Noted lesbian playwright Carolyn Gage will raise a joyful noise onstage at Compass Center in Lake Worth with her Lesbian Tent Revival show, in a one-night-only performance on Jan. 16.
The topic of Gage’s divinely inspired lesbocentric sermon will be “The Seven Deadly Sins and How to Get More of Them in Your Life.” During her tent revival performance, Gage becomes “Sister Carolyn of the Sacred Synapse.”
Gage is well-known for her writings and appearances created for specifically lesbian audiences.
“As a lesbian I write about myself, my history, culture and community,” Gage said. “The added bonus is that the subject of our lives has been taboo for so long, it’s a very rich and largely unexplored territory!”
Gage is the author of more than 65 plays, including “The Second Coming of Joan of Arc and Harriet Tubman Visits a Therapist” (which has been produced in Palm Beach County by Empty Closet Women’s Theater, starring Gwen Artiaga and Melinda Jackson).
Her work includes musicals, one-acts, one-woman shows and dramas. She often tours in her own shows, offers lectures and workshops on lesbian culture and history, and has won numerous awards. She is also the author of a dozen books and many essays. But there is nothing academic about Gage’s Lesbian Tent Revival — it’s a “hands-on” experience.
The Lesbian Tent Revival has been entertaining lesbians around the country, who have enthusiastically called the experience uplifting, eye opening, liberating, powerful, insightful, thought-provoking, edifying, inspiring, awesome, brilliantly funny, and not-to-be-missed — an evening of radical lesbian celebration and “synaptic excitement.”
The Lesbian Tent Revival is a combination of many things, and what ties it all together is hilarity.
“The goal of the Revival is, well, to revive us all, bringing us back to our pride, our creativity, our life-loving connections with each other, and our ecstatic bliss in being women-loving women,” Gage said. “Hallelujah!”
Gage’s appearance in Lake Worth is sponsored by BLAST (Bi, Lesbian and Straight Together) . The BLAST community now has more than 2,100 members. (See www.meetup.com/BLASTwpb)
The group’s founder/director, Toni Armstrong Jr., has long admired Gage’s theatrical works.
“There’s no one like Carolyn Gage,” Armstrong said. “During these years when much energy has been directed toward LGBT rights and mainstream acceptance – including the successful fight for marriage equality – she has continued to focus radical creative thought on lesbian and/or feminist issues.
“Harriet Tubman Visits a Therapist,” for example, is a brilliant intersectional take on racism, the ways women are told to ‘go along to get along,’ and the agendas people have for trying to make powerful women step down. Her work is one of a kind, and we’re thrilled she’s bringing her Tent Revival to Palm Beach County.”
The spirited BLAST Tent Revival Choir, the “Seven Deadly Sin-gers,” will lend their voices to the merriment and mayhem of the Lake Worth event. Led by Corrinne Farner, the singers will provide backup for Gage’s sermon, using familiar tunes with lyrics reworked to bolster the fervor of Sister Carolyn’s evangelical lesbianism.
One of the difficulties of building a shared lesbian culture, Gage observes, is “really paying attention to being inclusive. Whose voices get heard? Who is at the table? And more to the point, what are all those hidden, cultural, and institutional imbalances that lie behind exclusion?
“Fortunately, we lesbians tend to be a contentious bunch,” she said. “After all, we didn’t get to be lesbians by doing what we were told. We notice things and we speak out. It’s my experience that we lesbians are fierce and vigilant about social justice. The trick is learning to celebrate our confrontational skills in all their magnificence.”
Although times are changing, lesbian visibility in the mainstream still lags wildly behind that of gay men, notes Gage.
“This is still patriarchy, and though we may all be queer, some of us are women. It is still imperative for lesbians to take responsibility for our own cultural representations. Separatism does not seem like a scary word to me. Every marginalized population operates with varying degrees of separation from the dominant culture. It’s how we hold onto our identity. For me, it creates the space where I can think with clarity about what best serves my interests and those of my community.”
A lesbian religious experience, however satirical and fun, is a serious challenge to the way patriarchy protects its own interests.
“Women who reserve their primary intimacy for other women threaten an empire of unpaid female labor in male-dominated cultures,” Gage said. “And women who do not conform to gender norms call into immediate question the assumptions and entitlements of male supremacy. Just more reasons for celebrating ourselves!”
At Gage’s Lesbian Tent Revival, we can look forward to a vivid, participatory experience of the vitality and sheer joy of lesbians gathering together to celebrate our fine selves and to feel the spirit among us.
Gage and BLAST invite you to join the congregation. Hallelujah, indeed!
For ticket information and other details about the January 16 show: http://bit.ly/1Ot7hy0.