Through Oct. 19
1101 Sixth Street, S.W.
In theater, longtime collaboration is not uncommon. For Canadian playwright/director Morris Panych and his husband, set designer Ken MacDonald, it’s a way of life.
Together, the pair has worked on about 90 productions. Both agree their joint projects can be trying, but they’re always the most fulfilling. “Nobody argues like we do in terms of design,” MacDonald says cheerily and without hesitation. “Other directors like my work from the start, but Morris can be critical. He loves design and as director ultimately has the last word.”
“It’s true,” agrees Panych. “When you collaborate with someone for years whether you live together or not, you get to know them really well — weaknesses and defaults and when they fake an easy route. You call them on it and it irritates them. But it also brings out their best.”
Currently, the couple is in Washington premiering Panych’s “The Shoplifters” at Arena Stage’s Kreeger Theatre. The biting comedy features Broadway’s Jayne Houdyshell as Alma, a career shoplifter whose thieving ways are about to be cut short by an overzealous security guard.
“Morris likes to write about petty things,” says MacDonald during a recent chat in one of Arena’s comfortable backstage rooms. The couple finishes each other sentences and talks over one another in a funny but singularly polite way. “That’s true,” Panych says. “I like starting off with something small — like a woman stealing a steak — and extrapolating it into a huge deal.”
Have either ever shoplifted? “No. Never,” says McDonald. But Panych says, “Sure. Long ago before I had a career, I took meat. My friends and I liked to do steak fondues.”
Panych, 62, began his career as an actor but later branched out into directing and playwriting which he had studied in college: “Acting can be humiliating and alienating. Not so much in theater, but as an actor you have to try to get all kinds of work to survive and the judgment is nonstop. I wanted other ways to express myself creatively.”
Throughout most of his 20s, MacDonald, 61, was a high school art teacher. “I was never trained in set designer. I’m foremost a drawer/painter. I draw my sets and then figure out how to build them.”
“He has no technical skills,” says Panych wryly. “But Ken does have great ideas.”
“The Shoplifters” is set in a grocery store break room. Rather than design a generically drab space, MacDonald has constructed a dizzyingly high tower of 800 brown packing boxes interrupted by brightly colored patches of laundry detergent and breakfast cereals. Some of the custom made boxes float like clouds and light shines through the spaces that separate them. “Other directors expect something more realistic. But Morris and I believe theater should be theater. It should make a statement.”
“The play is approached from an absurdist, mock naturalistic point of view. It has to be dreamlike,” Panych says. “We have people surrounded by stuff. We live in a hugely consumeristic world with a huge dichotomy between the haves and have nots. There’s a shockingly large amount of shit in the world. Boxes represent all that we live in.”
Together 34 years, the Toronto-based couple married in 2004. “It was shortly after same sex marriage had become legal in parts of Canada. And there was talk that the right might be taken away. So we thought we’d better do it. Now no one in Canada cares. That’s what I foresee for the U.S. in a couple years.”
In addition to opening “The Shoplifters,” they’re also designing upcoming productions of Panych’s next new play, and the musical “Sweet Charity” for Ontario’s Shaw Festival in May. Right now they’re fighting a lot, says the couple. But it’s not they’re fault. They blame the deadlines.
“We’re fine,” Panych says.
“We’re used to it,” MacDonald adds.
Gay journalist Chuck Colbert dies
Long-time reporter covered Catholic clergy sexual abuse
Chuck Colbert had a touch of old Cary Grant in him — dashing and debonair in his tuxedo at swank LGBTQ events. But he was also deeply humble and bursting with joy from his lifelong devotion to the core beliefs of the Catholic Church.
His journalistic discipline controlling his personal anguish over the proclamations about homosexuality enabled him as an out gay man to report professionally on the sex abuse scandals that rocked the Catholic Church in the early 2000s.
As a regular freelance contributor to the National Catholic Reporter and other media outlets, Chuck debunked tirades against gays and often underscored how girls and young women had been raped and abused by priests and church officials, too.
I thought about this a lot when I heard that Chuck had died on June 30. He was 67.
I was shocked by his sudden passing and how long it took to find out he had died. I met him decades ago through the National Gay and Lesbian Journalists Association. Why did it take a month and a half for news of his passing to spread?
Chuck’s friend Karen Allshouse posted news on his Facebook page: “I’ve learned that while visiting in Johnstown [Pa.] he developed a serious medical issue (involving his esophagus reportedly) and he needed to be transferred to a higher level of medical care and was transferred to a Pittsburgh hospital. Respiratory complications developed and he died. For those who are concerned about his mom — a former high school teacher of his (English) accompanied his mom to the cemetery for the committal service.”
I considered Chuck a loving friend and a journalistic colleague but I realized I actually knew little about him. Our friendship ranged from email exchanges to quick chats at events to deep conversations about religion, including the influence of Thomas à Kempis’ “The Imitation of Christ.”
