GLAAD Media Award Nominee Spotlight: 'From White Plains'

Editor's Note: This guest post from long-time GLAAD volunteer, Dan Bacalzo, is part of GLAAD's effort to draw more attention to theater projects with LGBT content.

By Dan Bacalzo

Fault Line Theatre’s From White Plains recently received a GLAAD Media Award nomination in the Outstanding New York Theater: Off-Off-Broadway category. The company-created work had a brief run last summer, and is now returning to the New York stage, playing Off-Broadway at the Pershing Square Signature Center, February 8 through March 9.

“We found out about the nomination the first day of rehearsal for the new run,” says Michael Perlman, who came up with the initial concept for the play and serves as the production’s director. “It was a nice reminder that people really responded to the piece when we did it last year.”

The work addresses the bullying of LGBT high school students from an uncommon vantage point – that of a former bully. In the play, 30-year-old Ethan is exposed on national television as someone whose behavior years ago contributed to the suicide of a former classmate. As Ethan struggles to accept responsibility for his past actions, he also has to deal with the repercussions that this revelation has on his present-day life.

The initial writing process for the piece was swift, with the version presented last year written between January and May of 2012. While Perlman did the bulk of the writing, parts of the show were developed in the rehearsal room and the script received constant feedback from the four-person cast: Craig Wesley Divino, Aaron Rossini, Jimmy King,
and Karl Gregory. “These guys are really smart and brave, and deign to take risks,” says Perlman. “The characters come from them, and while there are definite differences, they’re not always exposing the best parts of themselves. We were interested in finding the grays, finding the complexity.”

Perlman estimates that the new production has about 20% new material, although the basic arc of the piece remains the same. “It’s a richer, more sophisticated play this time around,” he says about the changes.

For the new run, Fault Line has reached out to high schools and universities, as well as to LGBT organizations such as The Trevor Project and the Tyler Clementi Foundation. Perlman hopes that bringing in audiences from such groups will “spark conversation, not just about the play, but the subject of bullying.”