Just me talking about costume-y kind of stuff
I got an email from Molly saying that they filed the injunction today. Now we play the waiting game, to see what the judge is going to do about it. In the meantime, while you are waiting, here's a link to the Texas Tribune article about the case against it and how both the Texas Civil Rights Project and the ACLU filed cases.
UpDated 7-14-23 Happy BAstille Day, Folx!
I opened my inbox to find responses to my mass email project:
Four theatres sent back what was basically an automated reply saying, we got your email and will respond to you shortly. Michael Meigs, who runs the CTX Live Theatre website responded with, thanks for sending me this, I'll post it on my blog and send it to the guy who runs ATX Live Theatre as well. He wanted to know if I'd sent it to other theatres. The President of Sun City Actors and Theatre Guild, Georgetown, Morgan Fogelman, reached out to say he was going to pass along my concerns to his Board of Directors. But the best response so far was from Molly Petchenik, a lawyer with the Texas Civil Rights Project, who had gotten my email from Vortex Theatre. Her office is preparing to file a lawsuit to challenge SB 12 as unconstitutionally overbroad and vague, and she wants to interview me, so I spent about two hours on the phone with her this afternoon. Additionally she wanted names of Texas HS theatre teachers to contact for her deposition as well. I gave her 30 names of people to talk to. When I started looking at the list, I was super surprised to realize that exactly half of them were former students.
And then I started making memes:
Yesterday I emailed an abbreviated version of this post to every major professional theatre in Texas as well as the Texas ACLU. So far I have gotten nothing in reply from anyone. Here's who I emailed:
Zilker, Shakespeare in the Park
Salvage Vanguard Theatre
Trinity Street Players
Sun City Actors and Theatre Guild, Georgetown
Sam Bass, Round Rock
Bastrop Opera House
Dallas Theatre Center
Jubilee Theatre, Fort Worth
Our Productions, Addison
Granbury Opera House
Texas Shakespeare Festival, Kilgore
Theatre Under the Stars
Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
The Public Theatre
Waco Civic Theatre
Viva Les Artes, Killeen
Texas!, Palo Duro Canyon
Lubbock Community Theatre
Backdoor Theatre, Wichita Falls
Viva El Paso!
El Paso Playhouse
The Paramount, Abilene
Abilene Community Theatre
Central Texas Live Theatre (a reviewer)
I will continue my emailing efforts with smaller venues, and then extend it to Universities and College Theatre departments. I plan to get the word out to everyone who does theatre in this state BEFORE Sept. 1, when the new law goes into effect. I will continue to update my list every time I contact a new theatre and also what (if any) reply I get back. I've also got some memes I'm working on for a social media campaign, so stay tuned for those.
The Texas Tribune and other news sources have been following the progress of SB 12 through the legislature. You can read the final version of the bill here. It has now been signed into law and goes into effect Sept. 1st. SB 12 is anti-LGBTQ legislation that criminalizes drag shows and performers. It makes "sexually oriented performances" illegal on public property OR in the presence of a minor" You read that right, it's not in public AND in the presence of a minor, it's in public OR in the presence of a minor, basically criminalizing the state of being a trans person. Let that sink in. Here's a recent article in the Houston Chronicle about how SB 12 is affecting the LGBTQ community. I have been the faculty sponsor of the Gender and Sexualities Alliance on our campus for the last two years. The GSA has hosted a drag show on campus as its main fund-raising venture every spring. We participate in Waco Pride Network's Out on the Brazos event every fall. We support all our trans and non-binary students both on and off campus. At this point I am afraid for what the future holds for the state of our organization and the safety of our LGBTQ students this next school year.
If that wasn't bad enough, no one in the Texas theatre community seems to be talking about the possible ramifications on our profession, so I took the afternoon to write down all of the ways that this piece of transphobic legislation may impact our entire entertainment industry, focusing specifically on live theatre.
We need to be concerned with the vague language of the bill as well as the punishment aspect of it being a criminal offense and carrying a hefty civil penalty--$10,000 for the offending business and $4000 for the performer. They've taken out the language that specifically mentions drag but replaced it with this incredibly vague phrase: "sexually oriented performances" which are illegal on public property OR in the presence of a minor" and goes on to state that 'Sexually oriented performance' means a visual performance that: " (ii) a male performer exhibiting as a female, or a female performer exhibiting as a male, who uses clothing, makeup, or other similar physical markers and who sings, lip syncs, dances, or otherwise performs before an audience". This bill makes whole categories of plays and musicals illegal to perform.
Here are some examples:
1. Shows that are about drag performances: KInky Boots, Priscilla Queen of the Desert, La Cage Aux Folles, Rocky Horror Show, Victor/Victoria.
