Klea Blackhurst, Maggie Keenan-Bolger, and More Join 'Ring of Keys' Queer Network
In honor of the first day of PRIDE month, co-founders Andrea Prestinario and Royer Bockus announce the official launch of RING OF KEYS, a national network of queer women+, trans, and gender non-conforming artists working on and offstage in musical theatre.
The only network of its kind, RING OF KEYS seeks to create a community for its members, as well as serve as a hiring resource to employ professional artists who self-identify as queer, lesbian, bisexual, femme, trans, non-binary, and the diversity of genders that queerness contains. Through consciousness-raising and visibility, RING OF KEYS strives to push the boundaries of musical theatre today, kick (ball-change) the door open, and reveal a vibrant musical theatre landscape for the future.
"Our friendship was born out of the realization that while we inhabit a professional space that is LGBTQ+ friendly, we as queer women are underrepresented within that space," says co-founder Royer Bockus. "In musical theatre, the queer representation beyond cis gay men is extremely limited," adds co-founder Andrea Prestinario. "Queer women+, trans, and gender non-conforming folx are often absent from the narrative, but RING OF KEYS seeks to change that by elevating its members and their work. Our hope is to inspire musical theatre writers to tell our stories, to encourage theatre leaders to champion queer women+, trans, and gender non-conforming artists, and to mobilize the industry to celebrate our diversity as an asset."
"I think the tide has changed such that theatre leadership wants to cast queer performers in queer roles," Bockus says. "But until now there haven't been tools to network with queer professionals. Queerness isn't visible to the eye, nor is it usually on a resume."
The RING OF KEYS network currently comprises 100 members from seventeen cities across the country, including actress Klea Blackhurst, Guthrie Theater Associate Producer Lauren Keating, lyricist Kit Yan (Interstate), Honest Accomplice Theatre Artistic Director Maggie Keenan-Bolger, and more. Professional artists interested in becoming a member can do so by applying via the RING OF KEYS webpage, found here:
Royer Bockus is the co-founder of RING OF KEYS, and a current company member at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival. She's a New York based actor who has worked with Trinity Rep, Lookingglass Theatre Company, The Wallis Annenberg Center, The Jungle Theatre, and New York Winterfest. Graduate of Northwestern University. www.royerbockus.com
Andrea Prestinario is the co-founder of RING OF KEYS. A JEFF award-winning actress and singer, Andrea is NYC-based and Chicago-grown. She has worked with Asolo Repertory, Paramount Theatre Aurora, Drury Lane Chicago, The Lyric Opera, The American Conservatory Theatre -San Francisco, Marriott Theatre, Weston Playhouse, Timeline Theatre Chicago, and more. She received her BFA from Ball State University in Musical Theatre and Gender Studies and is a graduate of The School at Steppenwolf.
RING OF KEYS is a national network of queer women+, trans, and gender non-conforming artists working on and offstage in musical theatre. RING OF KEYS aims to be a visible, supportive community for its members, as well as a hiring resource for those looking to work with professional artists who self-identify as lesbian, bisexual, queer, femme, trans, non-binary, and the diversity of genders that queerness contains. RING OF KEYS strives to kick (ball-change) the closet door open to create a vibrant, diverse musical theatre landscape for the future.
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