In just two seasons, Thinking Cap Theatre has gained a reputation in the region as a scrappy little company that’s not afraid to tackle controversial, even downright risky plays like Sarah Kane’s Cleansed.
And Artistic Director Nicole Stodard isn’t changing a thing as the company opens its third season at Fort Lauderdale’s Empire Stage next week with The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret.
Stodard admitted the title can be “a little intimidating or maybe even exciting,” with the term “genderf*ck” going back to at least 1979, when an article by Christopher Lonc entitled “Genderf*ck and Its Delights” appeared in the magazine Gay Sunshine.
She explained, “In recent decades the term has gained credibility through gender studies in academia. It’s a legitimate term for people who don’t fit cleanly into the pink and blue boxes that society has created.”
But audiences will find the play, written by Mariah MacCarthy, to be a very fun and funny piece of theater, Stodard says.
“The play explores and explodes stereotypes in a way that is mostly disarming,” she explained, noting part of the company’s mission statement includes addressing issues related to gender and identity.
With a cast of nine actors, the show is her largest production to date and includes several large ensemble dance numbers that proved challenging in the intimate Empire Stage space Thinking Cap has shared with several other small companies.
“The nice thing about working in a space on an ongoing basis — especially a small space — is that it makes some of the decisions for you. Our choreographers had to make things work,” said Stodard.
Chaz Collins drew on the cabaret theme for her set design, even though the show is not a cabaret in the original sense.
Stodard also encourages audiences to look for a breakout performance by Noah Levine as Taylor, the “MC” of the show. Levine’s character is present throughout most of the play, and while he is incredibly talented, she promises “you won’t miss him … for reasons other than just his talent.”
Dressed in colorful, androgynous costumes, he serves as the linchpin for MacCarthy’s exercise in “genderf*cking” the audience. Stodard described his character as “a young David Bowie meets Shane from The L Word.”
Above all, Stodard praised MacCarthy’s play as a thought-provoking work that is “not so high brow that people can’t connect. Art cannot exist in a vacuum. It’s entertaining and smart and meaningful and so now in 2012.”
If you go
The All-American Genderf*ck Cabaret
Sept. 27 – Oct. 13, nights vary, 8 p.m.
Thinking Cap Theatre at Empire Stage
1140 N. Flagler Dr., Fort Lauderdale
Tickets $25 at ThinkingCapTheatre.com or call 954-678-1496