic. I never worry that Pony won't understand. In fact, the other night we stayed up until 3 a.m. discussing politics. I never discuss politics with anyone, because I know that my views are widely misunderstood. But with him, I felt completely comfortable and even found some of his views rather educational. I actually changed some of my political opinions based on what he shared with me. I'm less of a communist now, I guess.

Family bigotry and ignorance aside, I'm looking forward to jumping into this theatrical production. If you're in Portland anytime between Christmas Eve and January 22, 2005, I hope you'll come see the show!

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