gadfly

TheColu.mn’s Spotlight on the Arts features artists and organizations that have had an impact on the arts in Minnesota. If you are an artist or arts organization and would like to be profiled in our Spotlight, simply fill out our introductory form.

This week, TheColu.mn spoke with Cassandra Snow of Gadfly Theatre Productions, a queer and feminist theater company based in Minneapolis. TheColu.mn also spoke with Gadfly co-director Immanuel Elliot on KFAI’s Fresh Fruit last week. Be sure to check out the podcast.

Tell us about your form of art, performance or work.
I am one of two artistic directors of a queer and feminist theatre company who likes to fill in the gaps of what’s not being covered in art and entertainment but is super important to queer and women’s communities. This includes pro-choice stories, the intersection of being a queer person and a person of color, and stories of sexual assault and how that differs for queer people, so far–with lots of new subjects and shows on the horizon.

What inspires you?
Other queer, feminist artists making their mark and speaking their voice!

Tell us about one piece, work, or performance about which you are particularly proud?
We wrote a show called “QUEER!” that highlighted little known stories of LGBTQIA* oppression–the ones you don’t hear, including what happens when different members of the community turn on each other.

How did Gadfly get started and how long has it been around?
Gadfly just celebrated their fourth anniversary in March, and we got started because myself and Immanuel, best friends of over six years, didn’t see the types of stories we wanted to see told being told. There were some strong women, and some strong LGBTQIA* characters, but it either never seemed to be their story, or the portrayal was full of stereotypes and caricatures. There were a few solid pieces or even theatre companies, but it still felt really uneven in terms of visibility. We decided to start the company to tell the stories we wanted to see–queer stories about more than coming out, women’s stories about more than leaving a male partner, etc. We decided just to go for it and do it!

Do you have volunteer opportunities or ways for people to get involved?
Yes, yes, yes! We are always looking for volunteers to help us with marketing and fundraising, as well as helping facilitate the special events that we produce to build a sense of community and camraderie around our shows between actors, technicians, and of course, audience. We also just opened up company membership–company membership is largely volunteer, although there is a stipend per show, and involves taking on a specific role within the company as well as meeting once a month to brainstorm and help plan and implement. To get involved, just e-mail us at gadflytheatre@gmail.com–let us know what you’re interested in doing, a little bit about your experience, and of course your name and preferred gender pronouns so we know who we’re talking to.

How do artists/actors/performers get involved with Gadfly?
The best thing for actors to do is either sign up for our newsletter or follow us on Facebook to keep track of when open auditions are. Most auditions are open. We strongly encourage people who identify as LGBTQIA* and make no show of hiding it and people who fit into other marginalized groups–ethnic and racial minorities, disabled artists, etc. to audition, but consider everyone who comes in. If you wrote something or want to collaborate on a project or are a technician, just send us your script/project summary/tech resume/etc. and let us know what you’re looking for.

Additionally, we have three in-house shows that are being devised now–one of little-known stories of LGBTQIA* oppression and how it might intersect with other forms of oppression one faces, one of aging and stories of those 55+ in the queer community, and one about sexual assault and consent in the queer community, so if you’re not an artist but want to see your story told and fit those bills, please, just contact us.

Basically the best way to get involved is let us know you want to be! We pride ourselves on being really welcoming and inclusive, so don’t be shy. Even if you don’t know how you could be involved, shoot us an introduction and see what happens!

How do you think theatre and performance can advance issues important to queer and feminist communities?
We talk about this a lot in board and company meetings, and the consensus is usually that it puts a face and a relatable story to the issue being discussed. It’s hard as activists to think of everything so intellectually all the time–putting it in an artistic format does the double duty of softening the blow by making it personal and familiar–and also inspiring one to action, because it now is personal and familiar. Art has long been seen as a way to open people’s hearts and minds, and in addition to doing that, our experience is that it also opens the gateways to important conversations. Additionally, most marginalized people just want their story to be told, and most audiences are hungry for something new to think about and see. When you’re a company providing those opportunities, you’re directly fulfilling a need for those people.

Find Gadfly online at gadflytheatre.org

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Andy Birkey

Andy Birkey has written for a number of Minnesota and national publications. He founded Eleventh Avenue South which ran from 2002-2011, wrote for the Minnesota Independent from 2006-2011, the American Independent from 2010-2013. His writing has appeared in The Advocate, The Star Tribune, The Huffington Post, Salon, Cagle News Service, Twin Cities Daily Planet, TheUptake, Vita.mn and much more. His writing on LGBT issues, the religious right and social justice has won awards including Best Beat Reporting by the Online News Association, Best Series by the Minnesota chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists, and an honorable mention by the Sex-Positive Journalism awards.

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