Stuart Ross: Hollywood Marriage

Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays coproducer — and Forever Plaid creator — Stuart Ross renews his vow to spread a star-studded theatrical message about marriage equality.




Considering that you’re staging gay plays at a gay venue, how can you ensure that you’re not just preaching to the choir?
We tell people to pass the word on not just to friends but people who aren’t friends. We ask people not to be afraid to tell other people to come see these plays, using it as an introduction for those who aren’t sure yet about gay marriage. I actually just met with Zach Wahls, the University of Iowa student with two moms who testified before the state house of representatives against the repeal of marriage equality, because I’m adapting his speech for the show. He’s going around trying to find ways to make sure we’re not just preaching to the converted by telling the converted that they have to go out and spread the word.

Are other new pieces making their debut with this run?
Yes, we have a new piece about a Christian evangelist and a gay hustler by the amazing Joe Keenan, who has written a few very funny gay novels and who worked on Frasier and now works on Desperate Housewives. Wendy MacLeod, who wrote The House of Yes, wrote a new piece for us, and Jenny Lyn Bader from the Women’s Project has a new piece going in as well. The Gay and Lesbian Center has also been going out canvassing, asking people how they voted on Prop. 8 and how they would vote now, so we’re adapting those interviews into a piece about the non-converted. Many of the people interviewed have either changed their minds or are willing to rethink their position when the time comes.

Do you have a favorite piece?
I love all my children! [Laughs] I love the Jeffrey Hatcher piece called White Marriage. It’s about a straight couple, but the husband has always had a gay sense of humor. Their son’s getting married, so they start questioning and analyzing what happens when you marry someone you aren’t supposed to marry because you can’t marry the person you’re meant to marry. It’s quite brilliant. But what I love about all the plays is that you could actually do most of them straight, as if they were about straight couples. That’s sort of the thrill, because they present the normality of what life will be like when gay marriage is legal everywhere. They show that gay people go through some of the same issues as everyone else.

Do your actors volunteer their talent and time?
Yes. We try to cover costs for dinner, car service, parking, and gas, but that’s it, and we want to keep it that way. We want to make sure the money we raise goes to the right place. I’ve worked on benefits for just about everything, and it always bothered me how much money you have to spend on benefits.

Tags: Theater