Diversionary Theatre Announces 2023/2024 Season

Tickets for Diversionary's 2023/2024 season productions are currently available via a subscription purchase online.

By: Jun. 01, 2023
Diversionary Theatre Announces 2023/2024 Season

Diversionary Theatre has announced its 2023/2024 season: the San Diego premiere of Dragon Mama (September/October 2023) by Sara Porkalob and directed by Andrew Russell; the legacy revival of The Glass Menagerie (November/December 2023) by Tennessee Williams and directed by Lisa Berger with Shana Wride taking on the iconic role of Amanda Wingfield; the West Coast premiere of Notes on Killing Seven Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Board Members (May/June, 2024) a co-production with Moxie Theatre by Mara Vélez Meléndez and a director to be announced; the world-premiere musical TL;DR: Thelma Louise; Dyke Remix (May/June, 2024) by EllaRose Chary and Brandon Gwinn, directed by Sherri Eden Barber.

Tickets for Diversionary's 2023/2024 season productions are currently available via a subscription purchase online at Click Here and by calling 619.220.0097. Subscription packages start at just $55. Discounted subscriptions are available for seniors, students, educators and military. 

"Next season at Diversionary is all about breaking free from what holds us back to find a brighter, more loving and inclusive future. I'm especially excited to welcome some new artists into the Diversionary family and expand our growing, powerful network of queer artists working across the country today, while bringing back local favorites to continue to build on our pioneering legacy as the third-oldest queer theatre in the county," says Executive Artistic Director, Matt Morrow.

Arts education programming will continue to be prominent throughout the 2023/2024 season, and Diversionary's 38th season kicks off in July with the return of their Teen-Versionary program - a diverse cross section of queer youth - writing and performing a new play as part San Diego's Pride Festival, performing July 14 at 2:00 PM and July 15 at 3:00 PM.  Admission is free. Diversionary's annual program serving LGBTQIA+ senior citizens, the Stonewall Salon, will continue in the 38th season with dates to be announced soon. The group of LGBTQIA+ elders meet for six weeks to devise their own show based on their personal histories, culminating in free performances open to the public. The annual LGBTQIA+themed touring production, D-Tours, will be going to schools in the San Diego Unified School District and community centers and other performance venues across San Diego County (March/April 2024). Kid-Versionary continues its after school programming on-site at Alice Birney Elementary and Roosevelt Middle Schools. And the Silver Squad and Diversionary Werks continue with their periodic drop-classes.

The 2023/2024 season will celebrate the two-year anniversary of Diversionary's Clark Cabaret. The Clark Cabaret welcomes its community five nights a week to enjoy drinks and live entertainment in a piano bar atmosphere complete with performances by beloved local favorites, up-and-coming artists, and local theatre companies. From drag kings and queens to stand-up comedy and hosted movie and game nights, Diversionary will continue to be a home for an eclectic assortment of queer-themed entertainment with an emphasis on non-profit groups and diverse artists, as well as serving as a hub for organizing and meeting. 

Diversionary will continue to open its Mainstage, New Play Development Center, and Arts Education Center to San Diego theatre makers and arts educators and a reduced and sometimes pro-bono rate, depending on the need of the artist or organization in the effort to help provide performance space to sister organizations in need of a place to call home. With limited theatre and arts education venues across our city, this vital community outreach strengthens Diversionary's engagement with like-minded peer organizations and individual artists.

MOXIE Theatre is a professional non-profit theatre founded in 2004 with a mission to create more diverse and honest images of women+ using the intimate art of theatre. Through Moxie's productions of plays written by women+, educational programs, annual MOXIE Awards ceremony, and career-launching professional opportunities, MOXIE is creating a pipeline for women+'s work and inspiring audiences to create change in their own communities.

Diversionary Theatre is the nation's third-oldest LGBTQIA+ theatre dedicated to amplifying queer voices through the performing arts in a dynamic, inclusive, and provocative environment that celebrates and preserves their unique culture, while contributing to an environment of diversity and inclusion throughout the broader community.  Since Diversionary's founding in 1986, it has continually provided an inspiring and thought-provoking theatrical platform to explore complex and diverse stories of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and questioning communities in the form of live entertainment that can be enjoyed by all. The Clark Cabaret is a new space at Diversionary Theatre opened in fall of 2021, and features a full bar and a permanent historical display created in partnership with LAMBDA Archives of San Diego commemorating the space in the tradition of the iconic “Gay Bar” where the LGBTQIA+ community and movement coalesced. 


