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Diversionary Theatre explores the meaning of "Pride" in its next production

SAN DIEGO – While attitudes towards homosexuality have changed in the last 50 years, there are deep-rooted societal issues that continue to haunt LGBT people.

Diversionary Theatre’s next production, “The Pride,” will open tonight and look at some of these forces through a time-shifting exploration of identity and passion.

Set in Britain in both 1958 and 2008, the play looks at the lives of a set of characters in the past and modern day who share the same names and are played by the same actors.

Starting in 1958 with uptight estate agent Philip and his wife Sylvia who are entertaining a young novelist named Oliver, an unspoken but palpable tension results in a passionate and guilt-ridden affair between the two men.

This leads Sylvia to become filled with a deep loneliness, as she is caught in a loveless marriage.

In 2008, Oliver is a sex-addicted journalist who longs to get back together with his ex, Philip. Sylvia plays the friend stuck in the middle.

San Diego Gay & Lesbian News spoke with the production’s award-winning director Glenn Paris about the show, who said he was attracted to the script because of its writing and innovation.

“The piece is political and [author Alexi Kaye Campbell] makes a strong argument that pride is an important quality that we have as individuals,” Paris said. “In the context of community, it becomes political, which is a necessary force for change. The idea in the play is expressed in a very sophisticated way.”

This type of work, Paris said, is right up the alley of the type of productions he is used to directing at his home theater, ion.

“At ion, we tend to be drawn to innovative, bold, and challenging work, so it makes sense for me to connect to this,” Paris said.

As for the actors in the show, Paris said that he has worked with three of the four of them before, which made it easier for the show to come together.

“I have a shorthand with the actors, we can speak the same language,” he said.

As director, Paris said he was challenged to tell a story, taking place in two decades, on a small stage.

“Most paramount for the director is to clearly tell the story,” Paris said, noting that he has a great team of actors in this show that will help make that happen over the run of “The Pride.”

Paris said he was able to communicate with Campbell throughout the process of putting the show together, which created a great dialogue between the director and playwright.

“Alexi has been very forthcoming and articulate, and is thrilled that his play picking up traction in San Diego,” Paris remarked.

Audience members are certain to come away from the show entertained but provoked, the director promised.

“While above all else theater entertains people, it shouldn’t solely entertain,” Paris said. “It has a function in culture to provoke the audience and stimulate discussion. Through those discussions, I hope it has an effect on the audience where people maybe reconsider some of their thoughts and/or decide that they might come closer to working on something that could ultimately result in change.

“'The Pride’ is a strong piece, and besides the other issues in the play, my assumption is that Alexi also looked at 'Pride' as annual LGBT community event, asking himself, ‘What does this mean? How is it moving our community and the LGBT identity forward? What are we doing every year when we come together to celebrate our ‘pride’?”

Paris, who hopes people will come out and see the production, said he is delighted to be collaborating with Diversionary on this piece, and believes people can use this experience as inspiration to make change in their communities.

“We’ll take several steps forward and then take steps back but ultimately make enough steps forward to make a change to have our rights respected,” Paris said.

The details

"The Pride" opens Thursday, April 5, with a preview night. The official opening night is Saturday, April 7, with shows running on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights at 8 pm, and Sundays at 2 pm through May 6. There will also be an 8 pm show on Monday, April 30.

Tickets are priced from $20 to $33, with discounts available for students, seniors, military and groups.

Exclusive discount for SDGLN readers

Use code "SDGLN" at check-out for $5 discount. Restrictions apply, subject to availability. Offer is good for any show except April 7 & 8; discount code must be used by April 22.

Tickets and more information are available HERE.