Tag: LGBT

Plan-B In Its 25th Season

Since their establishment in 1991, Plan-B has created “unique and socially conscious theatre” for Salt Lake City, Utah residents and its visitors.

The original Plan-B founders, Tobin Atkinson and Cheryl Ann Cluff, started out as theatre students at Southern Utah State College (now Southern Utah University), but opening their own theatre was actually their “Plan B.” As they describe, “Plan A” was for them to make it big in New York City as famous actors. “Plan B” was to create a place for more diverse, socially conscious theatre they rarely saw performed in Salt Lake City. They ended up going with Plan-B.

They have always wanted to focus on new plays by Utah playwrights to give their pieces a local point-of-view, and when they began their journey, they started out producing original works by Atkinson himself. But when Atkinson decided to join the Army back in 2000, Jerry Rapier came on in his place.

A year later, the company found huge success with their production of The Laramie Project, a play about the murder of a gay University of Wyoming student in 1998. That success is what reaffirmed their understanding that there was indeed a huge need for socially conscious theatre, while solidifying their commitment to producing at least one LGBT-focused play each season (which the company has done ever since.)

Their overall mission and greatest challenge now with each piece they produce is to create a conversation with their audience, to provide an opportunity for patrons to consider new points-of-view, and to help their viewers reflect deeply on the lives of others.

All in all, Plan-B has produced 83 world premieres. Of these premieres, they were proud to produce Utah’s first play by both an African American playwright as well as an Asian American playwright. Nationally, five of their plays have been nominated for the American Theatre Critics Association/Steinberg Award for Best New American Play Produced Outside New York and three have gone on to be performed in New York.

This year, they were honored with the Utah’s Governor’s Leadership in the Arts Award and Salt Lake City’s Mayor’s Artist Award for Service to the Arts by an Organization. But they have also been the proud recipients of many awards over the years, including:

  • Utah Governor’s Organization Leadership in the Arts Award (2015)
  • Salt Lake City’s Mayor’s Artist Award for Service to the Arts by an Organization (2015)
  • Best Drama, United Solo Theatre Festival, New York (ERIC(A) by Matthew Ivan Bennett, 2013)
  • Transgender Education Advocates of Utah’s Organization of the Year (2013)
  • Human Rights Campaign’s Equality Award – Organization (2011)
  • Transgender Education Advocates of Utah’s Organization of the Year (2010)
  • Equality Utah’s Allies for Equality Award – Organization (2007)
  • 20 QSaltLake Fabby Awards (2005-present), including ‘Best Local Theatre Company’ all 11 years the award has existed
  • 50 City Weekly Slammy/Arty Awards (2000-present), including ‘Best Local Theatre Production’ 13 of the past 14 seasons

Plan B’s 25th Season has been full of incredible actors, playwrights, directors, and important social issues. And we are especially looking forward to Kingdom of Heaven by Jenifer Nii and David Evanoff which will run March 31 – April 10, 2016. This piece is supported in part by the Peace & Possibility Project.

This production explores our universal quest for self-acceptance complicated by our culture of perfection through the life of one Mormon housewife’s affinity for drag. When Mary Jane (Jeanette Puhich) discovers her true calling (as a drag king), she must traverse the landscape of impactful affects on her family, marriage, friendships, and faith.

As our conversation on LGBTQ matters grows and evolves nationwide, this play will explore the important roles (especially within religion) that we assign to women and how they can differ in huge and often harmful ways from who women truly are and want to be. Locally, this speaks very true to Utah’s large Mormon population.

The play will be directed by Jerry Rapier himself, and as he told QSaltLake Magazine, “It’s very universal in its approach to what it means to be a woman who doesn’t fit into the faith that she loves.”

Written from the author of Wallace (co-written with Debora Threedy), The Scarlet Letter, Suffrage and Ruff!, and the musical director of Hedwig and the Angry Inch and the composer of six Radio Hour episodes.

Plan-B has told so many powerful stories through theater, and it is through productions like this that we can come together as a community to understand both our differences and similarities and hopefully create a more empathetic and understanding place to live.

