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New production will raise funds to protect LGBTQIA individuals, women and girls.


4thU Artivists, a New York City-based benefit performance group, will present their Fall production, Dear ONE: Love & Longing in Mid-Century Queer America by playwright Joshua Irving Gershick, November 5th & 6th as a live staged production streamed to a virtual audience only.

Directed by 4thU Artivists' council member and theater director Nancy Robillard, the piece illuminates the lives of ordinary Queer Americans as recounted through letters written between 1953 and 1965, to L.A.'s ONE Magazine, the first openly gay & lesbian periodical in the United States. In 2020, San Diego's Diversionary Theatre produced the play as an audiocast, featuring gay rights icon George Takei. Proceeds from this performance will go to The Audre Lorde Project.

Gershick is a writer/director whose works include the GLAAD-award-winning play Bluebonnet Court and the short film Door Prize, winner of the Alfred C. Kinsey Award, honoring film that furthers understanding of gender or sexuality; and is the author of two acclaimed oral histories Gay Old Girls and Secret Service: Untold Stories of Lesbians in the Military. He is a Lambda Literary Award Finalist, an American Library Association Book of the Year Nominee, and two-time winner of the ForeWord Book of the Year Award for LGBT Nonfiction. A former newspaper reporter and editor, Gershick creates pieces that illuminate the lives of LGBTQI Americans whose lives have been hidden from history.

Each month, ONE Magazine reached several thousand readers, a great many of them isolated and in search of community. Looking for love, friendship or understanding, they wrote of loneliness and longing, of joy and fulfillment, and of their daily lives, hidden from history. Popular accounts place the start of the LGBTQ movement in 1969, with the Stonewall Riots in New York City. But Dear ONE suggests something else again - that the queer liberation movement - an awareness of community coupled with a galvanizing call to action - began long before, as many of its letters underscore.

The missives presented in Dear ONE: Love & Longing in Mid-Century Queer America
are based on actual letters preserved at the ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives at the USC Libraries. In the San Diego Tribune Gershick reflected on the delicate recrafting that made the material performative. "In each, I have sought to tell a single, essential story, divining and capturing a central theme found in the mother text while seamlessly preserving each correspondent's unique voice, language, syntax and detail as found in the originals. This dramatic refining and reimagining is delicate work. I view it as sacred." He told Broadway World, "Then and now, all beings seek connection. And we do that with the media available to us."

Nancy Robillard has directed on Broadway, Off-Broadway and in regional theater, with a special focus on developing new work. As a dramaturg, teacher and acting coach - at NYU's Tisch School of Arts and others - she aims to help writers and actors to realize their vision. In New York, Robillard has worked with The Culture Project, Vital Theatre, Directors Company, Red Fern Theatre Company, Algonquin Theatre and Theatre for the New City. She has worked regionally at the Kennedy Center, Walnut Street Theatre, MetroStage, Northern Stage, Luna Stage, Gateway Playhouse and the Theater Masters national new play festival in Aspen. She is currently on the faculty of the Dramatists Guild Foundation.

"Every so often I read a script and fall in love on the first page. That was the case when I read Dear ONE: Love and Longing in Mid-Century Queer America," said Robillard. "The writers of the letters to ONE Magazine leapt into my heart. What struck me about these writers is that they are isolated. They know no one like themselves and have no one to talk to. ONE Magazine was their lifeline. The production of the play will reflect the isolation of the characters, and their longing for connection. I am over the moon that the playwright Joshua Irving Gershick is actively involved in our production. It is always a privilege to have the playwright in the rehearsal room. We are all grateful to Joshua for the gift of his play."

"The letters featured in Dear ONE - in turn funny, pointed, galvanizing and tragic - create for us a kind of ancestral awareness," said Gershick. "Though these brave writers are not our literal ancestors, they are certainly our forebears in the struggle for equality. Their voices let us know that we are not alone in our experience and perspective. They underscore that we all are in this together, and they buoy and inspire us to keep moving forward."
Net proceeds from this event will support the work of our beneficiary, The Audre Lorde Project. The ALP is a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Two Spirit, Trans and Gender Non Conforming People of Color center for community organizing, focusing on the New York City area. The Audre Lorde Project works for community wellness and progressive social and economic justice. Committed to struggling across differences, they seek to represent and serve various communities around them.

Tickets are on sale now on Eventbrite at:

Email: or Call: (929) 266-8420
The shows will be performed in the sanctuary of the Fourth Universalist Society, a landmarked Gothic church at 160 Central Park West, and streamed live to a virtual audience only, at 8pm ET.

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