Anthony J. Piccione
When you write a play with a title such as ISIS: A gay love story, I think it’s fair to say that your play is likely to draw quite a bit of attention. Without knowing anything else about the play, the title invokes two highly relevant social themes – LGBT equality and global terrorism – which would seemingly contradict each other, but ultimately set the stage for a very interesting story. A play such as this – if it were ever produced – would inevitably draw a lot of attention and might rub a few overly-sensitive theatergoers the wrong way, which is exactly why I think it’s worth discussing now and one of the reasons why we should all hope that it gets the premiere it deserves.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with this project, ISIS: A gay love story is a brand new play written by playwright Ian Begley. Mr. Begley has stated that this is the first play that he has ever written, and that he hopes to stage it later this year at the Tiger Dublin Fringe Fest. The play tells the tale of a young gay man who is kidnapped by ISIS, but ultimately falls in love with a gay ISIS commander who is still in the closet. This absurdist concept – the idea of an American man starting a gay relationship with a man that is part of a religious terrorist organization that opposes homosexuality – could very well turn out to be one of the more timely and unique plays to be produced this year. As one could imagine, it might also be one that is fairly controversial for some people, as such controversy is practically inevitable whenever artists tackle the issue of Islam and terrorism, and would only be exacerbated when bringing the theme of gay romance – something that is considered to be appalling within much of the Muslim community – into the mix.
Personally, I think that’s exactly why it deserves to be receiving its world premiere this year at the Tiger Dublin Fringe. I’ve spoken many times in past columns at On Stage about the urgent need for more new plays to be produced all across the world that are highly entertaining, while also being potentially provocative. I’ve also used my position at this blog to address the issue of censorship in theatre and why artists in theatre should have the right to produce whatever shows they want, without fear of being persecuted in any way, shape or form. Given the content of this play – as well as the fear some artists have over tackling these issues, in the wake of incidents such as the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris last year – I feel like a play such as ISIS: A gay love story is something that people should not shy away from, in these times. Rather, I think those of us who love great theatre ought to be rushing to embrace this play and other similar projects.
I strongly believe that we need more plays like this in theatre that are both entertaining and provocative, and I hope that this particular play gets a chance to be staged in the near future. Ideally, I would like to see Mr. Begley achieve his goal of producing it in 2016 at the Tiger Dublin Fringe. If you agree, I hope you will consider going to its official Kickstarter page (https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/1776767802/isis-a-gay-love-story) so you can learn more about this exciting project, and send a donation to help it reach its goal of €1500 ($1674) by its March 5th deadline.
This column was written by Anthony J. Piccione: Student, playwright, actor, poet and blogger currently based in Connecticut. To learn more about Anthony and his work, please visit his personal blog at www.anthonyjpiccione.tumblr.com. Also, be sure to like him on Facebook (www.facebook.com/AnthonyJPiccione.OfficialPage), follow him on Twitter (@A_J_Piccione) and view his work on the New Play Exchange (www.newplayexchange.org/users/903/anthony-j-piccione)