Stomping Ground Comedy Celebrates Pride Month With QUEERANTINE
Stomping Ground Comedy Theatre & Training Center, in the Dallas Design District, has had its doors closed since mid-March due to COVID-19; however, that won't stop them from celebrating PRIDE month as only they know how- with comedy. The small non-profit comedy theater and training center has taken last year's Think Outside the Closet: LGBTQIA Storytelling and moved it from the stage to the stream and added the brand new all-queer sketch comedy revue, Queerantine.
Both shows will stream live on social media Friday, June 26 and Saturday June 27 for free. However, there will be live donations links during the show; the show's creators are dedicated to using their platform to enact social change and are pledging donations from the show to support two Dallas nonprofit organizations donations; portions of the proceeds will go to House of Rebirth, a housing initiative and community safe space created for and led by Black trans women and Promise House, supporting their LGBTQ+ homeless youth program.
Queerantine looks at today's world through the LGBT+ perspective. Featuring writers and performers from Dallas and beyond, the show is a chance to spend the evening relaxing, laughing, and healing through humor. Last year's popular LGBTQIA storytelling show Think Outside the Closet features storytellers' "coming out" stories and is being remounted this year with new performers and stories.
Pre-production for both shows began in April in the middle of strict state-wide quarantine measures with the future of the theatre and its opening uncertain. Production continued through the global Coronavirus pandemic and soon after, the Black Lives Matter movement and widespread protests.
Co-creator Diane Michelle admits to some trepidation about going forward with the show, saying "It's hard to feel funny when so many traumatic things are happening around you."
Co-creator Jamie Zeske shared Michelle's feelings about moving forward with the show, saying "We got to work in what feels like a long ago era, before businesses started reopening...when we all had a lot of time on our hands. Then suddenly our sketch show was being produced at a time when people were showing up in droves doing the vital and difficult work of standing up for racial equality, in a time when Black people are having to relieve lifetimes of abuse and discrimination. It felt pretty stupid pulling out all my silly wigs and Batwoman outfits as people are getting tear gassed and arrested standing up for what's right."
Michelle and Zeske spoke with the writers and performers and said it was a unanimous decision to move forward with the show's production and to donate their production pay towards Promise House and House of Rebirth.
"We had a lot of check-ins and talks and decided to move forward, especially since proceeds from the show are going to two excellent nonprofits that help marginalized people," said Zeske. "I feel that while we have to do everything we can to be allies and accomplices for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color right now; we also have to stand tall as queer people during pride month."
The show has been a fun, heart-warming, and moving experience for everyone involved. It connected the cast and crew during a time when the world is disconnected.
"Our show gives our all LGBT+ crew a place to talk about the frustrations, complexities and joys of being out and proud, and we hope it does that for the audience as well. 2020 is teaching me that the battle must be intersectional, and everyday, and exhausting", Zeske said. "To me it feels right on point to spend Pride month trying to aid the revolution with the greatest weapons in my arsenal: compassion, listening skills and lots of silly wigs."
Queerantine streams live on Stomping Ground's Facebook page and Twitch stream at 8 pm on Friday, June 26. The show is directed by Michelle and Zeske and is written by Charlotte Parker, Jada Pinkett Fox, Michelle, Haley Riemer, Jacie Hood, Zeske, Liz King, and Saria AlMidany. The show features performances by Caroline Cole, Parker, Michelle, Riemer, Hood, Zeske, Jeny Siddall, John Dixon, King, Nathaniel Weathersby, and AlMidany.
Think Outside the Closet will stream at 7 pm on Saturday, June 27 and includes stories from John Dixon, Adam Steele Johnson, Charlotte Parker, Kerry Day, KJ James, Shera Howard, and Portia Cantrell.
Both shows are rated M for Mature.
Stomping Ground Comedy Theater & Training Center is a Dallas nonprofit theatre dedicated to comedy. Started in early 2017, Stomping Ground is dedicated to connecting the community through comedy and is committed to Outreach, Inclusion, and Collaboration. Lead by a team with over 100 years combined experience performing and teaching comedy, they hope to collaborate with the existing Dallas comedy community and community of artists to expand the comedic arts. Find out more at www.stompinggroundcomedy.org