If anyone sought to imitate Christ, it was Chuck Colbert. He was kind without thinking about it. He walked the walk and scolded those who didn’t but claimed to have created the path.
On March 17, 2002, two months after the Boston Globe exposed the sexual child abuse by priests rotting the foundation of the Boston archdiocese (depicted in the movie “Spotlight,”) Chuck wrote an op-ed in the Boston Herald entitled “Leaders of Catholic Church Must Listen to All the Faithful.”
“Clearly, the Catholic Church in Boston is in crisis. Some blame ‘militant homosexuals’ among the clergy, branding them ‘a true plague on the priesthood.’ Is the crisis, in fact, rooted there? Let me offer another perspective — one based on more than 25 years of faith life as a convert. First, I have failed, somehow, to encounter any Catholic Church culture characterized by ‘priestly homosexuals run amok with no fear of condemnation.’ The reality is significantly more boring,” Chuck wrote.
He went on to describe his scholarly and theological journey from the University of Notre Dame to Georgetown University, Harvard University and Weston Jesuit School of Theology, receiving degrees at each stop.
“Still, it was not until I arrived in Cambridge 15 years ago that my spiritual desolation over the conflict between my sexual identity and my religious conviction found its positive counterpart: consolation,” Chuck wrote in the Boston Herald. “The catalyst for that life-saving, personal transformation began when a bright and theologically astute Jesuit priest became my spiritual director.
“He listened,” Chuck continued. “Over time, I broke the silence of my anguished pilgrim journey and its struggle with homosexuality. He understood that I carried with me the heavy baggage of church teaching, those deeply wounding, soul-shaming words from the Catechism, ‘objective disorder’ and ‘intrinsic evil,’ that pathologize (and objectify) same-gender love and its sexual expression. Through the respectful, nonjudgmental listening and guidance of spiritual direction and through richer encounters of God’s grace in the sacraments, therapy, and prayer, I came to experience God’s unconditional love. I now feel, to the core of my being, that God loves me (I suspect you) along with all my quirky postmodern, American, but very human, strengths and vulnerabilities.”
Chuck became an expert reporter covering the Catholic Church sex abuse scandal. During a May 7, 2002, appearance on CNN, Chuck responded to a question about the culpability of Cardinal Bernard Law, Archbishop of Boston.
“I think the question raises a very interesting question, or point,” Chuck said. “And it is not just the personality of the cardinal. Other bishops who were auxiliary bishops at the time [of Fr. John Geoghan’s arrest for child molestation and release] and are now bishops in other places, as the [Father Paul] Shanley documents have been revealed, these show higher levels of involvement of knowledge. And so it is systemic — but it is also the leadership, the broad leadership that Cardinal Law mustered to either handle or mishandle this scandal, and I think that we will see more of that come out in court.”
Chuck’s expertise was invaluable to the LGBTQ community, as National LGBTQ Task Force Communications Director Cathy Renna told the Windy City Times.
“Chuck was a friend and colleague — one who was extraordinarily principled and helpful, especially when addressing issues related to the LGBTQ community and the Catholic Church. He was instrumental in helping us frame and address the abuse scandal when church leaders scapegoated gay priests, as a person of faith and an intellectual,” Renna said. “[W]orking with him was a vital part of my work taking on the Catholic Church hierarchy while at GLAAD, along with other queer and allied groups. But he was also a pleasure to be friends with, who found joy in life and our community, and was one of the people I most looked forward to seeing at the NLGJA convention and other events. He will be greatly missed.”
Chuck caused some ripples in my life after an interview we did for the online LGBTQ press trade newsletter Press Pass Q in 2016 about my being laid off as news editor by my longtime publisher Frontiers Newsmagazine.
Chuck had interviewed Bobby Blair, chief executive officer of Multimedia Platforms Worldwide, and the new publisher of Frontiers.
“Unfortunately, Karen fell where we realized we were moving toward a digital and Millennial audience, and we wanted to give the generation of Millennials a real shot at creating our content,” Blair told Chuck. “Did you get that on tape?” I asked him.
Chuck Colbert summed up his philosophy via a quote from Leo Tolstoy’s “War and Peace:”
“Life is everything. Life is God. Everything shifts and moves, and this movement is God. And while there is life, there is delight in the self-awareness of the divinity. To love life is to love God. The hardest and most blissful thing is to love this life in one’s suffering, in the guiltlessness of suffering.”
Karen Ocamb an award winning veteran journalist and the former editor of the Los Angeles Blade, has chronicled the lives of LGBTQ+ people in Southern California for over 30 plus years.
She is currently the Director of Media Relations for Public Justice.
She lives in West Hollywood with her two beloved furry ‘kids’ and writes occasional commentary on issues of concern for the greater LGBTQ+ community.
