The day I talked to actor and playwright Steven Fales, Utah’s ban on gay marriage was referred to the Supreme Court for consideration.
“These are exciting times,” Fales remarked.
Fales has a personal connection to the Utah controversy. Born in Provo and raised in Las Vegas, the performer has built a cottage industry out of his onstage explorations of life as a gay man in the Mormon religion. His first show, “Confessions of a Mormon Boy,” became an off-Broadway hit in 2006, and Fales toured with it around the world.
Starting this weekend, for the first time he’ll perform all three of his autobiographical one-man shows together as “The Mormon Boy Trilogy,” presented by the Richmond Triangle Players. And while he’s interested in the marriage equality movement, Fales isn’t obsessed.
“External things are going to come and go for LGBT people,” he says. “I’m not as interested in the politics as I am in the quality of people’s lives. Whether we can get married or not, we still have to deal with the shame we might feel because of our childhoods. Or how do we behave in relationships now that we can get married? Or where do we go for our spiritual food when we can’t go to the religion we were raised in? These can be uncomfortable questions.”
Fales brought these uncomfortable questions to Richmond last year with a one-week run of “Confessions” at Richmond Triangle Players. He loved the venue and the crowd loved him.
“When the idea for doing all three of the shows together came up, we all said, ‘Let’s try it,’” recalls Phil Crosby, the company’s managing director. Starting Jan. 16, “Confessions” will run on Thursdays. Its prequel, “Missionary Position,” will run Fridays. And all three shows, including the latest, “Prodigal Dad,” will be performed in a Saturday “Mormon Boy” marathon. As a bonus, Fales will offer a performance of his cabaret act of musical parodies and standards called “Mormon American Princess” on Jan. 28.
“It’s going to be intense,” Crosby says. “I really don’t know how it’s going to do. There’s no history on doing a collection of shows like this.”
Richmond Triangle Players is doing more than just producing the show here. The company is investing in projections and other production elements that will go with Fales when he performs “Trilogy” off-Broadway in the fall. “It’s another new thing for us but something we were excited to try,” Crosby says. “And our company name will be carried to New York.”
Crosby says a large part of Fales’ success has come from his focus on the spiritual side of being gay, making “Trilogy” a perfect entry for the Richmond Acts of Faith festival -- a collection of shows addressing themes of spirituality, as presented by a variety of theaters across town from Jan. 12 through April 19. “‘Confessions’ was less about coming out and more about the crisis of faith that coming out can represent,” Crosby says.
Fales says that religious organizations such as the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints regularly perpetuate “spiritual abuse” on members who are gay. But his plays aren’t meant to be screeds against the religion as much as expressions of self-empowerment.
“Mormons are instilled with a mission to make the world a better place,” he says. “That was the gift I was given growing up in the Mormon church, though I’m sure this is not the mission they imagined for me.”
“The Mormon Boy Trilogy” will play at Richmond Triangle Players through Feb. 9. Tickets and information are available at rtriangle.org or by calling 346-8113. For information on the Acts of Faith festival visit theactsoffaith.org.