Jane Marquardt and Tami are proud to support Plan-B and their ongoing efforts to bringing awareness and understanding to important social issues.

Peace & Possibility Project Speaker Series Thrives

Hosted at the Weber State University’s LGBT Resource Center, the Marquardt Peace & Possibility Speaker Series continues to work to improve the university’s culture of tolerance and acceptance by inviting leading LGBTQ activists and advocates to campus. This work aims to nurture a sense of inclusion and allyship. Jane and Tami donated a substantial sum to ensure the project is properly funded to achieve this important goals.

When she spoke at the center, Jane shared, “For decades, Weber State has been the leader in northern Utah in promoting conversations surrounding diversity and the LGBT community.   I am so proud of the leadership demonstrated by Weber State, and the opportunities the university is opening for people of all backgrounds throughout Utah.”

The LGBT Resource Center Coordinator, Jayson Stokes, stated the value of their donation in empowering the center to stay open and to eventually expand. It was the first large endowment granted to the newly minted LGBT Resource Center and represents what will hopefully be just the first in a long line of symbolic investments in the center’s mission. Jane Marquardt had previously gifted the university a sum which became the Phoenix Achievement scholarship for Women. Jane is closely associated to the university, a relationship which dates back to the 1980’s when she taught as an adjunct professor there, as well as served on the Board of Trustees.

Since opening in the beginning of 2015, the LGBT Resource Center has organized and cosolidated campus resources available for LGBT students and allies who need them. They also invest in organizations that provide access to legal support for communities in need.

The 2015 Utah Pride Festival Is Poised For Success

janemarquardtDowntown Salt Lake City is buzzing with eager anticipation as this year’s Utah Pride Festival approaches. Held this week from Thursday, June 4 to Sunday, June 7, the celebration showcases our state’s proud lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. Organized and managed by the Utah Pride Center, the event hosts a massive array of exciting and positive activities, including Utah’s second-largest parade, the Pride Parade. The theme for 2015 is Pride Is…, purposefully designed to encourage everyone to reflect on and embrace the meaning of Pride for them personally.

The Utah Pride Festival began in 1974 as a small, informal gathering in City Creek Park of proud residents who were ready and willing to celebrate their community. Joe Redburn and the staff of the Sun Tavern loosely organized it. In the decades since, it has grown to meteoric proportions and become a staple of the city’s annual calendar, serving as a bright and bold opportunity to come together, educate, and revel in the robust diversity of the community. These days, the Festival attracts over 35,000 participants – and that number grows every year! Nearly 1,000 volunteers will cover 1,400 shifts and vendors will staff hundreds of booths. The Pride Parade alone included 143 entries last year and drew about 25,000 spectators.

The 2015 iteration includes a number of exciting activities for LGBTQ community members, families, friends, and allies. On Thursday, the Community of Christ will host an Interfaith Service at First Baptist Church. The following evening begins with the Grand Marshal Reception. This year’s Grand Marshal is Janet Mock, the prominent advocate, speaker, and New York Times bestelling author. In addition to receptions, the Grand Marshal leads the Pride Parade. Afterwards, there will be poster making and rallies, followed by a kick-off party and Opening Ceremonies.

Saturday afternoon, the Festival Gates open at 3pm. Festival organizers have planned a number of “zones” for different activities and to cater to different visitors, including a SAGE Zone (for everyone), a Youth Zone, a Family Zone, a Gender Zone (to celebrate and support transgender identities), a Health Zone, a Pet Zone, a History Zone, and several more. At 8pm headliner DEV will take the stage. The rest of the evening is dedicated to a dance party. Sunday starts with a Pride Day 5k Fun Run at 9 in the morning, followed by the beloved Utah Pride Parade at 10. The Festival Gates open again at 11am, with entertainment scheduled (including headliner XELLE) until the Festival closes at 7pm.

The Utah Pride Center oversees the Festival, in addition to a growing portfolio of ongoing and annual services, events, and activities that support the state’s LGBT community. The Center evolved from the Utah Stonewall Center which was founded in the early 1990s.