About the 2023/2024 Season

DRAGON MAMA — San Diego Premiere


By Sara Porkalob
Directed by Andrew Russell
September 14 - October 8, 2023 / Opening Night on September 23, 2023

Maria yearns for a gayer, more diverse life in rural Washington state. When presented with an opportunity to make a quick fortune, she must make an important decision: leave her debt-ridden family and newborn daughter for the wild unknown of Alaska, or stay close to home, family, and intergenerational ghosts. Traversing 25 years, Dragon Mama is a one woman adventure filled with queer love in a barren land, Filipino gangsters, and a dope '90s R&B soundtrack!




By Tennessee Williams
Directed by Lisa Berger
November 30 - December 23, 2023 / Opening Night on December 9, 2023

The mother of queer classics, this nostalgic story of love, regret, and letting go introduced a young Tennessee Williams to the world. Gripped by the guilt of abandoning his mother Amanda and sister Laura, Tom is forced to look back and investigate what led to the fracturing of his family and perhaps his soul. This poetic and compelling memory play comes to stirring life at Diversionary for the first time, posing the question: What is the cost of personal freedom?  




By Mara Vélez Meléndez
Co-Production with Moxie Theatre Performances at Moxie Theatre, add on at a special rate just for Diversionary Subscribers
May 5 - June 2, 2024 / Opening Night on May 10, 2024 

Lolita finds herself in the Wall Street office of the Puerto Rico Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Board. Like a Boricua Lolita before her, she is here in the name of La Revolución! She's got glamour, glitter, and a gun, but is she really ready? Let the office receptionist lead the way! Notes on Killing Seven Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Board Members is a hilarious and harrowing drag show about decolonizing places and people.

TL;DR: THELMA LOUISE; DYKE REMIX — World-Premiere Musical


By EllaRose Chary & Brandon Gwinn
Directed by Sherri Eden Barber
May 9 - June 2, 2024 / Opening Night on May 18, 2024

T and L drive their 1966 Ford Thunderbird Convertible off the edge of the Grand Canyon. Suspended in mid air, the two discover their authentic selves and embark on a queer odyssey that defies conventions and dares to ask: “Why do strong female characters always gotta die?” Aided by a kick-ass Riot Grrrl band, T and L attempt to sort out their new identities, how those identities impact their relationships with each other, and seek out the gay happy ending they've always deserved.

Winner of the 2021 Richard Rodgers Award for Musical Theatre Writing.

Sara Porkalob (Playwright & Performer, Dragon Mama) A creative consultant, artist-activist, and creator of the Dragon Cycle. The second in the cycle, Dragon Mama, premiered at American Repertory Theatre (ART) and won Best Original Script and Best Solo Performance for the 2019 Elliot Norton Awards. ART has commissioned the third in the cycle, Dragon Baby; it will premier on their stage in the near future.  Awards and nominations include: 2021 Princess Grace Award Winner for Theater, 2020 nominee Seattle Mayor's Arts Award, Seattle Times 11 Movers and Shakers to Watch this Decade, 2019 nominee for Americans for the Arts Johnson Fellowship for Artists Transforming Communities, Seattle Magazine's 2018's Most Influential People, and 2017 City Art's Futures List. She is a co-founder of DeConstruct, an online journal of intersectional performance critique. She recently made her Broadway debut playing Edward Rutledge in the official revival of the musical 1776.  She's a consultant with the City of Seattle and their Creative Strategies Initiative (CSI), a new City effort that uses arts- and culture-based approaches to build racial equity in non-arts policy areas like the environment, housing, workforce and community development.

Andrew Russell (Director, Dragon Mama) Andrew is the former Artistic Director of the Tony Award-winning Intiman Theatre, has worked as a creative consultant with Universal, and is the former longtime assistant of Tony Kushner. He works on and Off-Broadway and regularly serves as a storytelling consultant and director on a wide variety of projects for Microsoft and other major brands. His work has been featured at The Oregon Shakespeare Festival, American Repertory Theatre, La Jolla Playhouse, The Old Globe, The Public Theatre, The 5th Avenue Theatre, On The Boards, Kansas City Repertory Theatre, Seattle Repertory Theatre, and more. He holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon.  In addition to developing The Dragon Cycle with Sara Porkalob - a three-part genre-fest based on the life of a young Filipina girl who learns she's a descendent of gangsters and might change the whole damn world with her family's stories - he's currently developing projects for stage and TV that include: the coming-to-age journey of New Orleans bounce artist Big Freedia, the fabulous and tragic diva-turned-detective tale of Dorothy Kilgallen, and the powerful story of America's first trans mayor in Silverton, Oregon.