Carl Nassib returns to Tampa
Former Las Vegas Raiders defensive end came out as gay in June 2021
The 29-year-old defensive end was released by the Las Vegas Raiders in March, and became a free agent. NFL sources said that was due to his contracted salary amount — $7.75 million — and not any reflection on his sexual orientation.
ESPN’s Adam Schefter broke the news with a tweet.
Buccaneers reached agreement on a one-year deal with former Raiders’ DE Carl Nassib, per source.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) August 15, 2022
When Nassib came out last summer, he announced he was donating $100,000 to the Trevor Project, and for Pride Month this year he made a new pledge to help LGBTQ youth. He promised to match donations to the Trevor Project, dollar for dollar, up to $100,000.
Will Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady welcome Nassib?
As Outsports reported, he’s never made any comments about playing with someone gay. Brady’s former New England Patriots teammate Ryan O’Callaghan recalled that before he came out in 2017, following his retirement, there was one time that he missed the team bus and Brady gave him a ride in his car to that day’s practice.
O’Callaghan told Outsports he believes Brady would have “absolutely” accepted him if he had come out at that time.
“Being married to a super model I’m sure he’s met a few gay people in his life,” said O’Callaghan.
Brady wed Brazilian fashion model Gisele Bündchen in 2009.
Legendary Boston sports columnist Steve Buckley of the Athletic came out as gay in 2011 while at the Boston Herald. He told Outsports that Brady has always been friendly and cooperative, even after Buckley came out.
This is the second time around at Raymond James Stadium for Nassib. He played for the Buccaneers for two seasons prior to joining the Raiders in 2020. His NFL career began in 2016 with the Cleveland Browns.
As Jason Owens reported for Yahoo! Sports, Nassib was far more productive in Tampa as a part-time starter, recording 6.5 sacks in 2018 and six sacks in 2019. The NFL’s website shows he played just 242 defensive snaps and earned 1.5 sacks last season.
In 86 games including 37 starts, Nassib’s recorded 22 career sacks, 164 tackles, 53 quarterback hits and four forced fumbles.
In addition to Brady, Nassib’s new teammates are Akiem Hicks and William Gholston at defensive end and outside linebackers Shaquil Barrett and Joe Tryon-Shoyinka. Given that the Buccaneers finished seventh in the NFL in sacks last season with 47, Nassib will be expected to improve Tampa Bay’s chances when their season begins on Sept. 11 in Dallas.
10 LGBTQ events this week
Parties abound with Silver Pride, the ASANA Series and more
Below are our picks for some of the most fun and creative things to do this week in the DMV that are of special interest to the LGBTQ community.
UPDATE: Silver Pride was postponed; a new date is expected to be announced soon.
Join host Rayceen Pendarvis for ‘Back for the First Time: Silver Pride 2022″ at Studio Theatre this afternoon for a celebration of senior members of the LGBTQ+ community.
ASANA Series Opening Party
Tuesday, August 16
Pitchers / ALOHO
2317 18th Street, N.W.
The Amateur Sports Alliance of North America kicks off its ASANA World Series in D.C. with a party at Pitchers/ALOHO on Tuesday. The event is hosted by Ba’Naka and features special guests DJ Tracy Young, Tatiyanna Voché and E-Cleff.
NJB Hot Boy Summer Happy Hour
The Nice Jewish Boys hold a happy hour on Thursday at Number Nine.
Kaftan Couture Happy Hour
Thursday, August 18
1410 14th Street, N.W.
The D.C. Boys of Leather mix it up with a kaftan party at Trade on Thursday.
LGBTQ+ Speed Friending
Go Gay DC! hosts a meet-and-greet at Moxy on Friday. Come by to make some new friends in the LGBTQ community.
We The Kingz: Wet n’ Wild
Friday, August 19
1519 17th Street, N.W.
Rickey Rosé hosts the We The Kingz show featuring Artemis Demon, Atom Glambert, Baphomette and Phoenix King at JR.’s on Friday.
Friday, August 19
734 11th Street, N.W.
discoVERS returns to SAX for its one year anniversary with DJs Robbie Leslie and Alexis Tucci. There will be a special performance by KC B. Yoncé. The event will sell out, so get your tickets now.
ASANA Series Closing Party
Saturday, August 20
DC Brau Brewing Company
3178 Baldensburg Road, N.E., Suite B
The ASANA World Series finishes with a bang. The Closing Party will be held at DC Brau on Saturday.
Miss Gay Eastern States America
Saturday, August 20
Rehoboth Beach Convention Center
229 Rehoboth Avenue
Rehoboth Beach, Del.
Are you in Rehoboth this weekend? Catch a drag competition at the Convention Center on Saturday.
The Trailer Park Ball
Sunday, August 21
Freddie’s Beach Bar
555 23rd Street S
The Trailer Park Ball will be held on Sunday at Freddie’s. All Tips and donations are to benefit the Imperial Court of Washington and Reign X Charities.
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