Monday, February 11, 2013

The Question, February 11, 2013

Hosanna and the queer dissident communist revolutionary playwright monkey
by Estelle Rosen
Scott Leydon was born in Flin Flon, Manitoba, but didn’t catch the acting bug until his high school days in Sudbury, Ontario. TNC’s production of Hosanna marks Scott's first foray into the director's chair, although he has previously been seen on-stage in such roles as a dissident playwright (Private View), a communist revolutionary (Variations on the Death of Trotsky) and a queer monkey (Words, Words, Words). He is in his third year of undergraduate English studies at McGill and now self-identifies as a queer dissident communist revolutionary playwright monkey. He believes in the transformative power of theatre.
CHARPO: What can a young director bring to Hosanna?
LEYDON: What a great question! I'm actually really lucky this year to be in a seminar at McGill on Queer Theatre, and it's been helping me think through ideas of what my responsibilities or goals as a “theatre person” should be. There's this one scholar who we've been reading in class, Jill Dolan, who lays out a roadmap for doing queer theatre today. She suggests that we participate in the creation of radical new forms of performance while continuing to honour the history of earlier LGBT theatre so that we can create a shared legacy that crosses generational lines. I like this idea. 
I was initially drawn to Hosanna because I wanted to explore it in its historical context and understand how our feelings about gender, sexuality and citizenship have changed or not changed since the early 70's. In so doing, we might be able to forge productive links between young people today and their queer forebears. Also, by engaging with a great gay play like Hosanna, we (cast, crew, audiences) can hopefully start to think about how queer theatre practices have the potential to evolve, and what work is left to be done in the future.

Of course, the issue of growing old in the LGBT community is central to Hosanna's story, and even though I don't have much first-hand experience with this process (yet), I would hate to see Hosanna gather dust in the theatre archives simply because she belongs to a different era. She would be devastated if she never got to strut her stuff on stage again, right? I think Hosanna and Cuirette deserve to be re-invested with a certain youthful energy even though they are, on the surface, queers of a certain age.
Directing the play in a student theatre setting has allowed me to explore how youthfulness and maturity can be just as performative as the more obvious categories of gender, sexuality and nationality that Hosanna deals with. My cast and crew and I brought fresh new eyes to some great material, and we had a ton of fun rehearsing the play. I hope this exuberance comes across in the performances, and that the vibe will be infectious.

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