This weekend, the UCSB Department of Theater and Dance will introduce two new plays written by theater graduate students as part of the annual UCSB New Plays Festival, which runs May 21-30. Two new pieces will be presented in one program: Coming In (by Stephen Ravet, directed by Andy Riggin, and starring Bryan Forrest, Christy Escobar, and Sean Harrigan) and Rebel Moon (by Brian Granger, directed by Gerry Hansen, and starring Michael Ruesga, Alexia Dox, Noemi Gonzalez, and Courtney Salvage).
I spoke with Stephen Ravet about his play Coming In, which flips the script on societal norms.
Tell me in two sentences what Coming In is all about.
Stephen Ravet: Coming In is a satirical look at the parent-child relationship in regard to sexuality. It is the story of a boy who has been raised gay; his religion is musical theater, and instead of playing sports, he attended costume class and bead-design seminars. Now he must tell his parents that he is straight. Needless to say, things don’t go so well.
Did you have any qualms about offending anyone with that scenario, specifically the queer community?
SR: [Laughs.] Not really, because I’m part of that community. I never think about if people will be offended by my work. I am worried about my mother, though.
Why is that?
SR: Well, some of the lines in the play are taken directly from when I came out. She’s going to be sitting in the audience hoping people won’t stare at her. But both my parents were very supportive of me, so it’s all good.
This sounds like a hilarious concept. Are their any serious moments in the play?
SR: Definitely. There are times when I really want people to think about our society. I want to ask serious questions through humor. Like, why is it so absurd that this boy was raised gay? And, why is this confrontation of sexuality such a big deal? If society truly was accepting of alternative lifestyles, this scenario wouldn’t be absurd, yet it is. The fact that the audience must constantly remind themselves that this scenario is ridiculous, and switch their perceptive, is how this piece achieves poignant moments.
First-year PhD student Brian Granger’s Rebel Moon is a change of pace. I also spoke with Granger, who elaborated on the nuances of his “poetically dark” piece.
What is your play trying to accomplish?
Brian Granger: Well, Rebel Moon is essentially the story of two sisters living on the urban west side of Cleveland. One of the sisters has an abusive boyfriend, Berto, whose presence creates a dark triangle between the main characters. From a conceptual point of view, the play is a bit of a fable-sort of magical realism.
Rebel Moon is a strong title. What significance does the moon have in the play?
BG: The moon is actually one of the characters, played by Courtney Salvage. The moon dances in and out of scenes, representing an almost matriarchal figure to these girls. Just like the moon changes in the sky, the moon alters itself to each character’s individual perception of it. There is this juxtaposition between the beauty of the moon and the violence of the setting.
The UCSB New Plays Festival runs May 21-23 and May 28-30 at 8 p.m., and May 23, 24, and 30 at 2 p.m. at the UCSB Performing Arts Theatre. For tickets and information, visit theaterdance.ucsb.edu or call 893-7221.