The Orlando International Fringe Theatre Festival, held for two weeks every May, is the oldest such theatre festival in the country, having begun in 1992. What’s unique about this festival is that proceeds earned from the festival go straight to the artists who put on such great shows for the appreciative crowds. Billed as “Orlando’s most unique cultural experience,” shows with gay themes are right at home at Fringe.
I got a chance to interview Jordan Tranberg, the writer and director of The Queer Diaries, and he told us a bit about the play’s beginnings and how it felt to showcase it at Fringe for the first time.
Tell us a little bit about the plot without giving too much away.
The play is about the LGBTQA community and the struggles, triumphs, and everyday situations we live through. It’s a series of vignettes told from the point of view of a variety of characters, Including a straight pastor, a sex ed professor, and a college jock. We talk about same-sex marriage, the best way to have oral sex, and we even show what the world would be like if being gay were “normal” and being straight was looked down upon.
How long have you wanted to write a play?
I wanted to write a play for the longest. I’m originally a spoken word artist. Poetry was my forté. But when I decided to combine my passion of acting and writing, a playwright was born!
How were “The Queer Diaries” born? What ideas did you have and why did you want to bring them to life?
The Queer Diaries was originally an series of poems. I wanted to take a shot at writing a play, so I took these poems, adapted them for the theater, and found a cast. We worked super hard, and the rest is history. The stories are real stories. Some [are] based on my life, some on other people I know. I want these stories to be heard, I want people to understand that this can be a hard life… but this can be a great life if you stay strong. I want to show people that we feel discriminated against more often than they think. We are people too.
Is this your first Fringe experience or have you been involved in other plays before?
This is my first year having a show in the Fringe Festival. I attended the festival last year, and got hooked. I will be participating every year from now on. [laughs]
How did it feel to see the show fully realized and performed for the crowds on opening night?
Speechless. That’s how I get when I see these actors perform my script. It’s mesmerizing. This is no ordinary play. It’s an interactive, thought-provoking, touching, hilarious, Big Gay Road Trip. Eight actors, 37 characters, 60 minutes. We are pushing boundaries with this dialog, but it needs to be done to get the point across.
What would you say to people who haven’t seen the show yet, to ensure that they go?
If you haven’t seen the show, you should get your butt to the festival and see it. It’s funny and at times very naughty. (There are a couple of butt shots!) But in the end, our goal is to inspire someone, make them laugh, maybe even make them rethink their prejudices. We hope this show can change a life. I have been fortunate enough to find a cast that holds the same philosophy of the Queer Diaries that I do.
If you’d like to see “The Queer Diaries,” showtimes are Wednesday, May 21 at 11:30 p.m. and Saturday, May 24 at 11:15 p.m. at the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center’s Blue Venue (812 E. Rollins Ave.). To buy tickets and a Fringe button, visit orlandofringe.org.