Image courtesy of Evolve Theatre.
A brand new theatre company whose mission is to inspire positive social change will make its debut at the Long Beach Playhouse with Choosing Us*, a play that addresses a tragedy within the transgender community, on Friday, March 18.
Evolve Theatre, founded by Ryan Weible and Kenny Allen, aims to mix art with activism. The company’s first production was a keynote performance used to engage teens in a dialogue about peer pressure at the Teens Tackle Tobacco, Alcohol and Drug Abuse conference last year.
While pioneering their own methods in reaching out to the community and addressing social issues at a local level, Evolve Theatre draws inspiration from Los Angeles-based Teatro Jornalero Sin Fronteras, Cornerstone Theatre Company and San Francisco Mime Troupe.
Choosing Us* was inspired by the suicide of transgender teenager Leelah Alcorn in December 2014. In her suicide letter she posted online, Alcorn asked her readers to “fix society.” Choosing Us* is Evolve Theatre’s response to the tragedy, considering that transgender people remain 10 times more likely to commit suicide and account for 40 percent of all LGBT hate murders in the US, according to the release.
A diverse cast of transgender and cisgender actors from Long Beach and its neighboring communities compose the cast of Choosing Us*. Two of the three playwrights, Lino Martinez and Rain Valdez, were asked to play the two leads, to explore the journey of a person in transition where family, gender and identity are more complex than those of us attempting to understand might assume.
"We didn’t expect it to turn out this way, but having the writers play the characters that they had written based loosely on their own life experiences makes this production especially meaningful and impactful," said the play's director Weible, in a statement.
Long Beach Playhouse is located at 5021 East Anaheim Street.