Dr. Meghan Brodie is unquestionably one of the most popular professors at the University of Southern, Maine. She’s just that good. I asked Meghan to give an overview of her involvement with Out & Allied because she’s been key to the development of both Vol 1 and 2. She’s mentored students, directed performances, trained teaching artists, and whipped the editing process into shape.
“For me, Out & Allied is about hope.”
During 2009-2010, I led workshops at the University of Southern Maine (USM) for student playwrights working on LGBTQ theatre pieces for Add Verb Production’s Out & Allied Project. At each of our meetings, we discussed LGBTQ events in the news, LGBTQ language and the reclamation of previously defamatory terms like “queer,” and strategies for building LGBTQ allies. This ultimately culminated in Performances from the Out & Allied Project, produced by Add Verb Productions and largely composed of USM students. The production toured four southern Maine cities and was covered on the front page of the Local and State section of The Portland Press Herald. Several student-written pieces from this production are included in Out & Allied: An Anthology of Performance Pieces Written by LGBTQ Youth and Allies, Volume 1. Bonny Eagle High School requested two performances of the production, enabling us to reach hundreds of ninth and tenth graders and demonstrate Add Verb Production’s and USM’s commitment to diversity in a public arena.
During the Spring of 2011, I collaborated with Add Verb Production and Bonny Eagle High School to bring theatre for social change into the Drama classroom at Bonny Eagle. We used Out & Allied: An Anthology of Performance Pieces Written by LGBTQ Youth and Allies, Volume 1 as the foundation for creating new theatre for social change pieces. I taught an independent study to two USM students during the Fall 2011 semester, introducing the students to practical and theoretical texts about theatre for social change and helping them develop lesson plans to bring theatre for social change (oriented toward bullying and LGBTQ issues) into a high school classroom. Not only does this collaboration highlight the importance of community, it also addresses the significance of understanding diversity and combating prejudice. Add Verb and I worked with teachers, guidance counselors, and students at Bonny Eagle to tailor this project to Bonny Eagle students in an effort to change the school’s climate. The two USM students worked at Bonny Eagle to help students develop theatre for social change performance pieces about bullying and LGBTQ issues; this work culminated in a production called Sticks and Stones at Bonny Eagle in January 2012.
More than anything else, these and other collaborations with Add Verb Productions, including both volumes of Out & Allied, have highlighted for me young people’s desire to contribute to positive social change and stand in solidarity with their peers who often struggle to share their stories. For me, Out & Allied is about hope. Hope for a more compassionate future in which we stand with each other as we seek to foster equality and understanding.
Co-Editor, Out & Allied: An Anthology of Performance Pieces Written by LGBTQ Youth and Allies, Volumes 1 & 2. Assistant Professor of Theatre and Women & Gender Studies Faculty at University of Southern Maine