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Lives overlapping

U.S. premiere of German play gets tight Studio production

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‘The Golden Dragon’
Through Dec. 11
Studio Theatre
1501 14th Street, NW
$35-$69
202-332-3300
studiotheatre.org

The cast of ‘The Golden Dragon.’ (Photo courtesy Studio)

When the rotten tooth of a newly arrived Asian immigrant employed at a Chinese restaurant in a European city can land in the steamy soup of a sleepy flight attendant who has stopped by for a late bite after completing an eighteen hour flight home from South America, there is little question that the world has become an increasingly interconnected place.

With “The Golden Dragon,” Germany’s most-produced playwright Roland Schimmelpfennig makes the concept of globalization relatable by overlapping the tough lives of economic refugees with those who live (sometimes literally) on top of them but never really see them. While a lot of what Schimmelpfennig portrays is very comic, he’s also not afraid to reveal the seamier side of a shrinking planet whose people meet on a less-than-even playing field.

At 80 minutes, this funny/disturbing work is centered on the lives of those who live and toil in one particular urban building. Through deftly drawn, quick paced, surprising scenes, various stories unfold. On the first floor there’s a Chinese/Thai/Vietnamese restaurant (the Golden Dragon). In its tiny kitchen five Asians busily turn out various dishes whose ingredients — ginger, chicken, button mushrooms, etc. — they mechanically pronounce aloud. Occasionally the youngest among them howls in pain from a horrendous toothache. Because he’s an undocumented worker with no money, a dentist is out of the question. Instead, the kitchen’s male elder addresses the problem with a pair of red-handled pliers.

In the apartments above the Golden Dragon other dramas play out: A straight couple’s marriage hits the rocks hard; an old man mourns the loss of his youth and virility; a young couple deals with an unwanted pregnancy; and a creepy shopkeeper tragically shares his Asian sex slave.

For this tight and well executed Studio Theatre production (the play’s U.S. premiere), gay director Serge Seiden brings together an especially diverse cast of three men and two women who cross age, race and gender to play 16 characters. Using a few props (including woks and spatulas) and minimal costumes (paper hats and hand bags), they adroitly move and switch roles through the play’s many brief-but-often-intense scenes. The phenomenal pacing and precise staging isn’t easy, but for press matinee the talented ensemble was definitely on point, working together as if the show were much further into its five-week run.

Local favorite Sarah Marshall (who’s gay) effectively plays a wide range of characters from maternal old cook to sleazy middle-aged man. Also featured are Amir Darvish (well known for playing the late gay rock star Freddie Mercury in an acclaimed off-Broadway one-man show), Joseph Anthony Foronda, KK Moggie and Chris Myers.

The design team is terrific too. Michael Giannitti’s lighting ingeniously alters Debra Booth’s gray blank slate set. At one point, he recreates that specific lighting found on a transatlantic flight when most passengers are still asleep and someone opens their window shade, allowing a stream of glaring morning sun to enter the cabin; and later he captures the nocturnal glow of the street lamp seen from a darkened apartment.

Though set in Europe, Schimmelpfennig’s play is, of course, entirely relevant here too. His writing and Seiden’s fine production are both thought provoking and not easily forgotten.

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Photos: Reston Pride

In-person festival returns

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Attendees of Reston Pride dance to a recording of 'YMCA' by the Village People. (Washington Blade photo by Michael Key)

The 2021 Reston Pride Festival was held at Lake Anne Plaza in Reston, Va. on Saturday. (Washington Blade photos by Michael Key)

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Calendar: June 18-24

Events in the week to come

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Friday, June 18

Join the National Archives and Bishopsgate Institute Special Collections and Archives as they present their LGBTQ+ archive collections virtually at 8 a.m. In this event, Vicky Iglikowski-Broad from The National Archives and Stefan Dickers from Bishopsgate will explore the different strengths of their collections, to reflect on how they can be used together to build a fuller picture of LGBTQ+ lives. Event registration is available on Eventbrite.

“DISDance, Pride Edition- Still We Dance” will be at 6:30 p.m. Join the D.C. Public Library and show your Pride by dancing with the Library’s Freegal music collections. Post a video or photo of you and your crew dancing or lip-syncing to Instagram and tag D.C. Public Library on Instagram (@dcpubliclibrary) using the tags #DCPLDanceParty and #StillWeDance. The library’s favorite videos will be shared, and crown the video with the most likes the virtual Queen of Pride. All four Pride playlists are available on Freegal with the names Still We Lead, Still We Live, Still We Laugh, and Still We Love.

