Tag Archives: outspoken

OUTSpoken Opens Workshop Registration for LGBTQ+ Writers

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OUTSpoken Opens Workshop Registration
for LGBTQ+ Writers

OUTSpoken is a fifth-year program from the Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) that will take place in April of 2018. Our goal is to create a platform for the LGBTQ+ community of Knoxville, Tennessee and its surrounding areas to record and perform the experiences of sex- and gender-diverse individuals in the South

Registration for the OUTSpoken workshop series is now open. On-site participants will be a part of two workshops over the course of two weeks in order to create, edit, and produce a piece of art to be performed during SAFTA’s OUTSpoken events in April of 2018. Workshop attendees will work with professionals in performance, prose, and poetry to compose and tell their own stories.

Workshops will be held on January 20th and 27th and run from 1PM to 3PM at the Sundress Academy for the Arts.  Cost for the workshop is $20 for one and $30 for both. Discounts are available for students. If you are unable to attend because of cost, we do have limited scholarships available. Scholarship applications are due by January 10th and should be submitted to erin@sundresspublications.com for consideration.

We are also doing a BOGO special this year! Order tickets for yourself and give a ticket to a friend for free. Please note if you are claiming this option in your order so our team can properly prepare for the correct number of workshop attendees.

As LGBTQ issues gain greater visibility, it is crucial that we explore the complexities of sex and gender diversity respectfully. That said, we realize that unity cannot and must not be silent, and that in order to create a meaningful dialogue, we must acknowledge and listen to the stories, experiences, grievances, arguments, and counterarguments of all sex- and gender-diverse persons.

Register today at: http://www.sundresspublications.com/outspoken/

 

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OUTSpoken Seeks Submissions from LGBTQ Writers

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OUTSpoken is an exciting new program from the Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) that aims to amplify the experiences of the LGBTQ community of Knoxville, TN. By creating a platform for sex- and gender-diverse individuals in the South where they can share and perform their experiences, the program is able bring understanding into the entire community and unite them with art.

LGBTQ writers from all over the country can submit a wide range of work to OUTSpoken, including poetry, nonfiction, spoken word, and video submissions of a monologue, dramatic piece, or film.  Writers can submit up to three poems, 1,200 words of prose, or five minutes worth of performance or film clips. Winners will receive publication in Stirring: A Literary Collection and free admission to the June, 2016 OUTSpoken performance in Knoxville. All submissions should be sent with third-person bio to outspoken@sundresspublications.com by March 31, 2016.

The OUTSpoken performance will also include creative work developed as part of our three-month workshop series, which began in January and continues through March. These workshop participants have the opportunity to participate in the staged reading in June, showcasing their work personal work.

As LGBTQ issues gain greater visibility, it is crucial that we explore the complexities of sex and gender diversity respectfully. In order to create a meaningful dialogue, we must acknowledge and listen to the stories, experiences, grievances, arguments, and counterarguments of all sex- and gender-diverse persons.It is our sincerest hope that this project will illuminate the struggles of Southern LGBTQ persons and celebrate sex and gender diversity in East Tennessee and beyond.

For more information, visit Sundress Publications.

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OUTSpoken Opens 2015 Workshop Registration for LGBTQ+ Writers

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OUTSpoken is a second-year program from the Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) that will take place in Summer 2015. Our goal is to create a platform for the LGBTQ+ community of Knoxville, Tennessee, and its surrounding areas to record and perform the experiences of sex- and gender-diverse individuals in the South.

Registration for the OUTSpoken workshop series is now open. On-site participants will be a part of three workshops over the course of three months in order to create, edit, and produce a piece of art to be performed during SAFTA’s OUTSpoken events in Summer 2015. Workshop attendees will work with professionals in performance, prose, and poetry to compose and tell their own stories.

Workshops will be held on January 17th, February 21st, and March 28th, 2015 and run from 1PM to 3PM at the Sundress Academy for the Arts. Cost for the workshop is $25 for one, $45 for two, or $60 for all three. (Participants who attend at least two on-site workshops will be eligible to perform their piece at the OUTSpoken events later in the year.) Scholarship applications are also available on our website.

