Concurrent Panel Session Eleven

Abstract Title

“Some Kind of Paradise”: Illuminating LGBT+ History in The View Upstairs

Start Date

8-4-2018 2:00 PM

End Date

8-4-2018 2:50 PM

Abstract

The Laramie Project (2000) is an ethnographic theatrical work that chronicles the response of the population of Laramie, Wyoming in the wake of the hate crime and tragic murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. However, there is another hate crime, committed shortly after the Stonewall Riots, of which few people have knowledge: the arson attack at the Up Stairs Lounge in New Orleans, Louisiana. The arson attack took place on June 24, 1973, killing 32 people, and until the Pulse Club shooting in June of 2016 was the worst LGBT+ hate crime in American history. Regardless of this fact, the attack remains widely unknown to homosexual and heterosexuals alike. Max Vernon’s new musical, The View Upstairs (2017), uses the Up Stairs Lounge event as a foundation, creating a world exploring the last night of the bar. Like The Laramie Project, Vernon’s work seeks to illuminate attack on the LGBT+ community. What separates The View Upstairs from The Laramie Project is the fact that The View Upstairs directly interacts with the moment of tragedy whereas The Laramie Project deals in the aftermath. Through exploration of characters and the space itself, his musical seeks to educate audiences about the history behind the tragic event. This paper contends that by accessing events of the past and interacting with queer spaces of the theatre, audiences have the opportunity to interact with The View Upstairs and gain insight to the LGBT+ community of the past while simultaneously making connections to the modern LGBT+ community.

Keywords

LGBT History, LGBT Theatre, Hate Crime, Off-Broadway

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Apr 8th, 2:00 PM Apr 8th, 2:50 PM

“Some Kind of Paradise”: Illuminating LGBT+ History in The View Upstairs

The Laramie Project (2000) is an ethnographic theatrical work that chronicles the response of the population of Laramie, Wyoming in the wake of the hate crime and tragic murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998. However, there is another hate crime, committed shortly after the Stonewall Riots, of which few people have knowledge: the arson attack at the Up Stairs Lounge in New Orleans, Louisiana. The arson attack took place on June 24, 1973, killing 32 people, and until the Pulse Club shooting in June of 2016 was the worst LGBT+ hate crime in American history. Regardless of this fact, the attack remains widely unknown to homosexual and heterosexuals alike. Max Vernon’s new musical, The View Upstairs (2017), uses the Up Stairs Lounge event as a foundation, creating a world exploring the last night of the bar. Like The Laramie Project, Vernon’s work seeks to illuminate attack on the LGBT+ community. What separates The View Upstairs from The Laramie Project is the fact that The View Upstairs directly interacts with the moment of tragedy whereas The Laramie Project deals in the aftermath. Through exploration of characters and the space itself, his musical seeks to educate audiences about the history behind the tragic event. This paper contends that by accessing events of the past and interacting with queer spaces of the theatre, audiences have the opportunity to interact with The View Upstairs and gain insight to the LGBT+ community of the past while simultaneously making connections to the modern LGBT+ community.