WHEN WE DANCED
July 9-11, FRI & SAT at 8 p.m., SUN at 4 p.m.
written and performed by Gregory Ramos
directed by Joseph Megel
lighting by Sabrina Hamilton
True stories of LGBT/queer people from the Stonewall era – a celebrations of lives that once seemed impossible, and new struggles for self-definition and self determination as they confront age and aging
In the fall of 2007, Gregory Ramos’s partner shared an article in the The New York Times that explored the challenges facing aging gay and lesbian people. The article was accompanied by a photo of two men in a nursing home. One man in the photo is feeding his partner. Ramos wondered “Would this be me and my partner one day?”
Ramos started thinking about all the gay, lesbian and transgender people in this country and in other places around the world who have seen the enormous changes of attitudes and representations of queerness over the last 50, 60, 70 years. He began a quest to document the vital stories of LGBT/queer people who lived through much of the 20th and into the 21st Century. He began a series of interviews throughout the country asking his elders “What changes have they seen as queer people? How is being gay and lesbian now different than it was when they were coming of age, or coming out, or learning about their “otherness?”
We have lost and are close to losing the very people who fought, rallied, and resisted the social structures that once made queerness a crime, a mental disease, and caused us to lie about who we are to ourselves and to the world. WHEN WE DANCED is a theatrical tour de force, where Ramos transmutes into over a dozen characters — male, female, young and old, in order to share the perspectives and stories of those who laid the foundation and created the changes that have lead to domestic partnerships, civil unions, and (at least in some states) gay marriage.
WANT TO KNOW MORE? Visit www.gregoryramos.com
“You I just picked a wonderful time to be born — all these great strides are being made for gay people — even though I was born a few decades too early. But, I have a replaced hip that’s made all the difference . . . And Viagra! That’s new, and it’s just wonderful ” — Dave, in WHEN WE DANCED
is perhaps most noted for his play Border Stories, another piece based on interviews he conducted with people on the U.S.—Mexico border. It premiered as an ensemble piece in Austin, Texas, before Ramos developed a solo version of the play that has been performed in in Boulder, Colorado; Burlington, VT and in New York City. The piece is an intimate theatrical montage about sex, fear, and love on the US-México Border. “I literally went into bars with fliers asking people to talk to me,” Ramos said of his work collecting 50 first-person interviews, later trimmed down to the 20 monologues of Border Voices. The result is a show that evokes the complex symbolism of the border, not in academic language, but via the embodiment of the personal stories of gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgendered Chicanos living in El Paso, Texas; Juarez, Mexico; and Las Cruces, N.M.
Ramos studied and taught dance in Los Angeles, California before beginning his professional career there as a dancer. He danced in Television and Film as well as stage shows in Las Vegas and Tokyo. He went on to study acting at Playwrights Horizons in New York City, and privately with Ellen Burstyn. He subsequently appeared in several TV commercials and sitcoms. As a performer, he has toured the U.S and Europe appearing in West Side Story and The King and I with Yul Brynner (his first job as a member of Actor’s Equity Association). He also appeared in numerous plays along the way. He transitioned from performing to writing and directing after completing his MFA in playwriting at UCLA. His play Border Stories, based on interviews he conducted with people on the U.S.—Mexico border has been performed in Austin, Texas, and Ramos has performed a solo version of the play in Boulder, Colorado and in New York City. When he was on Faculty at The University of Texas El Paso, he created the Latino Guest Artist program and served as artistic director of The Border Public Theatre.
His one-act play Reaching Mercy was performed in New York City as part of the New York Summer One-Act Play Festival and his short play Breasts was performed by The Working Group Theatre Company. Shows he has directed (and/or choreographed) include: Once on this Island, Evita, Cabaret, Ain’t Misbehavin’, Santos & Santos, Real Women Have Curves, Confessions of Women from East L.A., and Our Town. He has served on The Texas Commission on the Arts Performing Arts Panel, and is currently on the faculty at the University of Vermont where he has taught Chicano Theatre, Playwriting, Acting, and Theatre Diversity courses.
is artist-in-residence in Performance Studies at The University of North Carolina Chapel Hill’s Department of Communication Studies where he runs the Process Series: New Plays in Development. He has spent the last 25 years focusing on the direction and development of new works for theatre, film and video. He is Co-Artistic Director of StreeetSigns Center for Literature and Performance in Chapel Hill, NC. He served for six years as Artistic Director of Playwrights Theatre in New Jersey, and continues to serve as Co-Executive Director of Harland’s Creek Productions; producer of New York premiers of new plays, developmental producer of screen plays, readings and films. A few of his directorial credits include Guillermo Reyes’s Men on the Verge of Hispanic Breakdown in its Off-Broadway production (Outer Critics Circle Award) and in Los Angeles (Best Director Ovation Award nomination, Best Production Award winner). Elsewhere; the direction of Jennifer Maisel’s The Last Seder at EST West in Los Angeles, Theatre J in Washington D.C., The Organic Theatre in Chicago (winner of the Kennedy Center’s Fund for New American Plays and other awards); Derek Goldman’s adaptation of Studs Terkel’s Will The Circle Be Unbroken in Chapel Hill and Washington D.C. (starring David Strathairn, Theordore Bikel, and Kathleen Chaulfant). He recently devised The Virtual Performance Factory for the CHAT Festival at UNC Chapel Hill commissioning works by playwrights Christine Evans, Jim Grimsley, Keith Haris Orkin, and Jennifer Maisel, with created digital media by Icarus Studios.
“You don’t have to be gay like me to be concerned about growing old. And I don’t just mean the fading beauty aspect of it but I will tell you, that hit me hard, really hard, being a female impersonator, right? I don’t care how good you are with a makeup brush, Marilyn Monroe lived to be 36, see what I’m saying? No one wants to see her look 46 or 56!”
— Geneva, in WHEN WE DANCED
“I didn’t come out ‘til I was in my late 60s. You try getting a date with a hot good looking guy when you’re 68! And the abuse you get from younger people in the bars or on the internet . . .”
— Dave, in WHEN WE DANCED