As LGBTQ issues gain greater visibility, it is crucial that we explore the complexities of sex and gender diversity respectfully. That said, we realize that unity cannot and must not be silent, and that in order to create a meaningful dialogue, we must acknowledge and listen to the stories, experiences, grievances, arguments, and counterarguments of all sex- and gender-diverse persons.

Register today!

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Meet Our New Editorial Intern, Alexandra Chiasson!

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As an English major at the University of Tennessee and an intermittent reader of The Metro Pulse, I have been vaguely aware of Sundress Academy for the Arts since I moved to Knoxville in 2011.

It wasn’t until this summer at Knoxville PrideFest, however, that I spoke to a Sundress Academy staff member who persuaded me to attend my first SAFTA event—the 2014 OUTSpoken staged reading. The reading sounded unique and fresh, particularly for East Tennessee, so I rounded up a group of friends to accompany me. When I arrived, I was delighted to see that I knew one of the performers and several members of the audience.

The performers were excellent and the material genuine. One piece, a series of open letters written by a close friend, moved me to tears. Unfortunately, I only got to see the first 20 minutes or so of the OUTSpoken reading. About a third of the way through, I felt a feeling in my stomach that I at first mistook for some physical manifestation of the emotions I was experiencing. It soon became apparent that it was more likely the unfriendly mingling of the coffee and salsa I had ingested earlier that day, and I ran to the restroom where I promptly vomited.

I tell this story not to make some strange point about the poignancy of spoken word or to share a cautionary tale of which acidic foods are most incompatible. I tell this story to share this remarkable coincidence and how I overcame some fairly negative associations when this internship position fell into my lap this fall and I delightedly snatched it up.

I am currently a reluctant and unseasoned writer, and I hope that my impending work with Sundress Publications as the Editorial Intern will assist me in quelling uncertainties—which sometimes cause me to feel like I did the night of the OUTSpoken reading—regarding sharing my writing with others. I cannot think of a better community of artists to mingle and network with, and I look forward to attending many more (hopefully sans vomit) SAFTA events.

 

 


Alexandra Chiasson is majoring in English (Literature and Technical Communication) at the University of Tennessee, where she also writes a weekly humor column called “Stained and Confused” for the student-led newspaper. Her ongoing research project explores ecofeminist perspectives on Appalachian literature, with a focus on the writing of Amy Greene and Ron Rash. Her hobbies include serving on the Sex Week UT planning board, sampling different types of pretzels, and bragging about bargains.

 

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OUTSpoken Director, Adam Crandall, Reflects on This Year’s Performance

Two weeks after a breathtaking premiere, Adam Crandall, SAFTA’s Performing Arts Assistant, reflects on his experience organizing and producing OutSpoken, his first original production for SAFTA in which members and allies of Knoxville’s LGBTQ community combined to share their unique stories of love, loss, and life. 

 

It’s been about two weeks since SAFTA’s performance of OUTSpoken, and it has taken this long for me to truly grasp what we accomplished through this program. As director, designer, actor, and organizer of this production, I was so absorbed with the technicalities of all the pieces coming together that I never really had the chance to reflect on the completed puzzle.

Before I directed OUTSpoken, I had previously learned a little about the directing process through an All Campus Theatre’s production of Almost, Maine. However, I quickly realized that directing an already established play is very different than building a production from the ground up. With OutSpoken we were constantly adding and changing different scenes as the writers and actors worked on translating written word into performance pieces. It became a completely organic process—one in which I had to sometimes just step back and let develop on its own.

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As a member of the Knoxville queer community, June was a very special (and busy) month for me. I performed with the Knoxville Gay Men’s Chorus for the first time at a crowded Bijou Theatre in front of an amazing and positive audience. I then had the opportunity to march in my first Knoxville gay pride parade with my SAFTA family and enjoyed the largest Pridefest the city has ever seen.

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After all this celebration, it was then time to share OUTSpoken with the rest of the community. Leading up to the performance on June 28th, I had no idea what to expect. Would all the pieces come together? Would our planned blocking work out in the actual venue? Would anyone even show up to watch us crash and burn?

