“it gets better” – The Theater Project

By April 13, 2012The WIN Column

IT GETS BETTER On Stage - Jimmy Nguyen

IT GETS BETTER On Stage: Donate to the It Gets Better Project by April 30, 2012

Anti-LGBT Bullying Campaign Developed Into Touring Theater Work

Take the power of the online It Gets Better Project to help LGBT youth, and translate it onto a theater stage.  That’s the vision of a new It Gets Better theater project which will blend music, theater and multimedia into a live stage production that tackles one of the key issues for the millennial generation:  bullying.

I am thrilled to be helping co-produce this project, which is a collaboration of the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles, the It Gets Better Project, and Speak Theater Arts.  But to bring this vision to reality, we need monetary contributions now to meet our April 30 fundraising campaign goal on Kickstarter.com.

The It Gets Better Project began in September 2010 when syndicated columnist and author Dan Savage created a YouTube video with his partner Terry Miller in response to a number of LGBT youth taking their own lives. They wanted to create a personal way for supporters everywhere to give young people hope for future happiness.  Less than 18 months later, the project has turned into a worldwide movement, inspiring more than 30,000 user-created videos viewed more than 40 million times.

The inspiration for the new live stage work, It Gets Better, began with an It Gets Better Project video submission by the Gay Men’s Chorus of Los Angeles. On October 24, 2010 a large group of Chorus members gathered with their friends and family at Immanuel Presbyterian Church to record a live version of Cyndi Lauper’s song True Colors.  The response from around the world was incredible (including around 700,000 views to date) – prompting the Chorus leadership to reach out to folks at the It Gets Better Project to explore more options for bringing together the work of our organizations. From those discussions, the It Gets Better theater work was birthed.

We have a great team assembled.  Liesel Reinhart from Speak Theater Arts will lead the creative team.  It Gets Better engagements will be managed exclusively by David Lieberman Artists Management.  Music development will be coordinated by platinum-selling recording artist Morten Kier and supervised by GMCLA Artistic Director E. Jason ArmstrongKen Klawitter of Speak Theater Arts is assisting with script development.  Seth Levy is coordinating for the It Gets Better Project. GMCLA Interim Executive Director, Chris Verdugo, is overseeing the project for GMCLA.  And I get to help co-produce and provide some pro bono legal services.

Once the show is developed, the touring company for the cast will include 6 performers, a musical director, and a tour/technical director. The show will frankly explore what the promise of “better” implies for LGBT youth, including relationships, sexuality, and the possibility of marriage and families.   Bullying – in all its iterations – will be tackled in an onslaught of music, movement and multimedia.  Performers will reflect on the pain of losing young people to suicide and relate stories of their own darkest moments and more importantly, their greatest triumphs.

We plan to take the show out on a U.S. national tour, with a focus on communities where the It Gets Better message is most needed).  But this will be more than just a show.  At each tour stop, performances will be presented in tandem with a weeklong series of community outreach activities to strengthen local LGBT support networks.  This will include extensive high school outreach and performance work with a local community choir.  The production launches for the 2012-13 season with performances already booked in Iowa, Pennsylvania and Washington.

And the show will create revenue to support even more great work.  Proceeds from performances will benefit the It Gets Better Project and GMCLA’s Alive Music Project.  The Alive Music Project is in-school outreach program in the Greater Los Angeles area whose mission is to open hearts, change minds and end bullying through the universal language of music.

But before the show can hit the road, GMCLA needs to raise $75,000 to fund development of the project. It launched a campaign on Kickstarter.com, and only has until April 30 to meet that funding goal.  We are asking the public to support development of this show and its vital message by donating money though Kickstarter.com.  All contributions are tax deductible (for U.S. donors).  Click here for more information about the Kickstarter campaign and to contribute:  http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/728876707/it-gets-better-the-musical-theater-project.

The It Gets Better theater project will help let LGBT youth know that life indeed gets better.  I, for one, can’t wait to see that message come alive through the power of music and theater.