Island City Stage, the LGBT-centric theater company in Wilton Manors, will open its 10th anniversary season in October with a revival of its first production, “The Twentieth Century Way” by Tom Jacobson.
The period drama that launched the company’s award-winning run in 2012 recounts the true story of two actors who hired themselves out to the Long Beach Police Department in 1914 to entrap "social vagrants.”
Thirty-one men were arrested and the ensuing scandal led to an ordinance against “oral sodomy” in California. Founding Artistic Director Andy Rogow noted that oral sex became more common following the invention of the zipper.
“That’s what made it the ‘Twentieth Century Way,’” he said, adding that Island City has never remounted a production.
“It represents everything the company is about — the history of the LGBT community, the story has relevance and it’s theatrical and entertaining. There are two great acting roles.”
Multiple Carbonell Award-winner Clay Cartland reprises his role as “Warren,” and newcomer Alfonso Vieites debuts as “Brown.” Tony-nominated director Michael Leeds is once again at the helm.
“It’s going to be richer and deeper than the first time,” Rogow said. “First, we’re in a much bigger space [than Empire Stage, the company’s former home]. Michael Leeds has more room to be creative with the production and the design. Clay was new to the community … and he’s more experienced and polished.”
The policing issues the play broaches are just as relevant today as they were a decade or even a century ago. Prior to the opening, the company will host a free community forum, “Law Enforcement and the LGBT+ Community — Where are we today?” on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 6 p.m.
Rogow will moderate a panel discussion with Lt. Paul Auerbach of Broward Sheriff’s Office, Asst. Chief of Police Darren Brodsky of Wilton Manors Police Department, Capt. Michael Dodson of Fort Lauderdale Police Department, FAU Professor Emeritus and author Fred Fejes, Ph.D. and trans advocate Kat Rio.
“We felt that we needed to create programs that weren’t necessarily about selling tickets, but that encouraged community discussion. We have to do more than plays, especially if we’re going to attract a broader audience,” Rogow said.
The panel will explore issues of policing and the evolving relationship between law enforcement and the LGBT community, especially as more attention has focused on transgender and queer people of color. The forum is supported by Equality Florida and the GLBX Council of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce.
“We hope that members of the community who might never come to a play might participate,” Rogow said. “This is an important conversation for all of us to have.”
Island City Stage, 2304 N. Dixie Hwy. in Wilton Manors, hosts “Law Enforcement and the LGBT+ Community — Where are we today?” on Tuesday, Sept. 14 at 6 p.m. Admission is free. “The Twentieth Century Way” runs Oct. 1 – 31. Tickets are $35 at IslandCityStage.org.