Luckily, plenty of people showed up and they didn’t have to watch us crash and burn. The amazing performers and crew created a very intimate experience for the audience that I have never witnessed before. That night, the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church became a safe place where Knoxville’s LGBTQ community could come together to share their experiences of love, loss, and life. Many times during the evening as I sat on stage as a performer, I forgot I was acting and became lost in the stories being shared—some of which I had never heard until that night.

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Throughout my internship with SAFTA—which started way back in January—OUTSpoken has taken many different shapes. Although the end product looked very different than many of our initial ideas, the end goal was always the same: to share the voices of Southern LGBTQ people with the rest of the community. We accomplished our goal.

 

 

Adam Crandall is a graduate of the University of Tennessee’s Theatre program, where he was involved with both Clarence Brown Theatre productions as well as student productions with All Campus Theatre, including his directorial debut Almost, Maine. He serves as the Director of Theatrical Arts at SAFTA.

 

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Inteview with OUTSpoken Performer, Molly Kessler

ImageRehearsing the piece “Singing Blue/Straight Girls”, (from left to right) Sean Madison Kelley, Amber Autry, and Molly Kessler, with dir. Adam Crandall in the background.

OUTSpoken (a one-night event) will be going up next Saturday, the 28th at 7PM at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Church. Molly Kessler will be one of seven performers lending their talents to the pieces showcased in the production. Having been an actor since her freshmen year, she wrote her first play “I See London, I See France” in 2013. She will be performing the poetry piece “Singing Blue” as well as playing a supporting role in the prose piece “Steel”.

ES: How did you get involved with OUTSpoken?

MK: Well, I was contacted by Adam [Crandall, director] who organized the event.

ES: OUTspoken presents a series of separate written pieces, along with poetry readings, by local LGBT and ally writers. Can you tell us more about the pieces that you are a part of?

MK: The piece is a poem called “Singing Blue” and Adam’s joined it together with another poem called “Straight Girls”, and it’s sort of a back-and-forth: both pieces are about gay women pining after straight girls, and realizing that it’s an unattainable or unrequited love. So, Sean Kelly, who’s performing “Straight Girls”, and I are doing this back and forth.

ES: One of the themes common to both “Singing Blue/ Straight Girls” as well as the other piece you are involved in, “Steel”, are people dealing with relationships, or potential relationships, that aren`t working out. Do you have any personal connection to the type of issue these pieces are exploring?

MK: Yeah, I think we all do. It doesn`t necessarily have to be romantic but just, trying to be friends with somebody or trying to work with somebody when you have incompatible personalities. It doesn`t even have to be romantic. I can think of dozens of situations like that, sexual preference aside.

ES: What do you, speaking of both the pieces you’re in, hope to achieve? Do you come in with a specific goal in my mind, with these projects?.

MK: I just come into it hoping to tell the story. Because that’s what I assume part of the goal in writing it was, to convey some sort of emotion or tell a story, and I hope it comes across and does the story-teller justice.

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Director Adam Crandall (left) directs Taylor Jackson (right) in OUTSpoken piece “Banging”.


ES: Of course, OUTSpoken is more than just a night of story-telling. There’s also a wider social issue being promoted. What kind of role do you think a production like this plays in the big picture of giving voice to LGBT people in our community?

MK: I think that the kinds of stories we’ve told for a long time don`t really show that side of human experience. But we’re showing those who may not know a lot about LGBT issues, that they’re real people, showing them go through things that everyone can relate to. It helps you understand that it is a human experience, and that we are all the same.

ES: So, would you say that the performing arts, like theatre and film have a special role to play in promoting that kind of understanding?

MK: Well, yeah, because it’s entertaining. And when people are entertained, they listen. Even something like the difference between news programs and Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert-people get their news from shows like that now, because it’s entertaining and they retain it. And in our production… the pieces are so beautiful, and you can`t help but listen.

ES: So we’ve talked about performance- what about writing? Do you have a lot of experience with, say, writing poetry?

