For the third time, a play written by a UT student will offer insight into the lives and struggles of gay men and will be brought to the stage.
“Ours” is an original play full of monologues told from the viewpoint of gay men written by Joseph Samuel Wright, a senior in the College Scholars Program.
“It was to give young gay men a communal piece of theater that they could all look to and commiserate with and find solidarity,” Wright said.
Wright said he was inspired by Eve Ensler’s “Vagina Monologues” and Ntozake Shange’s “For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf.”
“These were both monologue-type plays about a very specific minority group dealing with issues,” Wright said. “And I wanted to create that for gay men.”
He said he had the intention of creating something to which gay men could relate.
“Ours” was first brought to the stage and directed by Wright in November 2005 at the Wesley Center at UT. It was originally performed with five actors as five different characters discussing issues such as abuse, religion, love, body image, activism, sex, harassment and unity.
Wright described his experience as a playwright seeing his first full-length play produced as a truly amazing experience.
“Even if nothing ever happens, I can still say I wrote and produced and directed my own play,” Wright added.
This third production, 22-year old David Ratliffe, a resident of Maryville, Tenn., will take Wright’s original script and turn it into a one-man.
Ratliffe described his first experience with Wright’s play as something rather inspirational. He said when he saw the original production the script “spoke” to him.
“(Wright) totally captured almost all the feelings that I have had and put them in a show,” Ratliffe said. “And I couldn’t wait to thank him for finally saying the things I didn’t know how to say.”
Ratliffe first performed the one-man version in December 2006 at Maryville College. Due to lack of support with some of the technical aspects of the production, such as lighting, publicity and sound, he said he was not very pleased with the performance. However, the response he received was positive.
This time, the support he has will allow him to focus more on the performance.
“By doing the show I don’t want to change everyone’s opinions,” Ratliffe said. “I just want them to realize that gay people are just the same (as others). They have to deal with hurt and (emotions). (”Ours”) really shows that we are all the same. We all go through life.”
“I don’t know if Sam realizes how big of a show he has written,” Ratliffe said. “People really, really are in touch with it and really need to hear it. I don’t think he realizes what an amazing peace he has written.”
Ratliffe will be having the last scheduled performance of “Ours” Friday at 8 p.m. at the Capitol Theatre in downtown Maryville. Tickets are $5 at the door.