Rent - December 14 - December 16, 2023

The Beacon School

 From the Director 

In 2007 my students legitimately bullied me into producing RENT; School Edition. How I loved that ragamuffin company of early B’DAT students who pushed every boundary and then some. I’m pleased to report that most of them are still working artists. Roger is a video producer on the West Coast. Mark is getting his MFA in Paris. You might have seen Mimi on Billions, attended a music festival produced by Alexi Darling. Collins is a playwright. Steve was the first AD on The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, Mr. Jefferson has been directing on Broadway. Joanne is a poet, Maureen has a PhD. They are all proof to me that making art in high school is worth it and that Beacon remains a very special place to start.


Teaching theater, which is really teaching empathy in an increasingly detached and chaotic world, is rather like shouting into a void. But here in our little community of creators we listen - deeply. To each other. To difference. To common ground. To history. To the lessons generations before us left behind. 


It took the Covid crisis for me to clock and reckon with how the AIDS crisis rocked my adolescence and young adulthood. A former B’DAT kid who became a friend more like family spent much of quarantimes living in my spare room. We spent hours watching TV we never had time for in “regular times”. A few episodes into the AIDS Crisis themed It’s a Sin, she turned to me and said “Sh*t ma, I totally get you now. You’re so prissy about the strangest things. This is the world you grew up in? Oh my god.” It hit me like a train. 


Despite priding myself on being present and honest and completely dedicated to my work and my art - I am prissy about the strangest things. I am obsessed with history, especially queer history, because there is a giant void in the generation before me that should have helped me figure out how to exist as a gay person in this messy world. 


I spent my 20s working as an activist and educator in the HIV/ AIDS community. I helped raise money and awareness. I rode my bike all over the country and coached others to do the same. I was still working for the AIDS Ride when Harry Streep recruited me to come to Beacon. At the time it felt like a hard left out of my life, but here we are. I’m still teaching people about the AIDS Crisis and how art can save lives. Everytime I see a commercial for some new pharmaceutical that makes life with HIV possible, even undetectable, I am so proud. Then I cry. My beautiful students can't fathom a world where the fear of AIDS made young folx freeze and live without touch for decades.


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