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Queer Play: The Strive to Properly Depict LGBTQ Characters

ReconFIGUREd’s diverse and talented cast satirizes society’s every judgmental attitude and set expectations of vanity on women and trans persons. PHOTO/ Lillian Cole

By M.A. Rahman

Brooklyn College’s LGBTQ Resource Center hosted the Queer Play “ReconFIGUREd” in sponsorship with the Honest Accomplice Theatre (HAT) examining body identity.

The local theatre guild presented the original play concerning the expectations, conformities and other tropes queer and transgender persons face in “ReconFIGUREd” at the Brooklyn College Student Center.

The product of the Brooklyn-based nonprofit group dedicated to raising issues of sexuality and femininity to the spotlight, HAT, and in sponsorship of a few organizations including the Brooklyn Arts Council, The Drama League, and the Alliance of Resident Theatres, “ReconFIGUREd” has been the result of a long time anticipated conglomerated effort.

“We do primarily devised theatre based around issues seen as shameful or one dimensional, or portrayed in the media in some ways that are accompanying and often cis woman and trans people wish to see elaborated on,” spoke Rachel Sullivan one of HAT’s co-founders at the opening up the first act.

Emphasizing the sheer neglect, hostility and often indifference members of the trans community faced with close friends and family in relation to their personal qualms, Sullivan along with co-writer Maggie Keenan-Bolger had longed to wanted to showcase these issues to the public light such the deliberate misuse of a trans person’s preferred pronoun even amongst more liberal circles.

According to them, in 2015, HAT distributed a survey taken by 1,200 people and found that the ‘body’ was the highest among the topics people wanted to see explored on stage.

The result was “ReconFIGUREd,” a play that among various other topics, explores the issue as “popular culture examines and often parades female and trans bodies as objects of desire or fetish” according to the Playbill noting the consequence to be that it “denies female and trans people their very existence as thinking and feeling beings.”

The play itself comprised of a mix between a female and trans cast members, a choice befitting of the topic of concern that it strove to depict.

“I’ve watched this play three times already, it’s excellent,” said Charley Ryals, a member of the LGBTQ community at the Brooklyn College viewing, believing that the play would resonate with anyone regardless of the sexual or gender preference.

“I’ve been wanting HAT to come to Brooklyn for such a long time now,” said one anonymous BC student, hoping for more LGBT allied organizations like HAT to return to campus for event like this.

The story began somber and with decidedly grim tone showing how the social problems plaguing a LGBT teenager translated gradually into psychological one’s as the occasional neglect for her wellbeing, recognition of her personal choices, and preferences even among her seemingly open-minded family still spurred a sense of ostracism.  

As the play went on, characters explored their own inner struggles, as issues of fat shaming, ageist attitudes, beauty standards, corporate influence along with many others went on to be explored.

For the audience, a quiet and respectful emptiness was given by them, many members of BC’s own LGBT community, whom watched many of their own issues not fully well understood by people even close them be finally showcased before them.

The play was not all gloomy, comedic moment sparked throughout the play, not of which coming at the expense of a given person’s attributes or traits.

At its closing, Professor David McKay, Director of the BC LGBTQ Resource Center remarked on his satisfaction of the event and the recognition of lingering issues that for many is foreign as it gains exposure to a greater audience and continues to do so as per HAT’s mission.

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