- Liz Whittaker
An Other Theater Co.: Safe
Some might find An Other Theater Co.'s production of local playwright Chelsea Hickman's play Safe provocative and daringly defiant, at least as far ascurrent religious dogma is concerned. It centers on the relationship between two devout Mormons who meet, develop feelings for one another, then find themselves navigating the divide between the expectations of others, their relationship with God and the need to be true to themselves and who they really are.
"It needed to be written for myself," Hickman explains in a news release. "And then as I kept working on it over many years, I realized that ... it was for other people who may have had the same questions as I do."
Director and company member Liz Whittaker, a self-described "queer post-Mormon" herself, echoed Hickman's sentiments. "We really wanted to explore the queer Mormon experience with honesty and compassion," she says. "The purpose isn't to tear down any religion, but to build empathy."
In effect, that's always been the Provo-based company's intent. Now in its third season, An Other Theater's mission focuses on issues of concern to women, the LGBTQ community and those alienated and ignored by mainstream theater. The company is also sensitive to the way intimate encounters and delicate situations are treated in rehearsal and performance. As a result, the company can be credited with utilizing an "intimacy choreographer" to ensure ample respect for audiences and actors alike. Consider that a safety net for Safe that underscores it efforts. (Lee Zimmerman)
Safe @ An Other Theater Co., 1200 Towne Centre Blvd. , Provo, Jan. 24-Feb. 15, dates and times vary, $12-$17, anothertheater.org
- Stephen Brown
Kinky Beast Cabaret
Kinks are generally a hush-hush topic here in the Beehive State, but there are folks trying to change that narrative. Fest Salt Lake Stages, sponsored by Utah Leather Pride and Black Garter, brings SLC an evening of proud kinks, with artists, performers and designs from the local kink scene. Timed to correspond with Sundance Film Festival activity also taking place at the Rose Wagner Center, it's the first of two weekends of events, including a photo installation and SB Dance's Sleeping Beauty.
This celebration of fur, leather and beyond is a model of how to express what you want and how to get it with a consensual partner. Stephen Brown—self-described"Maestro of Nuthin' and director-lead bottlewasher at SB Dance"—got his inspiration for the cabaret from the 1997 film Sick: The Life and Death of Bob Flanagan, Supermasochist. He was interested in the unusual expressions of beauty portrayed.
"What I find fascinating is a common and unfounded idea that kinky people are threatening and dangerous," Brown says. "Nothing could be further from the truth." He believes that at the end of the night, the audience will know that kinks are about communicating and giving consent. "Kinky Beast Cabaret is an opportunity for kink-ers of all stripes—fur types, rubbers, leathers and dominations—to get together and celebrate. At the same time, they're inviting others into their world to observe and understand."
A cash bar is available, and one drink is included with your ticket. Brown invites all to "come outta your vanilla closet and party with kinky peeps." (Kara Rhodes)
Kinky Beast Cabaret @ Rose Wagner Center, 138 W. 300 South, 801-355-2787, Jan. 24, 9 p.m., $16, 21+, feststages.sbdance.com
- Jennifer Percival
Special Olympics Utah Polar Plunge
If you're going to be cold for the next few months, you might as well get cold for a good cause. Special Olympics Utah hosts the 2020 Salt Lake Polar Plunge to help raise funds to support the organization's sports, competitions and programs. The organization invites those interested to attend a party that culminates with everyone jumping into a pool chilled to 32 degrees.
Jennifer Percival, program assistant for Special Olympics Utah, says the Polar Plunge is not only a great source to fundraise for the coming year, but helps bring people from various communities together. "Having a strong community is invaluable, no matter who you are," Percival says.
Attendees are encouraged to wear costumes. In previous years, people have dived as Superman, Batman, Scooby-Doo and Popeye.
Participants must pay a $10 registration fee. After this initial fee, everyone must either pay or raise an additional $20 or $40 to participate. This also applies to those who are plunging with a team. Those who register at the event are asked to pay the full $30-$50. Special Olympics Utah aims to raise at least $10,000.
If you'd rather not be cold but still want to participate, you can pay the donation and register as "Too Chicken." Percival says it's fun to watch people's reactions as they hit the water. The event starts with a pre-plunge Party at 9 a.m., with the actual plunge taking place at 10 a.m. (Kylee Ehmann)
Special Olympics Utah Polar Plunge @ Salt Lake Sheraton Downtown, 150 W. 500 South, 801-363-1111, Jan. 25, 9 a.m., $20-$50, sout.org
- Robyn Von Swank
Several descriptions come to mind when you mention comedian Cameron Esposito. She's brash, she's irreverent and she's not about to take any guff from anyone when it comes to being gay. Indeed, she wears her sexuality on her sleeve. When a guy in the audience once pointed out the obvious—"You look like a woman who doesn't sleep with men"—she rebuffed him by replying, "You can't go up to a black person and say, 'I bet you don't burn in the sun. Natural sunscreen.'"
Over the past dozen years or so, Esposito has made it a point to advocate for the LGBT community, using humor to educate her audiences about what it means to be a lesbian in today's nominally straight society. In addition to regular appearances on television's late-night talk show circuit, she starred in a show on the Starz network tellingly titled Take My Wife, created a podcast called Queery, partnered with BuzzFeed for a series of videos called "Ask a Lesbian," appeared in films and at festivals, and made several albums that spotlight her decidedly unapologetic attitude.
Esposito is consistently self-effacing as well. She proudly proclaims the fact that she boasts a hairstyle akin to a lopsided side mullet. She talks about being forced to wear an eyepatch for eight years because she was a cross-eyed child. She stressed the need to find an imperfect sperm donor so that when her baby screws up, she and her partner needn't take the blame.
Indeed, we owe her a debt of gratitude. It's nice to know that no matter what our sexual orientation, we're all screwed up in our own ways. (LZ)
Cameron Esposito @ Wiseguys SLC, 194 S. 400 West, 801-532-5233, Jan. 27, 7 p.m. $20, 21+, wiseguyscomedy.com