Week-long exploration of “Queer Stories”

SPU welcomes a celebration of being queer on campus as three short stories come to life on stage

Clarissa Minton, Staff Writer

A poster advertising the Queer Stories One Acts is shown posted in the Student Union Building on campus. (Gemma Cannon-Green)

On Tuesday, March 7, begins five evenings of relaxation for the LGBTQIA+ community. As “Queer Stories” hits the stage, the hope is that students at Seattle Pacific University who identify as LGBTQIA+ will feel heard. For an hour and five minutes, the world can melt away into a warm sense of understanding and fun. A total of three shows will be put on which are all about feeling warm and tender love while dealing with a society that is not so accepting.

Nik Nolen, director of “The Marriage Tree,” who is a graduated communication major and theatre minor, wanted to pick a story to fit SPU culture with all of its beautiful and complicated layers.

 “SPU is so layered, and I felt like I needed to pick a script that reflected that in a way that was also very tangible to the audience,” Nolen said. 

They wanted it to tell the story of two people who grew up in different ways. Considering the background of the students at SPU, they knew the story would speak volumes when it comes to religious trauma and the LGBTQIA+ community.

“The Marriage Tree” is about two girls who have a playdate under a peach tree after school one day, where they talk about love and the world. In this production, their conversation will take place in an attic instead of under a peach tree. 

“It’s about how societal expectations manifest in younger children, which I think is so important, especially on this campus because I don’t think people understand that the words we say out loud have an impact everywhere we go,” Nolen said. 

The director of “Murmurs,” Hannah Lund, is a senior theatre performance major. Like Nolen, they also went through a lot of short stories before finding the one that felt just right.

“I didn’t think I was going to like it, but once I had read it, I was blown away. It felt like something a lot of people could connect to, and I love the vulnerable and emotional aspects,” Lund said. 

Their play takes place in the 1970s when two kids hang out after school to enjoy a baseball game together. While they are hanging out, they become connected while discussing their secrets and their issues.

For the third show, graduated theatre performance major Dami Monroe is directing “Letters for Adelaide.”

Monroe got their story from fellow director Nolen who thought it would be right up their alley. According to Monroe, Nolen was right.

“This is a historical love story set in the 1920s told through letters. I thought it was so beautifully poignant. I love history, and I really wanted to direct a script that showed the tenderness and intimacy of love and how there can be vulnerability and safety in something that seems a little scary. So, that was something I really latched onto while reading the script that Nik sent to me,” Monroe said. 

Monroe’s play is about Adelaide, an artist, meeting a writer named Donnie at a college they both attended. Their love story takes place in the mid-to-late 1920s over about five years. During that time they write letters back and forth and deal with the distance and time between them, alongside dealing with society’s forces all around them.

All three directors chose stories that shared similar themes of vulnerability and tender love. 

“That’s what I loved about this process. We all seemed to have similar feelings of vulnerability and emotion, that a lot of people can connect to,” Lund said. 

These shared themes made collaboration easier for the three directors.

“It’s been a very collaborative process as three directors. It could’ve easily been a separate process, but we decided to come together. Even though we didn’t choose our plays with each other in mind, we did realize that there are themes that connect each one, and we really wanted to dive deep into that,” Lund said. 

Until tech week, their rehearsals were separate, but that did not stop the directors from helping each other. They gave each other notes and suggestions on how to make their shows even better.

This process has been long in the making. A year has passed since the directors began looking for short stories they wanted to show the students at SPU. 

“We all got together with Candace Vance. They are the chair of the theatre department and the artistic director of the evening as a whole,” Monroe said. “We’re each directing our shows, but she’s been helping guide and mentor us the whole time as well. We talked about what we wanted this evening to look like, how we wanted to hold auditions and what we wanted our rehearsal processes to look like.”

Once the logistics of the shows were figured out, the directors could begin casting and producing the shows. One of Lund’s favorite parts of the process was challenging their actors.

“I’ve really loved challenging my actors because it’s a new space for them. They’re used to the mainstage, but this show is intimate with intimate themes and intimate space,” Lund said. “All of us are students, so we’re all learning at the same time. I’ve really loved tech and asking my actors to try giving me a little bit more, or getting ideas from the other directors.”

When it comes to SPU, even the fun moments can remind students of all the challenges occurring on campus, including the lawsuit against the board of trustees and their discriminatory hiring policy against LGBTQIA+ identifying people. The directors of this show know what it is like to struggle on this campus, but they want these evenings to be a safe space for everyone to feel loved and at ease.

“There’s so much hard work involved with the protests and the hearings, and it’s just nice that the focus of this was on joy. We’re still fighting and we’re still making our mark and saying ‘we belong here,’ but we’re able to do it in a joyous celebration,” Lund said. 

The show runs from opening night on March 7 through March 11.  The directors are excited to bring their unique shows to the stage for all of SPU to see and hope that they can bring joy and unity to all students, especially those who are searching for a place of belonging at the university. 

“I hope our audience finds a connection with characters or feelings in each of our shows, whether or not they are a part of the LGBTQ+ community or they’re an ally,” Lund said. “If this is the first time they’re really understanding the idea of queerness, I just really hope that people will connect with this and feel the joy that we’ve been feeling and trying to bring into these shows.”

To get tickets for Seattle Pacific University’s production of“Queer Stories,” click here.