The Q Collective’s Coming Out Play Festival Brings Nine Incredible LGBTQ Stories to the Stage

 In Culture, Event

For individuals in the LGBTQ community, coming out is one of the most pivotal moments in their lives, and, for many, it is still one of the most terrifying. The Q Collective’s Coming Out Play Festival, now in its second year, shines a spotlight on the emotions—the fear, the hope and the relief—that rise up when one is ready to finally speak their truth.

Launched in 2018 by founder and artistic director Sean Michael, The Q Collective explores the spectrum of gender, sexuality and romantic orientation through the performing arts.

“I spent a lot of time in theatre, and I noticed around St. Louis that while theatre focused on queer people was happening, it was happening infrequently,” says Michael. “As a gay man, I thought it would be really awesome to see my story more than just during Pride Month or during National Coming Out Month. That’s what led me to start the company with the goal of doing The Coming Out Play Festival as an annual event.”

The Q Collective’s Coming Out Play Festival Brings Nine Incredible LGBTQ Stories to the Stage

Over the past year, The Q Collective has expanded by staging TRANSLUMINATE, a short-play festival celebrating transgender, agender, non-binary, genderqueer and genderfluid artists, as well as the Broadway hit “Hedwig and the Angry Inch.” But it’s The Coming Out Play Festival that has already garnered the company international acclaim in just a few short months.

This year, Michael and his team sifted through 136 submissions from 106 playwrights in three countries, up from 66 submissions last year, to land on nine 15-minute pieces that run the gamut from comedy to drama, with even a little folk operetta thrown in.

For example, Michael Pisaturo’s “Catching Lemons,” follows Matthew as he decides whether or not to share his secret with his grandmother before her growing dementia takes hold. In “Baby Dyke Whisperer” writer Amber Palmer explores the complicated history of the term as the audience joins Betty on her first date with a woman. And in the musical “That Perfect Kiss” from local lyricist-composer team Lee Ehmke and Holly Barber, the relationship between Prince Charming and Cinderella heads off in unexpected directions.

While the themes of all nine plays are diverse, each one centers on the commonality of the coming out experience and the quest for unconditional love and acceptance from family and friends.

“Last year we had one woman in the audience who grew up on the south side of Chicago in a pretty anti-LGBTQ family. She told us, ‘I wanted to come and see the show because, although it sounds funny, I didn’t know everyone had the same worries about coming out.’ And it’s true—we all experience the same fears and insecurities, but we also experience the same joy. Whether we’re gay or lesbian or bisexual is the only difference.”

The 2019 Coming Out Festival takes place at The Monocle in The Grove, with performances at 7 p.m. Oct. 17-19 and at 4 p.m. Oct. 19-20. Tickets are $20 in advance or $25 at the door. For a full list of performances or to purchase tickets, visit theqcollective.theater.

Featured image from TRANSLUMINATE festival courtesy of Hollybright Photography.

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