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BWW Review: LAVENDER MEN, An Emancipation Play Takes A Fantasy Trip Inside the Life of Honest Abe

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BWW Review: LAVENDER MEN, An Emancipation Play Takes A Fantasy Trip Inside the Life of Honest Abe

LAVENDER MEN, An Emancipation Play was developed in Skylight Theatre Company's Skylab and received a SOLD OUT reading at circle in the Square Theatre on Broadway this past summer as part of the Circle Reading Series. Originally scheduled to open at the Skylight Theatre on April 25, a scene from the play written by Roger Q. Mason was performed live on July 2 by Skylight Live, because as Mason shared, "Rona ran through and chased us into the Zoom Zoom Room" when rehearsals had to be suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down live theatre productions.

The 15-minute scene presented was introduced as an historical fantasia of Taffeta, a self-proclaimed "fabulous queer creation of color," performed to comedic perfection by the playwright himself, as she invades the private world of Abraham Lincoln to confront issues of LGBTQ+ inclusion and visibility that still challenge us today.

Presented as a compilation of the first time we are introduced BWW Review: LAVENDER MEN, An Emancipation Play Takes A Fantasy Trip Inside the Life of Honest Abeto Abraham Lincoln and his new assistant Elmer (Greg Nussen and Nich Witham) as they discuss contract law as well as Abe's wife and family, the scene morphs into a later moment in Act I when Honest Abe and Elmer realize there might be an attraction between them. As they begin to strip down to challenge each other's "physical prowess," things jam to a halt upon the entrance of Sadie, Lincoln's black housekeeper, who has a lot to say about the two men and what might happen if Mrs. Lincoln had discovered them getting ready to roll around the floor half naked together. "It's amazing what men will tell you when they think no one else is listening," Sadie shares as both men discretely make their exits from the room.

Directed by Lovell Holder to seamlessly move between scenes of two or three characters, BWW Review: LAVENDER MEN, An Emancipation Play Takes A Fantasy Trip Inside the Life of Honest Abethe play, based upon "my alternative facts, because after all who said it didn't happen?" according to playwright Mason, LAVENDER MEN takes its title from an essay by Carl Sandburg in which he describes unusual friendships between men as "lavender" in nature. During the Q&A afterwards, information was shared that back in Lincoln's day, men regularly slept together and wrote letters of a loving nature to each other when separated by politics and/or war. Thus, Mason wrote the play to address the larger issue of gender identity in this country which, while accepted by many, still challenge others.

BWW Review: LAVENDER MEN, An Emancipation Play Takes A Fantasy Trip Inside the Life of Honest AbeThis short excerpt certainly has inspired me to look forward to the play's full production in the Skylight Theatre's 2021-22 Season when we can (hopefully) again gather to watch live theatre together. If you missed it on July 2, LAVENDER MEN, An Emancipation Play and past Skylight Live presentations continue to be broadcast free (with donations accepted) at https://skylighttheatre.org/event/skylight-live/

Join Skylight Theatre Live each week online BWW Review: LAVENDER MEN, An Emancipation Play Takes A Fantasy Trip Inside the Life of Honest Abefor live performances of new short plays by local artists created especially for streaming online. Each play lasts about ten minutes and is followed by a Q&A with the artists. Future presentations include:

July 9, 3:00pm: The Weekend I Thought I Had Covid

July 16, 3:00pm: Square One... the story of "Benton Way" continues

Screenshot photos by Shari Barrett


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