FT. LAUDERDALE — This month, when Thinking Cap Theatre (TCT) mounts Samantha Mueller’s play, Laced, the effort will amount to more than a production. In fact, TCT’s leaders are calling the project a “Get-Out-The-Vote Theatre initiative.”
“The play’s resonances with the disturbing state of the nation and the imminent election have compelled (myself and managing director Bree-Anna Obst) to work that much harder to ensure that Laced be performed as scheduled,” artistic director Nicole Stodard said.
TCT’s leaders slated Laced as one of five main stage productions for 2020. Earlier this year, TCT’s 10th anniversary season began with Samuel Beckett’s absurdist play, Happy Days.
But there were few happy days following that production; the pandemic forced most if not all theaters worldwide to close. For instance, TCT’s leaders had to postpone the remainder of its 10th anniversary season. However, the pandemic could not interfere with TCT’s plans to present Laced – in October, in the weeks leading up to the 2020 election.
“This play was slated all along to be presented this month,” Stodard said. “TCT is finally back and proudly presenting a digital run of a timely new play.”
But instead of a live production, Stodard and Obst will present Laced virtually. They will do so for two weekends – 7:30 p.m. EDT Oct. 23-25, as well as Oct. 30-Nov. 1.
Stodard referred to Mueller’s play as “possibly TCT’s most political play to date.” Indeed, Laced takes place on the eve of the 2016 election at a woman-owned, queer bar in Tampa. At the business, one or more persons has just committed a hate crime. Over the course of Laced, the characters “bare their souls as they struggle to understand, clean up, and move forward,” Stodard said. The play alternates between the moments just before and just after the hate crime happens.
Stodard said TCT (http://thinkingcaptheatre.org/) has “consistently presented bold, new plays that give voice to marginalized communities: from its very first production, Milkmilklemonade, by Joshua Conkel, to Cleansed by Sarah Kane, Straight White Men by Young Jean Lee, and Collective Rage by Jen Silverman.”
Laced “is a welcome addition to this integral facet of TCT’s programming,” Stodard said. “Among the play’s many important messages are confronting discrimination and injustice; giving voice to the most marginalized members of the LGBTQ+ community (BIPOC, Non-Binary, Bisexual, and Woman-Identified); practicing and championing (self) acceptance and empathy; rebuilding and triumphing after tragedy; exercising your rights; and modeling hope and resilience.”
The play’s themes seem to mirror the character of TCT.
The company is “a steadfast champion of gender, racial, and sexual equality on- and -off stage,” Stodard said. She added that the theater’s collaboration with fiscal and community partners has helped to make this production a reality. In particular, TCT has partnered with Dolphin Democrats, Human Rights Campaign, Our Fund, and the World AIDS Museum as fiscal partner. Meanwhile, the community sponsors are Arts Proud, Ignite Community Services, and Thou Art Woman.
“We are grateful and honored to partner with so many respected, progressive organizations,” Stodard said. “We are all vested in affecting change and getting out the vote.”
In addition, TCT is back shining a light on an historical milestone. Specifically, Nov. 3 marks the 100th anniversary of women nationwide first heading to the polls to cast a ballot for president. The 19th amendment, which officially granted suffrage to women in the U.S., was ratified in August 1920.
“Thinking Cap Theatre, a champion of gender equality since its founding in 2010, had planned since last year to commemorate the suffrage centennial,” reads a press release. “While TCT’s main stage season remains post-poned, its suffrage programming is a go!’
And so, in partnership with League of Women Voters, Broward County, TCT will present two suffrage-themed theatrical events: Meet the ‘Gettes, and A Baby, A Birdcage & The Ballot Box. TCT will stream the plays live, and, post-show, will host talkbacks with the cast and creative team.
Meet the ‘Gettes is scheduled for 2 p.m. EDT on Saturday, Oct. 24 and Sunday, Nov. 1. Get ready to rock with The ‘Gettes, The Suffragettes, in this unique, family-friendly theatrical performance. This playful tribute to the pioneers of the 19th amendment will (re)introduce audiences to ten leading figures of the women’s suffrage movement. With an original script that interweaves primary historical documents and contemporary insights, Thinking Cap’s team of artists use dramatic storytelling to bring to life Lucretia Mott, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth, Lucy Stone, Ida B. Wells Barnett, Mary Terrell, Alice Paul, and Cathy Chapman Catt. “Their deeply resonant messages will have audiences playing the air guitar in their honor,” according to a press release.
In addition, TCT will present A Baby, a Birdcage & The Ballot Box: A Play Reading of Suffragette Comedies. Performance times and dates are 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 27 and Monday, Nov. 2.
Make no mistake, America’s Suffragettes had a sense of humor. In this lineup, audiences will experience two vintage, suffrage propaganda plays: A Suffragette Baby (1912) by Alice C. Thompson and The Parrot Cage (1914) by Mary Shaw. Dubbed “parlor plays,” these short comedies were privately printed and originally intended for amateur performance at home in, you guessed it, people’s parlors. In the late 1970’s, while doing research at Radcliffe College, scholar Bettina Friedl rediscovered these long-forgotten treasures and compiled them into a special edition. “These dramatic gems humorously and pointedly tackle issues such as the work/life balance dilemma and the oppressiveness of socially-prescribed gender roles,” according to publicity material from TCT. “Viewers can expect to enjoy some laughs and marvel at both how far we’ve come and how (far) we’ve still to go in the journey for equal human rights.”
At a glance
TCT will present Laced at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 23-25, as well as Oct. 30-Nov. 1. The running time is 75 minutes plus a talkback after every performance. Virtual doors will open at 7 p.m. with a rotation of special guests before and after the show. TCT will stream all talkbacks live on Facebook. Ticket prices are $17.50 per individual, $25 per couple, and $50 per watch part of three and more. To make reservations, visit https://thinkingcaptheatre.eventbrite.com or call (954) 610-7263. Patrons will receive a link to the virtual event once they have made reservations.
Following Laced, TCT will stage Meet the ‘Gettes at 2 p.m. EDT on Oct. 24 and Nov. 1. The running time is one hour plus talkback.
Next up, after Meet the ‘Gettes, is A Baby, a Birdcage & The Ballot Box: A Play Reading of Suffragette Comedies. The show will run at 7:30 p.m. Oct. 27 and Nov. 2. Running time is one hour plus talkback. Tickets for Meet the ‘Gettes and A Baby… are $10 for individuals, $15 for couples, and $20 for watch parties of three or more. To make reservations and receive links, visit https://www.eventbrite.com/o/thinking-cap-theatre-17664553327.