by Tony Sanders
Here at Shine! Theatre, we’re renewing our commitment to bringing fresh theatre voices to the local theater scene. Having just produced the valley premiere of Sarah Ruhl’s brilliant work, In the Next Room, or the vibrator play, to rave reviews, we’ve returned with another valley premiere, Bare: a Pop Opera. This beautiful, poignant and ultimately timely piece follows a group of high school seniors at a Catholic boarding school facing issues of sexuality and personal identity. As they struggle to come to terms with who they are and who the world thinks they should be, they seek answers from their Church, their friends, and ultimately, from within themselves. Their search for answers will test friendships, relationships, and ultimately their faith. This powerful story is set to a rich, vibrant score that draws on many styles of contemporary music.
Jenny Myers who is wearing two hats, Musical Director and Director, had a profound introduction to this piece: I have loved Bare since I first heard bits and pieces of its score around 2005 which was brought to me by one of my voice students. This student was struggling with finding a way to come out to their parents and wanted to learn the song “See Me” and come out via that song. It was then I knew I had to direct this piece. I couldn’t get over the powerful story of love, Peter’s battle for self-acceptance, Jason’s troubled self-image, and uncertain decisions, all against the backdrop of a Catholic boarding school. It was way ahead of its time, and if it sounds or seems a bit like Spring Awakening, it is because it came first, predating Spring Awakening by several years. I wanted to create a world in school that showed the difficulties of the students trying to come to some understanding of their own blooming sexualities while constantly being shamed by the oppressive nature of Religion. I couldn’t have asked for a better, more talented cast to tell this story.
Understandably, Bare is a significant piece within the history of the LGBTQ theatre community. It shows the ‘bare’ humanity of the issues each individual faces, rather than sexuality being at the forefront of their struggles. LGBT Youth are three times more likely to commit suicide than their heterosexual equals, not because of their sexuality but the harassment, discrimination, and stress of anti-gay stigma they receive. Shine! has intentionally partnered with organizations that support LGBTQ equality to be able to offer resources after performances.
It is for those reasons, that we have chosen to close out this season with this amazing work. Our mission statement charges us with the responsibility to engage and enlighten our community through our craft. By giving voice to the voiceless while giving audience to playwrights of color or who are queer or female is a win-win. In short, we all deserve to be seen and heard.
Join us at St. James Episcopal Cathedral
4147 E. Dakota Ave
Fresno, CA 93726
Student/military $15 (must show Student ID at the door)
Show dates are as follows:
Friday, May 13th at 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 14th at 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
Thursday, May 19th at 7 p.m.
Friday, May 20th at 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 21st 2 p.m. and 7 p.m.
If you love local theatre, be sure to check out Mysteryrat’s Maze Podcast, which features mysteries read by local actors. You can find the podcast on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Google Play, and also on podbean.
Check out more theatre reviews & other local entertainment articles in our Arts & Entertainment section.