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Becoming Frank

by Liz Cave

The logo of the frank theatre company which reads "The frank theatre company Queer Stories on the Vancouver Stage. Est. 1996 as Screaming Weenie Productions. The logo is in black and pink.
The logo of the frank theatre company which reads "The frank theatre company Queer Stories on the Vancouver Stage. Est. 1996 as Screaming Weenie Productions. The logo is in black and pink.   

If I did not already feel defeated on October 16th, 2003, I did by about 2:00pm that day. I was in the midst of putting in volunteer hours -at my paid job- supervising an outing with a gaggle of queer youth to a climbing gym. Apparently I had prematurely dubbed the excursion "an alcohol and drug-free event" as, by mid-afternoon, one of the participants had broken away from the group to smoke weed with a bunch of randoms. As they took a hit, my pride - which was precariously balanced on my identity as a skilled and hard-working (albeit underemployed) queer youth worker - took a different kind of hit. After the mandate of the event went up in smoke, I immediately regretted that the day's itinerary included another item : watching Jan Derbyshire's All In, a play produced by The Frank Theatre Company.

We attended, because frankly, I was too exhausted to change plans and welcomed the opportunity to sit quietly in a dark room, even if it meant watching what I was sure was going to be the worst of community theatre. Happily, the cynic in me was wrong this time, and by the end my motley crew and I were all into the play. We rounded out the evening with a discussion about inersectionality on transit that exceeded anything that I had heard people who wear funny hats to convocations say. After this play, we all learned that we had underestimated each other as willing and able to discuss with each other what diversity meant to us given our various racialized experiences, history with government care, gender expressions, educational achievement, and involvement with the street economy. This, among other experiences, helped me rediscover my pride in fostering people's connection to ideas and communities that help them discover what it means for them to live with integrity. It also sparked in me an appreciation for theatre as a medium for representing, problematizing and enlivening discussion about concepts that otherwise confound.

Now, three and a half years later, I remain all in with The Frank : first by dating (and eventually becoming common-law gay married to) the model on the playbill for All In; then by joining its board of directors; and now by leading its board as acting chair (I may be a chair but don't sit on me, okay?). I am proud to support the visionary work it has done, facilitating the public's exploration of what it means to be queer, and the place of queer individuals in society, by creating, developing, producing and presenting theatrical work that places queer issues on a global canvas.

The works The Frank Theatre Company produces showcase how issues of queer marginalization intersect with other types of marginalization (eg. economic, racial, gender, political). In the upcoming season, The Frank Theatre Company will continue to facilitate reflection and build capacity in the community through its youth writing and performance program, "Telling it Bent" and "Intersections!:" a conference interrogating how race and queerness are[n't] represented in and through Canadian theater.

Fortunately, the Frank Theatre Company does not exist in a vacuum as it would be darn near impossible for it to work towards its mandate with no community engagement. So, I would like to do a shout out to you, dear reader, and other constituents of our larger, supportive queer community. This includes the Vancouver Pride Society. When I initially contacted VPS, it was to ask for some in-kind support to deliver a fundraiser as The Frank Theatre was coming up sort on its financial targets for the end of its fiscal year. In addition to offering The Frank all the administrative support it has asked for and more, VPS offered us a very generous donation. We are touched by this show of solidarity and philanthropy, and thank the Vancouver Pride Society for building capacity in the local queer community regardless of the season.

Find the Frank Theatre Company on the web!
The Frank Theatre Company On Facebook>
Telling it Bent On Facebook
Frank Theatre Website

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