Tennessee Williams (Playwright, The Glass Menagerie)  His craftsmanship and vision marked Tennessee Williams as one of the most talented playwrights in contemporary theater. His dramas, including The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, Summer and Smoke, and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof are among the most acclaimed dramas ever performed on Broadway. (Biography courtesy of the Kennedy Center) 

Lisa Berger (Director, The Glass Menagerie) A freelance director, Meisner Teacher and Professor of Theatre. Her San Diego directing credits include How High the Moon (La Jolla Playhouse WOW Festival) Birds of North America and Red Bike (Moxie Theatre) Red Truck, Blue Truck, When It Comes and Skelton Crew (readings;The Old Globe), The Car Plays: Incident Row (Wow Festival); The Car Plays: We Wait (La Jolla Playhouse, Moving Arts) The Moors, The Long Christmas Ride Home (Patte Award) and Looking for Normal (Diversionary Theatre), Parlour Song (Backyard Renaissance) A Behanding in Spokane (Cygnet Theatre) Ajax (co-direct, The Old Globe MFA program), Metamorphoses (San Diego City College), credible, The Secret in the Wings, Anatomy of Gray, Eurydice, Calling, Almost Maine and A Streetcar Named Desire (USD), The Collector (Animal Cracker Conspiracy) Buried Child, Simpatico, Things We Want (New Village Arts), Killer Joe (Compass Theatre) (Patte Award). She received her MFA from the University of Montana and is also a graduate of The William Esper Studio in New York City. She currently teaches at Mira Costa College and University of San Diego. She is co-artistic director and teacher of the Meisner Technique at The Actor's Place at MCIT Studio. 

Shana Wride (Playing Amanda Wingfield, The Glass Menagerie) A San Diego-based actor and director who has worked with The Old Globe, The Shakespeare Center of Los Angeles, Diversionary Theatre, Cygnet Theatre, The San Diego Symphony, North Coast Repertory Theatre, Intrepid Theatre, Moxie Theatre, Compass Theatre, The Colony Theatre, Open Fist Theatre, San Diego Repertory Theatre, Idaho Shakespeare Festival, Gaslamp Quarter Theatre, and Sledgehammer Theatre. She has worked as an administrator for The Old Globe/University of San Diego Shiley Graduate Acting program, regarded as one of the top graduate programs in the nation. As an educator, she is currently on faculty as an acting instructor and director at Grossmont College. She is a two-time recipient of the San Diego Critics Circle Craig Noel Award, first for her solo performance in 2.5 Minute Ride at Diversionary Theatre, and later for her performance as Amanda in Cygnet Theatre's Private Lives. She holds a master's degree in Theatre Arts from San Diego State University.  While living in Los Angeles, she co-hosted the nationally syndicated radio show, “Women Aloud” with actor/comedienne Mo Gaffney.

EllaRose Chary (Co-writer, TL;DR: Thelma Louise; Dyke Remix) is an award-winning writer and advocate for inclusion in musical theater. She is a Richard Rodgers Award winner, Dramatists Guild Fellow, Drama League Award Nominee, NYFA Fellowship Playwriting/Screenwriting Finalist, Kleban Prize Finalist, Kernodle New Play Award Finalist, Doric Wilson Award Semi-Finalist, and winner of a BOH Cameronian Arts Award and the Weston Award for Musical Theater.  Her musical TL;DR: Thelma Louise; Dyke Remix is a winner of the 2021 Richard Rodgers Award and has been developed at The Eugene O'Neill Theater Center (NMTC Incubator Residency, NMTC Finalist), Rhinebeck Writers Retreat (Triple R Residency), the UArts Polyphone Festival and was presented at the NAMT 33rd Festival of New Musicals. Her play The Wrong Question was selected for the 2021 Jewish Playwriting Contest. She is the bookwriter for the award-winning The Doll Maker's Gift, which opened at The Rose Theater in 2019 (“Families should flock to this one.” – Omaha World-Herald) and her play The Séance Machine premiered off-off Broadway at Obie Award Winning The Tank in 2019. Her other projects include: Cotton Candy And Cocaine, How To Survive The End Of The World (featured on Broadway.com, BroadwayWorld, Hollywood Soapbox, and 89.5 FM Star), The Lake and The Mill, Queer. People. Time., Patriettes (The #FWord Finalist) and the Malaysian musical Marrying Me.