Saturday, June 19

Join the DC Center for its virtual job club, a weekly job support program to help job entrants and seekers, including the long-term unemployed, improve self-confidence, motivation, resilience and productivity for effective job searches and networking. The event begins on Zoom at 6 p.m. For more information, email [email protected].

Sunday, June 20

Join the DC Center and the Beta Kappa Chapter of the Beta Phi Omega Sorority for a peer-led support group devoted to the joys and challenges of being a Black lesbian. You do not need to be a member of the Beta Kappa Chapter or the Beta Phi Omega Sorority in order to join, but they do ask that you either identify as a lesbian or are questioning that aspect of your identity. This event will be hosted on Zoom at 1 p.m. More details are available here.

Monday, June 21

The Center Aging Coffee Drop-In will still take place virtually at 10 a.m. via Zoom. LGBT Older Adults (and friends) are invited to have friendly conversations about current issues they might be dealing with. For more information, visit Center Aging’s webpage.

Join GenderQueer DC for a monthly support group on Zoom for people who identify outside of the gender binary. Whether you’re bigender, agender, genderfluid, or just know that you’re not 100% cis – this is your group. The event will be at 7 p.m. For more information, visit genderqueerdc.com.

Tuesday, June 22

The European Union Delegation to the United States will host “Joining Forces for LGBTI Rights Around the World” virtually at 9:30 p.m. This event is a discussion on how the international community can help advance LGBTI rights around the world and will feature panelists: Mark Bromley, chair of The Council for Global Equality, Olena Shevchenko, director of Insight, and Urooj Arshad, senior program manager of Dignity for All: LGBTIQ+ Assistance Program, Freedom House. Registration for this free event is available on Eventbrite.

“Rainbow Challah Tutorial and Discussion” will be at 5 p.m. on Zoom. All are welcome to attend this event. Challah is a type of bread traditionally baked to celebrate the Jewish sabbath. Attendees will be provided with the recipe and materials list in advance if they would like to make it at home. There will also be a discussion about food, identity, and community. For more information, email [email protected] or call 202-543-1778 x204.

Wednesday, June 23

Capital Pride Alliance and Hook Hall will host “Hooked on Capital Pride” at 2 p.m. There will be drink specials, music, and celebration of all things LGBTQ+. A portion of the proceeds from this event will support the Capital Pride Alliance and partner Pride organizations responsible for producing Youth Pride, Silver Pride DC, DC Black Pride, DC Latinx Pride, Capital AAPI Pride, and Trans Pride, through the GivePride365 Fund. Every reservation will include a bottle of Rose Bubbly, and cabana reservations will come with a bonus celebration kit! For more information, visit the Facebook event page.

Join the LGBTQIA Alliance Washington National Cathedral for a free webinar featuring Billy Curtis, director, Gender Equity Resource Center UC Berkeley on Zoom at 8 p.m. Curtis is a community activist and advocate who was hired as UC Berkeley’s first full-time director for LGBT Resources in 1999. Curtis is currently the director of the university’s Gender Equity Resource Center. To register for this event, visit: capitalpride.org.

Thursday, June 24

Join the DC Public Library for a poetry reading with Micah Powell from his book “Things No One Else Wants to Say.” Micah will read from his book and join a conversation with DC’s own Regie Cabico, poet and director of Capturing Fire Press. The event will be hosted on Facebook and YouTube at 5:30 p.m. To register, visit the library’s website.

Hope in a Box will host “Books That Make Us: A Pride Month Celebration of LGBTQ+ Stories” online at 8 p.m. The event will feature a number of notable figures including Jahana Hayes, member of Congress (D-Conn.) and 2016 National Teacher of the Year, Zach Stafford, columnist for MSNBC and former editor of the Advocate. Tickets are available at: hopeinabox.splashthat.com.

The DC Anti-Violence Program will have an open meeting via Zoom at 7 p.m. At this meeting, there will be opportunities to learn more and get involved in lessening violence both within and directed toward the LGBT communities. To access the Zoom link, email [email protected].

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Blade live chat with ‘Real Housewives’ author Moylan

Interview to ‘spill the tea’ on all aspects of hit Bravo franchise

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Join the Washington Blade for a live interview with Brian Moylan, a former Blade staffer and author of the new book “The Housewives: The Real Story Behind the Real Housewives.” The book explores the origins and ongoing popularity of the franchise. Moylan will be interviewed by his former boss, Blade editor Kevin Naff. The two promise to “spill the tea” Housewives-style about all aspects of the hit Bravo franchise, including whether or not the shows are scripted and just how controlling Bravo is when it comes to marketing the Housewives.

The interview will be held at 4 p.m. on Thursday, June 24 and will stream on all Blade social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. The interview will be uploaded to Instagram after it concludes.

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