'Our Kiki: A Gay Farce' brings normalcy to gay politics at ASU Mainstage

The 2012 Scissor Sisters banger "Let's Have A Kiki" tells of trying to have a gay old time when the world wants to rain on your pride parade. "A Kiki is a party for calming all your nerves," the song said, advising partygoers to "dive, turn, work."

Theater and marketing alum Seth Tucker wrote "Our Kiki: A Gay Farce" in a political climate that affected gays and lesbians more than just party-pooping. The play is about two gay men, Matt and Phil, unable to stay in the U.S. together because Matt, who is from Finland, cannot obtain a green card.

Green cards in gay marriages were hard to come by when the Defense of Marriage Act was the law of the land. 

"By the time I had put the first production of 'Our Kiki' up, the repeal (of DOMA) had just happened," Tucker said.  "So, already, my play is a period piece, almost.  It has to be set in a specific time because it's not like that anymore."

Tucker said that the perspective of binational gay marriage was not told, however, and that it's important to share this message. Some of the information, and realism, in the play came from the daily experiences that Tucker said surrounded him at work and in his life.

"A lot of gay and binational couples were being separated, and even though the person was a citizen, they couldn't keep them safe and couldn't protect them, which should have been their right to protect the person that they love and keep them in the country," Tucker said. 

The classical farce presents a highly ridiculous or hyperbolic situation to the delight of hysterical audiences. The staging's structure played well with Tucker's writing style. 

"I am a really analytical writer, so I like to put it together like a puzzle, and for a farce, they work that way," he said. "Here's really only one answer a lot of the times, or there's only one answer that really will fit all of the pieces fit together."

The structure begins as a hyperbole then settles into the weighty reality of the oppression of what some call a human right: marriage. 

"... If you read the synopsis you might think it's going to be a family drama of some kind but ... I wanted to approach it from a really humorous side," Tucker explained. "Because when you look at it, you're like, 'This is really funny,' and then afterwards you're like, 'That is sad, that they had to go through that and that was a really awful time for them...'"

Theater alumnus Jacob Hylton directed this play, after consideration by administration and previous involvement assistant directing an ASU Mainstage show "In the Penal Colony." 

Read coverage of Mainstage's "romeo&juliet/VOID" from last semester

Casting five straight men and one straight woman was part of the process in this play specifically, but Hylton hopes that audiences will still really believe that it presents a slice of reality.

"Although it is written as a farce, I wanted to get down to the human element and present as much realism as possible," he said.  

Hylton tried to present characters as real people that you or I may know, so as to make the message go further and get to the reality that gay and straight people aren't at all that different. 

"You dance in your underwear behind closed doors just as much as I do or anybody else does," he said. 

Instead of playing on the idea of a theatrical kiki with homosexual flamboyance dripping from the stage, Hylton decided to present both sides of the coin — both stereotype and realism — in order to present the reality of the political climate.

"Starting the show off, presenting stereotypes that audiences would recognize, because I think that no matter what, everybody walks in with an idea of what 'the gay is,' but then from there really trying to break down the stereotypes as much as possible," he said.  

Theater and math senior Zach Ragatz took a break from a Shakespeare-heavy year to work with Hylton again as a senior (he also worked with Hylton as a freshman). Ragatz plays Phil, a gay character who happens to be flamboyant.  

"Reading the script was really interesting just because the character Phil was so similar to me anyways," Ragatz said. "Honestly, it's just me as a gay person. The show references a number of musicals throughout, and every single musical I did in high school is referenced in the play."

Trying to bring the human feel on the heels of a farce was hard for Ragatz, but one that fit the structure of a farce and harsh reality. Ragatz also expressed potential trickery that the play will pull on the audiences.

"Setting up this situation and this whole setting where audiences will immediately feel like they understand what's going on, but as the play develops understand that there's a lot more to each of these characters that they see on stage" he said. "Though they are characters, they are full human beings as well."

Finally, Ragatz, after all the hard work, thinks the play will show the human element over the humorous one. 

"It takes time and understanding to really learn a person. As we start peeling away the layers of these characters, you start to see more and more of who they are and what makes them human. 

Showtimes are April 17 through 26 at 7:30 p.m., with matinee shows at 2 p.m. on April 19 and 26. Tickets are $8 for students. The play will be staged at the Lyceum Theatre on 901 S Forest Mall. 

Have a kiki with the reporter, just email pnorthfe@asu.edu or follow @peternorthfelt on Twitter. 

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