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Art, Inspiration, and Awkwardness at Your Story Onstage

I didn’t really know anything about Girlfriend before seeing the show at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Based off of the poster, my presumption was that Girlfriend narrated a “bromance” between two college-aged guys whose relationship was rooted in video games and Domino’s pizza. I figured that the mentioning of one’s girlfriend was somehow significant. But then I saw a Facebook post publicizing Center Theatre Group’s Your Story Onstage—an event with a performance plus writing workshops, which especially encouraged LGBT-identified folks to participate. As a queer artist and writer, this event seemed like a perfect opportunity to experience art and be inspired.

I invited my friend Mary because I know she’s a bit of a theatre geek. We entered the theatre, and I looked at the set and saw an arrangement that looked like a band in a garage, walls decorated in “DYKE” posters and stickers, and twinkly Christmas lights hanging from the ceiling. Excitement washed over me, but I kept in mind the things our facilitator, who had prepped everyone in the rehearsal room upstairs before the show, told us to look out for: New Year’s, art, and love.

The workshops, the writings, the set, the actors—everything about Your Story Onstage elicited a desire to narrate my stories through writing and visual arts.

Around the middle of the performance, the two main characters, Will and Mike, are hanging out, and a man yells, “faggots!” I jumped out of my seat when I heard that. I felt as though all three of our bodies were paralyzed. The characters and the plot felt relatable to me throughout the show, but the connection felt the strongest during this moment.

I loved Girlfriend! The awkwardness between lines and characters was so PERFECTLY AWKWARD that I couldn’t stop smiling. The moment in which Will rolls his sweater up to make himself look like a nun and sings KILLED me, and brought me back to LIFE! When (SPOILER ALERT!) Mike kisses Will after he tells him he doesn’t care what his friends think, EVERY cell in me SQUEALED like an adolescent at a favorite band’s concert.

Juan Silverio (right) participating in a workshop.

My favorite part of the post-performance workshops was the creative writing prompts. I had fun writing mine, but I really enjoyed hearing pieces from my peers. I felt a great sense of inspiration and appreciation from being in a room full of writers and artists.

This entire event hit EVERY nerve in me, both creative and personal. I was inspired from seeing the vulnerable, beautiful, and powerful art of Girlfriend. The workshops, the writings, the set, the actors—everything about Your Story Onstage elicited a desire to narrate my stories through writing and visual arts. I definitely look forward to seeing how my life experiences shape my creativity, as well as the art of others!

We asked two of the students who participated in our Your Story Onstage event on July 18, 2015 to tell us about their experience. Read the other student’s story here.

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