The 32nd annual Baltimore Playwrights Festival begins with Rich Espey’s “The Rainbow Plays” now running at the Fells Point Corner Theatre. Espey, a Baltimore-area resident, is a three-time winner of the Carol Weinberg Award for best play at the Baltimore Playwrights Festival for “Fifty-Fifty,” “Hope’s Arbor” and “Following Sarah.”
In “The Rainbow Plays,” under the direction of Lisa Davidson who is making her Baltimore directing debut, six distinct mini-plays, each about 10 minutes long representing the different themes contained in the rainbow or gay Pride flag are presented. A seventh play sums it all up. As in the case of that flag, “The Rainbow Plays” consist of a tapestry of discrete stories, with the only common thread woven throughout is that they are gay- or lesbian-related.
The rainbow flag, which originally had eight colors and now contains six, was designed by the artist Gilbert Baker in 1978 as a positive alternative to the pink triangle used by the Nazis to identify homosexuals. Some theorize he was inspired by the death of Judy Garland of “Over the Rainbow” fame—an iconic gay anthem—that occurred just a few days before the Stonewall uprisings in June 1969. Baker recently told a Chicago television station: “The rainbow came to mind almost instantly as an obvious expression of diversity and acceptance.”
In “The Last Blackberries of Summer,” Menika works to convince Leah that bringing new life into the world is their calling. In “Hoya Saxa,” David offers healing to Poss, the quarterback he decked, as he tries to figure out who Poss really is. Tennessee sunshine overpowers fluorescent motel room lights as Marta struggles to convince Cyn to go through with their very public wedding in a very dangerous town in “Choreography of Cyn and Marta.” “Bang Day” shows Maria torn by her boyfriend Luke’s and her girlfriend Rain’s two very different views of nature and the universe. In “Messages Deleted,” Sam, Mark and Gene achieve a painful harmony on the most difficult day of their lives. “Catch of the Day” bears witness to the playful spirit of two women (and a fish) in a flirtatious story.
Finally, “Zoo Story 2.0” weaves together all six concepts as Bob and Buttercup, two male penguins, struggle to love freely in the Central Park Zoo.
“The Rainbow Plays” runs through July 21 at the Fells Point Corner Theatre, 251 S. Ann St., Baltimore. For tickets ($15) and information, call 410-276-7837 or visit fpct.org.