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Coming out is focus of Barley Sheaf benefit show

01/16/2018 10:56AM ● Published by J. Chambless

From left: Doug Roberts as Patrick, Christine Robinson as Kate, and Allie Beaver as Miranda in 'Love-Nothing.'

Every January, the Barley Sheaf Players produce a play that highlights a social or cultural issue, then donate the proceeds from the show to a local charity.

This year, in keeping with the theme of reviving shows they have done in the past for their 50th season, Barley Sheaf has chosen to stage a revival of their 2010 Benefit Show, “Love-Nothing.” The original play is written and directed by longtime Barley Sheaf member, Andrea Grinwis.

“Love-Nothing” examines the ideals of faith, hope and love as foundations for three different coming-out tales: Patrick fights to hold tight to a friend whose affection for him is suddenly conditional; Calvin longs to piece together his wife’s broken heart when his long-hidden secret shakes their marriage; and Abby struggles to hang on to the past while she supports the future of her transgender son.

Barley Sheaf has chosen to donate all of the proceeds from the show to Valley Youth House’s Pride Program. Pride provides housing and supportive services for homeless lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth who have been turned away from their own homes.

Grinwis wrote “Love-Nothing” several years ago. The show initially came about as a way to tell the stories of some teens that she had met through an LGBTQ youth group that some of her friends were facilitating. She wanted to help raise money for the group, and as an avid writer and experienced director, she came up with the idea to write a play about their experiences and donate the money earned from the play to their group.

To make sure her play rang true to the teens’ experiences, Grinwis created a questionnaire for them to complete and visited the youth group to talk with the teens. She also worked with them to create an art project to help them express their feelings about coming out in a visual way. She then shared the same questionnaire with some adults – to see how their experience matched or were different from those of the teens – and combined all of their stories to create “Love-Nothing.”

The show was first staged at Barley Sheaf in 2010. Since that time, marriage equality became a reality for same-sex couples across the country. A gunman opened fire in at Pulse, a gay bar in Orlando, killing 49 people and wounding many more. Transgender rights have also become a much more prominent national conversation. Grinwis updated portions of the show, including adding a new scene between a mother and her transgender son, which she wrote after surveying some of her own transgender acquaintances and mothers of transgender children.

When asked why she wanted to revive this show for Barley Sheaf’s 50th season, Grinwis said, “The benefit has always been very important to me, and so I knew I wanted to participate in Barley Sheaf's 50th season by directing a benefit show. 'Love-Nothing' felt like the right piece to do at this time. Equality has made so many great strides since this piece was first produced at our theater in 2010, but, at the same time, the climate of the country has changed dramatically. My LGBT friends have more rights than ever before, but they also seem more targeted for hate. I wanted to counterbalance that by making a positive impact, in some way.”

“Love-Nothing” will play at the Barley Sheaf Players’ theater (810 N. Whitford Rd., Lionville) on Jan. 19, 20, 26, and 27 at 8 p.m. Admission is a pay-what-you-wish donation at the door and seating is general admission. The box office will open 30 minutes prior to curtain. Call 610-363-7075 or visit www.barleysheaf.org.

By Doug Roberts

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