Queer Quills: Preserving history

Queer Quills: Preserving history

If you live in the Orlando area and are unfamiliar with the names Margaret Nolan and Scottie Campbell, you either just moved here or do not see much local theater. Between the two, they have written, produced, directed and acted in more local productions than the average American sees in a lifetime.

QueerQuill_285051484.jpgWhether it’s under the banner of Nolan’s Kangagirl Productions or Campbells’ Heidi Dog Productions, this out, proud and talented duo have entertained the Central Florida, and occasionally New York, theatergoing masses for more than two decades. Together or separately they have been involved in such productions as A Midnight Snack with Tom & Vincent, Lilly and Lila’s Lovely Lesbian Hour, Coming In, Who You Is Anyway, Welcome to Hell, Pieface! The Adventures of Anita Bryant and The Orlando Youth Alliance’s Suitcase of Memories and High School Queerbook.

They two teamed up once again in 2009 to launch the Queer Quills play reading series with the goal in mind to showcase plays that reflect the LGBT journey through live theater.

“I think it’s important that we not forget the journey we are taking as a gay community and how we have been depicted and how we have allowed ourselves to be depicted in plays and musicals,” says Campbell. “It is an important part of that journey and should be remembered and passed along to gay youth.”

With Queer Quills, Nolan and Campbell also saw an opportunity to present plays that weren’t likely to be produced in the Central Florida area or that hadn’t been seen in a while. Luckily, tackling material that might be considered too risky is a challenge that these two have never shied from.

“Personally, I feel it’s also extremely important and valuable to present these works, particularly the ‘classics,’ to a younger audience,” says Nolan. “Then they can understand how important the work is as it fits into not only gay history but also in theatre and literature.”

The first two readings were Air by Josh Levine and Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour, which were done as benefits for Orlando’s Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Community Center. The Children’s Hour was produced in conjunction with Rollins College with involvement from students, teachers and alumni alike. The discussion after the reading was so robust that the decision was made to move the series to an actual theatre closer to the school’s campus in Winter Park. The proceeds from future readings will now go to benefit SPECTRUM, the LGBT student organization at Rollins.

Beginning with the Feb. 7 reading of Mae West’s controversial play The Drag, to be directed by Christine Robison, the series will premiere at the Breakthrough Theatre on Fairbanks Avenue in Winter Park. In April the series will present a reading of Spring’s Awakening by Frank Wedekind that will be directed by Jeremy Seghers. This is the play that served as the basis for the recent hit Broadway musical Spring Awakening, the national tour of which is coming to Orlando’s Bob Carr in May.

The Quills team is currently in talks with the organizers of Gay Days about bringing the reading of local playwright and Rollins alum John Ryan’s Christopher Street to the annual event’s official host hotel in June.

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