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Diversionary Theatre Launches 34th Season

Artistic director Matt Morrow says the theme is ‘we are’

Photo credit: Simpatika

It's 1993 and Mike (Michael Louis Cusimano) and Will (Shaun Tuazon) discover mixtapes are the language of love in the jukebox musical "Girlfriend," which opens Diversionary Theatre's 34th season.

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Artistic director Matt Morrow previews Diversionary Theatre's 34th season and explains its theme of "We Are."

Aired: September 12, 2019 | Transcript

Artistic director Matt Morrow previews Diversionary Theatre's 34th season and explains its theme of "We Are."

Founded in 1986, Diversionary Theatre set out to provide quality theater for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities. Its mission is "to provide an inspiring and thought provoking theatrical platform to explore complex and diverse LGBT stories, which influence the larger cultural discussion."

Listen to this story by Beth Accomando.

Matt Morrow enters his fifth year as executive artistic director, which entails not only providing the vision for the theater by programming the main stage season but also offering executive leadership that includes overseeing the budget, marketing and fundraising as well as keeping the company financially viable.

Selecting the plays takes an enormous amount of time as Morrow reads hundreds of scripts starting every fall and continuing into early spring.

"When I program a season of plays and musicals I don't start reading the scripts with a particular theme in mind," Morrow said. "One (theme) sort of reveals itself to me as I'm reading the scripts and this season what emerged was the theme 'we are,' and it's really about the entire LGBT community. I'd like to say that this season is our most inclusive season to date. It's about exploring the identity of everyone in our community. And this year we are especially proud to lean into the conversation around gender and gender nonconformity. So that's really exciting. I feel like that's at the forefront of our national conversation right now. Providing a platform for our gender non-conforming and trans community to be heard and seen I think is really important right now at this moment in time."

But the play that opens the 34th season is one that looks back to the past to explore some of the history of the LGBT community.

"'Girlfriend' is a really sweet new musical by Todd Almond and Matthew Sweet. It's sort of inspired by Matthew Sweet's seminal '90s power pop album of the same name. It's a jukebox musical but it tells an original story of these two young men graduating from high school in 1993 and slowly falling in love with each other and what that means in the '90s and what that means when you're 18 years old and looking at the rest of your life and determining who you are and who you want to be and navigating that really tricky road of identity," Morrow said. "I feel like it's just a really bright powerful and optimistic way into our 34th season here at Diversionary."

Morrow is also excited about bringing David Sedaris' "Santaland Diaries" to the intimate Diversionary stage.

"What's fun about 'Santaland Diaries' is that we're actually rethinking our entire venue for it. So when people come to Diversionary for the 'Santaland Diaries' as soon as they walk into our lobby they're going to be bombarded by the holiday spirit. Justin Humphries, this genius set designer, is going to be working to recreate the Santaland experience that you have when you go to Macy's right when you walk in the door," Morrow said. "Usually people when they come to see a show a diversionary that come out the front steps with 'Santaland Diaries' we're gonna take them the back way and wind them up through the back stairs all of which will be an immersive Santaland experience, onto the stage where they'll meet Santa. They'll get to sit in Santa's lap, get a picture taken and then enjoy the show."

The play will be performed in tandem with Sedaris' less often produced "Season's Greetings" in which Linda Libby will perform as Mrs. Dunbar, a cheery woman who recounts her family's apocalyptic year.

Diversionary will also host the world premiere of Sylvan Oswald's "A Kind of Weather."

"Sylvan Oswald is a really fabulous trans playwright based in Los Angeles and his new play is about a writer trying to write his autobiography about his gender transition while he's navigating his love life and his relationship with his father who's just moved in with him," Morrow said. "It's hilarious. It's moving and it's really insightful about the trans experience and I couldn't be more excited to be producing its world premiere."

The 34th season will end with another jukebox musical this one using the songs of The Go Go's called "Head Over Heels."

"Girlfriend" opens Thursday and runs through Oct. 13.

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Photo of Beth Accomando

Beth Accomando
Arts & Culture Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI cover arts and culture, from Comic-Con to opera, from pop entertainment to fine art, from zombies to Shakespeare. I am interested in going behind the scenes to explore the creative process; seeing how pop culture reflects social issues; and providing a context for art and entertainment.

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