Pride Films and Plays takes on Sochi

Sun. February 23, 2014 12:00 AM
by Danny Bernardo

Tonight, Pride Films and Plays will be presenting a one night only staged reading of Sochi: Three Plays About Gay Athletes And The Olympics. I caught up with artistic director David Zak about the project:

Danny Bernardo (DB): Tell us about the Sochi project?

David Zak (DZ): This is the first in what we are calling PFP Underground...shorter projects, more experimental projects, works in development that fall outside of our contest guidelines. And we hope to find out from our audience what other topics they think should be on the table for future presentations.

DB: What inspired the project?

DZ: I started thinking about Sochi in the fall as the Russian news was unspooling. PFP has invited the writers who have been here for to workshop their plays and screenplays with us over the last couple of years into a Writers Network. We help read and give feedback on other projects they might have, and they can bounce ideas off each other.

We put out a request for scripts to that group, and also into the world at large and got about five pieces right away that had to do with gay athletes, and one of those - Hoya Saxa by Ron Espy - made it onto the bill. The other pieces were written specifically for this event, and I am so pleased that George Smart and DC Cathro were able to use the Olympics in such a creative way to create short, human dramas.

So we have 8 actors in three short scripts. We will talk with DC who is coming in for the event, and also have time to talk with the audience about the Olympics and the changing nature of gays in professional and amateur sports.

DB: How do you see theatre as a way to comment on current events?

DZ: I am really excited to see how quickly theater artists can respond to current events. Much faster than TV, or documentaries, and surely faster than film. Bailiwick Repertory did two dramas based on actual events - Sin: A Cardinal Deposed and Katrina: State of Emergency that were live on stage while the actual events were still happening in the press. It was cool.

Sochi: Three Plays About Gay Athletes And The Olympics will be presented as a staged reading in the Center on Halsted's Hoover-Leppen Theater at 3656 N Halsted. The performance is Monday, February 24 at 7pm, with a talk-back afterwards. Tickets are $10, or $5 for students or seniors. The evening will begin with a reception at 6:30 pm to share our favorite memories and impressions of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, and talk about the state of gay sports in the world and in Chicago. Tickets can be purchased here or by calling 1 800 838 3006.

Commemorative Edition , directed by AJ Wright, is a funny and touching coming-of-age tale. A Jewish boy's crush throws his life into turmoil as he tries desperately to become a man during the time of the 1988 Olympics.

In Hoya Saxa , directed by Tommy Bullingham, we meet two athletes in a locker room. Poss has been injured and as he recovers, David's questions reveal more than either athlete expects.

In Olympic Fever , directed by David Zak, set in the departure lounge of an airport, we meet Roberto, a skater who has spent his life with the hopes of making it on the team. But the Russian stance on GLBT people has sent him reeling and he decides not to attend. Martin, his manager tries one last time to change his mind.