MK: Well, I’ve written poetry, but I don`t show it to anyone because it’s just goofy and stupid. It all rhymes, and it’s all Seussy and not about anything real. I have written a play, which was not fiction but based on my experience studying abroad in France.

ES: Having both performed and worked in a written form, would you say you have a preference?

MK: I much prefer writing, myself. The difference for me… I don`t know, it’s not that I feel more connected to my words… I feel more connected to someone else saying my words than I do when it is myself saying somebody else’s words- if that makes sense. I feel more comfortable with someone else saying my words, than me saying someone else’s. Because I feel like I don`t do them justice.

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ES: How about your future plans? We were talking earlier about how you were planning on moving to Chicago. What do you plan to do once you get up there?

MK: Yes. Some friends and I, including Amber Autry, who is also in the show, are planning on moving there sometime in September. I want to take some classes with Second City and Improv Olympic. I’m not sure quite where that will go, I’m really interested in writing more than performing, but life takes you places, and you don`t know where it will go. And that’s exciting, and also terrifying.

ES: One more question. Do you have a favorite LGBT pop icon?

MK: It’s gotta be Ellen. Without a doubt Ellen. It will always be Ellen.

 

Buy your tickets for OUTSpoken today!

Erik Schiller is a graduate of the University of Tennessee, where he received his BA in Anthropology and English, with a minor in Theatre. He has been performing in live stage and film productions in Knoxville since 2009, working with local companies that include the Clarence Brown Theatre, Yellow Rose Productions, and Badland Pictures. In addition, he has served as Secretary for All Campus Theatre at UTK, is a founding member of the guerilla theatre troop Shakespeare Unauthorized, and has had poetry published in the Phoenix Literary Arts Magazine.

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SAFTA Presents… OUTspoken on June 28!

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We are excited to announce the premiere of OUTSpoken, a theatrical review written and performed by the local LGBTQ community and its allies.

OUTSpoken began with a series of writing workshops, where community members developed their experiences into poems, monologues, narratives, or other literary forms. We also received many submissions online from writers and artists around the country, which were then revised and transformed into performance pieces.

Some participants worked with local actors to bring their writing to life, while others will be performing their writing themselves. It is our sincerest hope that this project will help create a platform to record, perform, and illuminate the experiences and struggles of the Southern LGBTQ community, as well as celebrate sex- and gender-diversity in East Tennessee and beyond.

The event will include performances by Adam Crandall, Donald Rickels, Molly Kessler, Sean Kelley, Amber Autrey, and Raven Mason, and will feature the writing of T.A. Noonan, Erin Elizabeth Smith, Andrew Emitt, and more!

OUTSpoken will take place on Saturday, June 28th, at 7:30pm at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the SAFTA website for $10 or at the door for $15. A percentage of the proceeds will go to support the East Tennessee Chapter of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network).

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Sundress Publications Announces OUTSpoken Contest Winners

 

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Knoxville, TN—Between January and May, the Sundress Academy for the Arts (SAFTA) and Sundress Publications, its parent organization, invited submissions of poetry, prose, theater, film, and other forms of socially conscious performance for its OUTSpoken program. Making final decisions was difficult, as we were stunned by the power, beauty, and variety of the entries received.

Our overall winner is Dee Stribling for her dramatic monologue, “Why Poetry.” Stribling will receive a $100 honorarium to travel to Knoxville, Tennessee, a free workshop at SAFTA, and tickets to and a DVD of the final performance. Her work will also appear in the June 2014 issue of Stirring, the flagship journal of Sundress Publications.

We have also selected two finalists as winners in their individual genres: Gemma Cooper-Novack’s “Straight Girls” in Poetry, and Kelly Barth’s “Complication” in Prose category. Both Cooper-Novack and Barth will also receive publication in Stirring, along with a free workshop at SAFTA and tickets and a DVD of the final performance.

OUTSpoken’s goal is to create a platform for the LGBTQ community of Knoxville, Tennessee, and its surrounding areas to record and perform the experiences of sex- and gender-diverse individuals in the South. Both Stribling’s and Novack’s work will be performed as part of this program.

