Brown & Out V, a show “in observance of the 50th Anniversary of both the Stonewall Riots and the passing of the Gay Icon, Judy Garland, and in celebration of National LGBTQ Pride Month, consists of eleven short plays and one short film. That is a lot to absorb and appreciate in one evening. I wasn’t able to catch up with this show until the earthquake enhanced performance of July 5th, due to a complicated June.
I love short plays. I started reviewing them for Out & About Magazine, a nifty, cheerful little zine created by my life partner up in the Bay Area, the mission of which was to cue people into all the available opportunities for fun and entertainment. The best such festival was at Santa Cruz Actors Theatre and entitled 8 Tens @ 8. No little play was more than ten minutes in length. It’s a mixed bag format with serious plays, comic plays, and affecting plays. An evening of them will always have some that one likes better than others. If you really like one that touches you, you are sorry to see it end. If you don’t particularly care for another, well, it’s over in ten minutes.
Brown & Out V is an ambitious evening with eleven short plays and one short film, that presents some aspects of the LGBTQ experience over the decades since Stonewall.
The political struggle to achieve rights and recognition is featured in “Are You Gay or Latino?” The conundrum of a newly minted citizen in conflict with her undocumented lover is front and center in “Mija.”
The anguish of some aspects of Gay love appears in several of the plays. In “To Rocco, with Love,” a shy, diminutive guy loves a big expansive guy who doesn’t want the relationship. You really want the sweet, yearning guy to take a cue from a lyric in South Pacific that goes,
“If a man don’t understand you,
If you fly on separate beams,
Waste no time, make a change,
Ride that man right off your range.
Rub him out of the roll call
And drum him out of your dreams.”
A certain desperation of unrequited love is on display in the affecting play, “Zaddy,” when a young man nurses a drink in a restaurant while waiting for a potential lover who isn’t showing up. He is counseled by an older man who has been there.
Some magical realism is displayed in “ Black Sheep, Rainbow Sheep,” a Dia de los Muertos séance in which a son in a solid relationship communes with his dead mother over the issue of his biological father.
One of my favorite plays of the evening was a solo performance,“Colibri,” that featured a religious guy who suffers from guilt and torment after contracting HIV. He is torn by two spirits who are like the old cartoons of a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other.
Free wheeling sex and infidelity is on display in the raunchy “Butch.” Set in Redz Gay Bar, a landmark in the Boyle Heights, the enthusiastic short play is a whirlwind of gender bending.
An Aztec shaman and his lover are the victims of Spanish atrocities in “Omens,” which takes place in the time of the conquest of Mexico.
Another of my favorites is “Better than Grind’r.” A shy bear on a Pokemon quest links up with a sweet guy who really likes him.
I found “Romana y El Cuerpo de Cristo: Anect-dotadas Apostolicas (Romana and The Body of Christ: Anecdotes of the Apostles)” interesting to watch, but more than a little bit confusing. It takes place in a charismatic street-life church where a woman is on a spiritual quest.
In the most graphic display of wanton sexuality of the evening, “#CUMDUMP” has an enthusiastic bear taking on multiple partners in a variety of positions mercifully displayed on a backlit screen. He has at it again when one of his guests from the night before returns to find a lost wallet.
The short film, Tacos y Tacones (Tacos and Heels), written and directed by Matthew Ramos, features three Transgender Latinx sex workers—Lady Diana (Diana Feliz Oliva), Bamby Salcedo, Maria Roman, with Laura Figueroa.
The actor of Brown & Out V are Arash Aiinehsazian, Karina Contreras, Carlos Reyes Hailey, Shen Heckel, Giovanni Navarro, Gabriella Rafiele, Jesus Tedeo Rodriguez, Teddy Rodríguez, Bri Symone, Devan Torres, and Stevie Vallejo.
The directors of Brown & Out V are Andrew Cervantes, Claudia Duran, Angela Moore, Benjamin (Benny) Perez, Diana Romo, Rigo Tejeda and Matthew Ramos. Assistant Directors include are Cinnamon Rivera and Graciela Campos.
The producers/playwrights are Abel Alvarado, Patricia Zamorano and Matthew Ramos. Other producers and playwrights of include Felipe Agredano, Felipe Valladolid Chavez, Martin Olivera Carrillo, Giovanni Navarro, Daniel Muñoz, Ruben Mendive, Conrado TerrazasCross and Devon Torres.
After leaving the theatre, I was dismayed that there are not more examples of stable, long-term relationships, the kind that many of my gay and lesbian friends have. Fun’s fun, but some of the scenes play into the stereotypical behavior of shallow promiscuity and gratuitous sexuality that does not reflect well on the LBGTQ movement.