'Plays' addresses same-sex marriage

Poll after poll shows a shift toward support of same-sex marriage, a trend that is reflected in the elements that brought together “Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays.”

The program of poignant and political one-acts, running Mondays through June 27 at the L.A. Gay & Lesbian Center, come from a mix of straight and gay playwrights and presented by a rotating series of straight and gay actors. Scribes who contributed works include Paul Rudnick, Neil LaBute, Moises Kaufman, Joe Keenan and Jeffrey Hatcher. Most reflective of the state of current debate may be “On Facebook,” from Doug Wright, in which the actors recite a real Facebook thread of arguments for and against same-sex nuptials. What comes through is a skewering of the way that the comments on online forums tend to drift to the high and mighty.

The show was conceived and is directed by Brian Shnipper, who recalls a moment before the 2008 election when he was with his partner at home and realized that “it looked as if Obama were going to win and that we were about to lose Prop. 8,” he said, referring to California’s ban on same-sex marriage. “I thought, ‘What could I do?’ “

The show actually debuted as a one-night benefit at the El Portal theater in 2009, and, with producers Joan Stein and Stuart Ross and associate producer Allain Rochel, gained momentum and press attention with a subsequent performance in New York and a series of stints at the Largo at the Coronet Theatre in Los Angeles. Stars such as Kathy Najimy, Matthew Broderick, Debra Messing, Zachary Quinto and Jason Alexander have performed. On the bill for tonight’s performance are Julie Hagerty, John Glover, Rachael Harris, Bill Brochtrup, Paul McCrane and Jane Kaczmarek.

Shnipper said that he’d like to see the show move to middle-America regional theaters and universities. The show also will respond to the news cycle, with more one acts added “as the issue progresses and states one-by-one hopefully give us our rights. Then the evening will take a different direction.”

— Ted Johnson Acting Out

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