A gay play with no gay guys?
INTAR Theatre, one of the oldest Latinx theater companies in the U.S., and Radio Drama Network are currently presenting the world premiere of J. Julian Christopher’s Bundle of Sticks, a play about gay men staged with a feminine twist.
In the play “gay men from across the globe attend gay conversion therapy called The Sticks in the underground city of Coober Pedy, Australia,” according to an official synopsis. “When they arrive they are not only challenged by Otto, their toxically masculine group leader, but also by the rainbow serpent responsible for the protection of water and erections. The Sticks is real but what it promises is not.”
“Bundle of Sticks is the examination of how society’s ideas of gender roles play into homophobia,” Christopher tells NewNowNext. “I find that homophobia has deep roots in misogyny. Gay men who present more feminine are perceived as weak, inherently perpetuating the notion that women are weak… so I began to play with these ideas when writing this play.”
“Conversion therapy is usually focused on making gay men more ’macho,'” the queer Puerto Rican and Dominican playwright continues. “Sexuality and gender are completely two separate things, but society seems to think they are intertwined. That fascinated me, so I wrote this play to showcase the absurdity of these uninformed ideas.”
The off-Broadway cast of Bundle of Sticks includes Lucille Duncan, Fleece, Laura Jordan, Melissa Navia, Zo Tipp, and Hope Ward, none of whom identify as cisgender males.
“Bundle of Sticks’ characters are gay men. We have cast it without cis male actors. We hope the play will reveal why,” says director Lou Moreno in a statement. “J. Julian Christopher is an excellent example of dreaming and writing. His plays are intrinsically Latine but more importantly the stories he tells are big, unapologetically theatrical and tell an authentic human story that is accessible to all of our audience members.”
Last summer INTAR presented Christopher’s play Julio Down by the Schoolyard, which was inspired by the 1990 Jackson Heights murder of Julio Rivera, the first anti-gay hate crime tried in New York.
His other plays include Man Boobs, Nico was a Fashion Model, Animals Commit Suicide, and Locusts Have No King.
Bundle of Sticks runs through March 22 at INTAR Theatre in New York.