Brandon James Gwinn (Co-writer, TL;DR: Thelma Louise; Dyke Remix) is a singer-pianist, composer-lyricist and producer lauded "one hell of an entertainer" by the Bistro Awards. His debut Ep “Not Too Late” is now available on iTunes. He toured 65 cities in the US and Canada promoting the EP on a LiveNation tour. He produced and performed on “Two Birds & One Stone,” the first and second albums released by Trixie Mattel (Winner of RuPaul's Drag Race Allstars 3), which debuted at #1 on the iTunes Top Albums chart and the Billboard Heatseekers Albums Charts. Brandon also directs and produces music for Alexis Michelle (Drag Race Season 9) and produced her debut album “Love Fool” for Broadway Records. He composed theme music for George Takei's web series “It Takeis Two” and co-wrote the title track on the album “Leido” for Colombian-American pop artist Winstar.  Brandon created the horrifying score and soundscape to The Seance Machine Off-Broadway (The Tank).  He is the composer and co-lyricist of TL;DR: Thelma Louise; Dyke Remix (Rhinebeck Writer's Residency & Triple R Residency, UArts Polyphone Festival 2020, O'Neill NMTC Incubator Residency), Cotton Candy & Cocaine (Theatre C), Queer.People.Time. (Catwalk Residency, Dramatists Guild Fellowship), and Underwear: A Space Musical (2008 New York International Fringe Festival, 2012 American College Theatre Festival). His music and lyrics for Matchmaker Matchmaker, I'(M) Willing To Settle premiered at The American Repertory Theatre, Oberon in Boston and the 2011 New York Musical Theatre Festival. He co-wrote songs for The Civilian's Lobby Project musicals before (and based on interviews about) the City Center Off-Center productions of Songs For A New World and Working. Brandon is also the composer and co-lyricist of the New York Theatre Barn Commission Small Town Story (National Alliance of Musical Theatre Writer's Residency Grant, finalist Richard Rodgers award, Village Theatre New Musicals Festival in Seattle, World Premiere at American Theatre Group in Spring 2018.) He has been an artist in residence at Ars Nova and was a 2015-2016 Dramatists Guild Fellow.  A critically lauded singer-songwriter, piano bar entertainer and music director, he has arranged and played shows for multi-Emmy nominee Tituss Burgess, 12-time MAC Award Winner Karen Mason, Tony Winner Daisy Eagan and more. Proud NARAS Grammy Voter and ASCAP Member. MFA from NYU's Graduate Musical Theatre Writing Program.

Sherri Eden Barber (Director, TL;DR: Thelma Louise; Dyke Remix) A director, Artistic Director of Ricochet Collective, and Resident Director of Hamilton on the West Coast. She has developed new work with Rattlestick, Orchard Project, The Flea, Culture Project, Chautauqua, and The Old Vic. Formerly, Sherri was the Program Director for the Drama League, the Head of MFA Admissions at The New School for Performing Arts and Core Company Director at The Orchard Project. Recent credits include Tiny Beautiful Things with Nia Vardalos (Pasadena Playhouse), To Let Go and Fall (Theater Latté Da), Esperanza Spalding's Emily's D+Evolution (Development on European Tour), Happily After Ever (Ricochet Collective – 59E59, Edinburgh Fringe), good friday (The Flea Theater), Only You Can Prevent Wildfires (Ricochet Collective – Teatro Circulo), Gordy Crashes (Ricochet Collective – IRT), Mr. Landing Takes A Fall (The Flea), Herman Kline's Midlife Crisis (The Beckett), 24 Hour Plays on Broadway with Pablo Schreiber, Laverne Cox, and Melanie Griffith (American Airlines Theatre). 

Mara Vélez Meléndez (Playwright, Notes on Killing Seven Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Board Members) A playwright born and raised in Puerto Rico. Her Off-Broadway debut took place in 2022 with Notes on Killing Seven Oversight, Management and Economic Stability Board Members, produced by Soho Rep and she will adapt the upcoming Spotify/Gimlet podcast, Case 63. Mara was a 2020-2021 Playwrights Realm Writing Fellow and is currently a member of Ars Nova's PlayGroup. Her work has also been developed at The Lark, Teatro SEA, Pregones/PRTT, The Latinx Playwrights Circle and Fresh Ground Pepper. Other plays include We Built Our Homes Near Kingdoms of Animals and Magic (The Lark's Playwright's Week, 2019 Rita & Burton Goldberg Playwriting Prize), ¡GARGOLA! (MCC LiveLabs) and Lajasarriba. Playwriting MFA: Hunter College.



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