Randie Parliament rarely does things in small measures; take for instance his Ghost Light Projects upcoming seven show season.
“I’m always willing to take a gamble,” says Parliament. “I ended a job that I wasn’t very happy with and for the first time I am in a position to go full force with this theatre venture. It was either that or simply pass it off as a hobby. I’m venturing in and seeing how much I can build on it. I’m excited by the prospects.”
That excitement has translated into an eclectic mix of shows that begins with Children’s Hour, a 1934 drama about sexual identity, bullying and gay suicide and ends with Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, which has been on Parliament’s mind for nine years.
But despite a seemingly disconnected nature of the shows on the surface, Parliament assures that there is always a queer sensibility in everything that he has chosen.
“Everything I do is queer positive and that is very important to me,” says Parliament. “The only non-gay play this season is Let’s Kill Grandmother This Christmas, but even it still has a gay aura about it with lots of campy humour and a lot of gay references.”
The chance to present the Canadian premiere of Let’s Kill Grandmother This Christmas comes from a chance with the playwright during a trip to New York City.
“I saw it in NYC last year and took a gamble on it after speaking to the playwright on the street. A few months later I emailed him and said I would be interested in doing it in Canada. He was all gung-ho and I’m thrilled this opportunity to bring this show to Vancouver”.
Before Let’s Kill Grandmother hits the stage though, Parliament will present three other shows including the season opener, the 1934 Children’s Hour which pushed boundaries at its time when any mention of homosexuality on stage was illegal in New York State.
“I’m super thrilled to be starting the season with Children’s Hour which explores themes of sexual identity, bullying and gay suicide,” says Parliament. “It is so amazing and profound, but it is also amazing that we still facing the same issues 80 years on. I am shocked.”
Sandwiched between Children’s Hour and his Christmas show, Parliament brings back the cult musical hit Hedgwig and the Angry Inch and a return engagement of Boys in the Band.
“I’m thrilled to be doing Hedwig again and I felt Boys in the Band never got the audience it deserved so I am bringing it back in a hopes of reaching a bigger audience,” he says.
2014 will see the interactive campy board game inspired Clue The Musical and The Singing Butler, a new show penned by Parliament and inspired by his real-life experience as a private butler in Vancouver.
“It was an interesting position, one that I don’t ever think I will return to,” he says. “It’s a very lonely role at times and I’m a very social person and it wasn’t for me. During my time away at butler school I wrote this show for my final project and now it’s been redeveloped and reworked.”
As for revealing the goods on his former employer in the show, Parliament tries to be as discreet as one would expect any good butler to be: “It is fictional, I have to state that for obvious reasons, it is about a butler dishing all the dirt about what it is like to be a butler and how politics come into play to hold that role. If people find similarities, that’s fine, but I have clear and clean conscience about doing this play and the truth in my writing. I’m very proud of the show and look forward to seeing it have legs.”
Closing the season is Moises Kaufman’s Gross Indecency: The Three Trials of Oscar Wilde, which uses real quotes and transcripts from Wilde’s three trials on charges of “committing acts of gross indecency with other male persons”.
“Indeceny is the show I was to act in nine years ago playing opposite Greg Bishop and it ended up falling through so it has always been on my mind and it is such a great bookend to our season opener, Children’s Hour,” says Parliament.
Characterizing his seven show season as ambitious, Parliament likens it to the school year: “they’ll run the gauntlet of emotions, hopefully always being popular”.
The season runs September 2013 through May 2014. Individual show tickets are on sale. Seasons passes are also available for all seven shows. Visit http://www.ghostlightprojects.com for more information.