In the wake of a new era

Miss Gilda Shedstecker Presents!We wake to a new day and new information and find we need to reassess our position. It’s always been my intent to make the Gilda company one of kindness and acceptance and tolerance and a safe place. And it’s been my need to make Gilda shows vehicles for escape and laughter, with maybe a social barb or two to prick the conscience. About the time we produced Abraham Lincoln’s Big Gay Dance Party we found ourselves being called Stark County’s gay theatre, and I bristled a bit at that. I don’t like labels. And besides, I believe our barbs are more diverse than LGBT in nature, Abraham Lincoln being a statement on racism as well as gay rights, for example. But after much reflection and the overwhelming support of the Gilda company, I decided to own that label.

But in this last year, with the Supreme Court’s decision for marriage equality and the seeming progress of acceptance, I thought perhaps Gilda Shedstecker Presents! had arrived late to the party after most of the protesting was over. Maybe we were passé and didn’t have much new to say.

And then this 2016 Presidential election. Gathering in the aftermath with new friends, I was stricken by the realization that I was in the company of liberals, LGBT allies, right here in Canton who had never heard of Gilda Shedstecker Presents! and they had no idea that Stark County had its own gay theatre. They were expressing concern that people were too isolated, too ignorant, too fearful of the wrong kind of change. And I was worried that the party was over?

So there you have it. Yes, we are Stark County’s gay theatre. Our shows are diverse. Our shows are pointed. Our shows sometimes feature drag, but always feature heart. Our entire goal is to communicate that the world is full of color and it is beautiful, and nobody is better than another. And if you think all you’re going to hear from Gilda Shedstecker is LGBT propaganda, you aren’t listening and you don’t want to know your fellow man.

Coming in January 2017 is Alfred Uhry‘s classic Driving Miss Daisy, a lovely and funny observation on a relationship that evolves throughout the landscape of racial consciousness. There’s our hidden barb for Winter.

And coming in May 2017 is Harvey Fierstein’s Tony winning Torch Song Trilogy, a look at the evolving world of a gay man in the 1970s and 80s. Called “the zappiest evening of theatre you could ask for” by Newsweek, there is our hidden barb for Spring.

Today, there is an abundance of posts on Facebook about the immediate bigotry performed in the name of the President-elect, rearing its savage and poisonous head. Last year we naively hoped such inhumanity was heading for the shadows. No, sadly, there is still a need for Gilda Shedstecker Presents! I am so very proud of the family that is our company of performers and crew people who are dedicated to that vision of breaking down walls. I am so very touched by our audiences who embrace and share our message. I am so very grateful for the support of our venue, the Kathleen Howland Theatre at Avenue Arts Marketplace. I love them all. We’ll see you at the show.

~Doug

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