Not Just Another Coming Out Story: Playwright Maggie Keenan-Bolger on Queer History, Rent and Fun Home
By Whitney Chitwood
19 Jun 2014
As part of Playbill.com's 30 Days of Pride, playwright Maggie Keenan-Bolger talks with Playbill.com about her dedication to chronicling queer history through her work.
Maggie Keenan-Bolger, the middle of the Keenan-Bolger power siblings, may not have her praises as frequently sung as stage and screen stars Celia or Andrew, but her offerings to the theatre community should not go merely hummed — especially during Pride Month. Keenan-Bolger is diving into conversations on stage that many are too nervous to broach, and her numerous contributions to the LGBTQ community had me chomping at the bit for a chance to sit down with her and discuss inspirations aspirations, and expectations.
I'm lucky to catch Maggie on one of the few days she's in New York and actually has off (aside from a date with her brother to play "Just Dance" on Wii). After meeting in Madison Square Park, we slip into a nearby Starbucks where we find the last two seats available at the far corner of the highbar and quickly claim them.
The subjects of stigmatization, lack of representation and the general whitewashing of LGBTQ experiences come to the footlights in Keenan-Bolger's pieces, which include From the Inside, Out and Her Train of Thought. Somehow, though, such potentially volatile topics take shape in congenial ways. Her parents' philosophy may be the foundation for this tactic. "We are people in and of ourselves," she recited, "But there is also a much broader world out there. Doing good is making sure you are doing well, but also that you're not hurting other people in the process. That you are instead helping other people."
Keenan-Bolger makes good on her word by working with the LGBTQ youth at Green Chimneys. She's worked with the program to bring together the younger LGBTQ individuals with older members in the "Bridging the Gap" program; and most recently, she and the Green Chimneys folks cultivated and staged Not Just Another Coming Out Story.
An example of her progressive social commentary, the show was a marriage of both the homeless youth's personal accounts of "coming out" as LGBTQ and a fictional setting of "Sometime in the future... an organization built to 'bear witness' to the coming out experiences."
The impetus behind the Not Just Another Coming Out Story's creation, she said, "Cis-gender white guys coming out: Been there done that. And the idea that coming out is one experience that we have. As if we aren't doing it throughout our lives was a little ridiculous to me. Like this guy comes out once and magically everyone knows."
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