The event will take place on Saturday, June 28th, at 7:30pm at the Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church. Tickets can be purchased in advance from the SAFTA website for $10 or at the door for $15. A percentage of the proceeds will go to support the East Tennessee Chapter of GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian, & Straight Education Network).

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Meet Danny M. Hoey, Our 2013 Fiction Judge for OUTSpoken

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Danny M. Hoey, author of The Butterfly Lady (Flaming Giblet Press, 2013), will be one of the Sundress Academy for the Arts’ judges for the OUTSpoken competition. His novel has achieved acclaim throughout the entire LGBT community. Hoey says he wrote The Butterfly Lady “to give Gabriel, or someone like Gabriel, a sense of humanity – to show that they are not a spectacle, but a real person.”

He goes on to explain that writing this story has not only helped himself to feel empowered to be truthful, but also encouraged his friends to write the truth and to remain truthful in their writing, “It’s helped me to not be afraid to write the truth, even the hard parts. I was afraid and then I let it go. I’m not as afraid as I was before. I can write things that matter.”

This led him to meet and work with author T.A. Noonan, who informed him of SAFTA and the OUTSpoken program. Hoey described his excitement at the opportunity to work with and judge for this organization, saying, “We need more LGBT voices. I think it is important to help the arts in any way we can because art is political. We need to give people an area to express themselves and who they are and give them an opportunity to be who they are.”

The Butterfly Lady was just named a Finalist for the Foreward Book of the Year in Gay and Lesbian Fiction.

Submit your work today!

 

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Adam Crandall on Growing Up Queer in the South

Growing up queer anywhere in the United States can be a very difficult experience, however, attempting to come to terms with your sexuality in a region labeled “The Bible Belt” brings a unique set of challenges to the table. I was born in New York state, in a small town where you only went to church on Christmas and Easter (and occasionally when you happened to be at your grandparents’ house on a Sunday).

It was not until we moved to East Tennessee that I realized, as one of my younger cousins so perfectly stated, “God is bigger in the South.” Church became a weekly experience, not to mention choir, youth group, and hand bell practice, because that was the socially acceptable thing to do. There was never a point where I remember my family “becoming more religious,” religion just became a larger part of our daily life, because religion was a larger part of everyone else’s lives around us.

It was also around the time that we moved here that I started to discover my sexuality. It became quickly apparent that I was developing feelings that did not fit in this religious society I had moved to. Illustrated by my Livejournal entries, you can see as I transitioned from a carefree adolescent into a teenager living a double life.

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Luckily, I found an amazing group of friends that knew my secret and couldn’t care less, but around my family and the rest of the world I wore a mask. It was terrifying to even think of coming out in a place where lawmakers attempted to pass a bill that would forbid teachers to even talk to students about being gay. Luckily, through the support of my friends, I was able to come out to my family, who accepted me for who I am, and the rest of the world.

After leaving home to attend college at the University of Tennessee, I learned that this happy ending was very rare for queer people in the South. Almost none of my queer friends had come out to their parents and were still living the double life that I struggled with in high school, and those who had come out to their parents were usually not on speaking terms. Everyone I met had a unique struggle, but most of them centered around coming out in a deeply conservative region of the South.

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This year, I was chosen as SAFTA’s performing arts intern, and when I first met with Vania and Courtney they pitched me their idea for a project called OUTSpoken. I immediately fell in love with the concept, and couldn’t wait to get started on this amazing program. It combined both my love for performance and my desire to be an advocate for LGBTQ people living in Tennessee. We wanted to portray people’s experiences growing up in the South in a productive way that would hopefully help both the people sharing these stories and the audience witnessing them.

As we get closer to the date of our first workshop, I cannot wait to hear the stories of other queer Tennesseans, and maybe share a story or two of my own.

Adam Crandall is a 2013 graduate from the University of Tennessee with a bachelor’s degree in theatre, where he was involved with both Clarence Brown Theatre productions as well as student productions with All Campus Theatre, including his directorial debut Almost, Maine. He has grown up with a passion for performing arts and is very excited to be working with SAFTA as a performing arts intern.

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