The idea for Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Doug Wright's short play "On Facebook" came from reading conversations about gay marriage on the world's most popular social network. His piece is part of a group of short works, “Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays.”
"I was stunned how in the relative safety of the Facebook format, people really let loose with their passions and were unafraid to say things that they might be ashamed to say face-to-face," says Wright.
The Facebook thread is something Wright says he vividly remembered. He made some changes to avoid legal issues and created "On Facebook."
"What's performed on stage is markedly the same in tone and content of what actually occurred in the thread," he says.
Wright and his partner are amount the 18,000 couples who got married before Proposition 8, outlawing gay marriage, was passed. "We made the loophole, and are now curiously married in some states and not in others. And if that isn't a governmental intrusion into our private life, I don't know what is. Whenever we arrive in a new state, the first thing we do is check our status."
He says it informs his writing. "It makes you passionate about the subject, certainly."
Wright pointed out what he sees as another irony. "I had some friends that asked me to become a marriage officiant in New York, so that I could marry them. They were a heterosexual couple. And so I'm licensed to marry others in New York, but can't get married myself. And these things lodge with you, and so writing about them I think is a very healthy kind of exorcism."
"Standing On Ceremony" is structured around nine shorts performed over 90 minutes. Wright says this presentation is a good thing for the gay marriage debate. "Even for people who may not be predisposed to go see an evening of theater on this subject, they see the degree of support that it's getting from the community, its visibility is heightened by the actors that choose to participate in it."
Wright says the theater can be an antiquated medium, "and I always think it's thrilling when suddenly the theater enters the public square and talks about current issues in a really vital and necessary way. Because not only does it make the issue of gay marriage relevant, but it makes that grand old invalid the theater relevant again too."
Doug Wright’s play “I Am My Own Wife” won the 2004 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. His short work “On Facebook” is one of several being performed Monday evenings this month and next at the L.A. Gay and Lesbian Center’s Renberg Theatre. Tonight’s cast includes John Glover and Jane Kaczmarek. The series includes works by other playwrights including Neil LaBute and Moises Kaufman.