2. Shows that use cross-dressing as a plot device: Tootsie, Mrs. Doubtfire, Twelfth Night, Merry Wives of Windsor, As You Like It, Merchant of Venice, Two Gentlemen of Verona, Cymbeline, Servant of Two Masters, Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum, Charley's Aunt, Torch Song Trilogy, Stage Beauty, M. Butterfly, Les Miserables, Babes in Toyland, Scarlett Pimpernel, Sunset Boulevard, The Producers, Hairspray, Spamalot, Rent, Clue the Musical, Peter Pan, Cinderella, Anything Goes, Die Fledermaus, La Strada, Three Musketeers, Chicago, Shipwrecked, Complete Works of William Shakespeare (abridged) to name a few.
3. Shows that feature anything "that appeals to the prurient interest in sex". This wording leaves the judgement call up to the interpretation of the audience. What one audience member may view as tame, another person may view as lewd. So we can't have the Hot Box dancers in Guys and Dolls, the KIt Kat Club in Cabaret, Miss Mona's girls in Best Little Whorehouse, Reno Sweeney and her Angels from Anything Goes, Philia and the rest of the courtesans in Forum, The Full Monty, the entire cast of Follies, Funny Girl, and Chicago, as well as anything about sex workers in general like Fantine and the Lovely Ladies from Les Miserables, Therese Raquin, "Bring on the Men" from Jekyll and Hyde, MIss Saigon, Sweet Charity, Moulin Rouge, Mimi from both La Boheme and Rent, as well as any consensual sex scenes in any play like Romeo and Juliet, Same Time Next Year, Dangerous Liaisons, Tartuffe, Lysistrata etc... and of course there can be no plays about rape or sexual abuse like Phaedra, Anything, Really, Really, How I Learned to Drive, Stet, Oleander, Measure for Measure, Man of La Mancha, Extremities, Rape of the Sabine Women, Blackbird, Consent, Blasted, Phaedra's Love, Cleansed, etc...
4. Gender blind casting is something we do at MCC all the time, especially in the opera, mainly because we never have enough men to fill all the male roles. Here is a list of every show we've done in the last 25 years that has included at least one (if not more) actors playing a role that was the opposite of their gender assigned at birth: Addam's Family, Puffs, No No Nanette, Mikado, Romeo and Juliet, To Kill a Mockingbird, Alice in Wonderland, The Emperor's New Clothes, Hansel and Gretel, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead, Fortinbras, Much Ado about Nothing, Pirates of Penzance, Daughter of the Regiment, Imaginary Invalid, Henry V, Once Upon a Mattress, Magic Flute, MIdsummer Night's Dream, Treasure Island, and Appointment with Death. There are probably more instances of women playing men in the chorus but these were the ones where it was a lead character.
5. Shows set in any period where men commonly wore tights, heels, wigs, and makeup. Everything written before 1800. All plays by Shakespeare, Moliere, Wycherley, Racine. Hamilton and any other plays about our founding fathers. It could be extended to include any Greek, Roman, or Byzantine plays where men wore "dresses", as well as Egyptian plays were men wore skirts and Scottish plays such as Brigadoon where men wore kilts. It would also not allow directors to set non-period plays in those periods. Additionally, would male actors be allowed to wear makeup or wigs or have long hair? Would female actors be allowed to wear pants and have short hair?
6. The casting of trans or non-binary actors unless they were cast and costumed according to their sex at birth.
And this is just how it would impact LIve Theatre.
7. What about the Comicon and Renfaire community? No more cosplaying characters different from your sex assigned at birth. I guess I have to retire my Robin and Doctor Who costumes. My daughter dressed as Penguin one year, she won't be able to do that again. My son always dresses in Wizard robes (no pants) so that's out. My husband can't wear his ancestral kilts.
8. It could also extend to what movies can be shown in theaters, which would have all the same prohibitions on subject matter, time period, costumes, makeup/hair, and casting choices as live theatre.
9. And don't forget the Live Music scene. No more sexy barely dressed female artists: Madonna, Lady Gaga, Taylor Swift, Katy Perry, Niki Minaj, Miley Cyrus, Dua Lipa, Shakira. No more hair metal bands with men in tight spandex pants, long hair, and makeup-- KISS, Cinderella, Motley Crue, Poison, Whitesnake, , Elton John. Just to be safe no singing any songs about sex or wearing sexy clothes while performing or do any sexually provocative movements while performing. Twerking would be definitely out. No more Elvis impersonators, Glee Clubs, or A Capella Groups.
10. It would affect sportsball too: Farewell to Super Bowl halftime shows. Goodbye Dallas Cowboy cheerleaders. No more high school and college cheer squads, dance teams, drill teams, color guard, and twirlers.
11. Don't forget the whole array of restaurants with scantily clad, large-breasted wait staff--I'm looking at you, Hooters. No more mimosas at Drag Brunches, birthday parties at Magic Time Machine, or turkey legs at Medieval Times.
12. Not that I'm a particular fan of strip clubs, but those are all illegal now too. Remember it's not in public AND in front of a minor, it's in public OR in front of a minor. So goodbye to any Bachelorette parties at Chippendale's; I've never been, but now I'll never get to.
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