Portrayals of LGBT people are increasingly common in the arts, with theatre commonly being connected with the LGBT community. People who live in the Atlanta area are not necessarily surprised when they see, for example, a gay couple on the screen or on stage.
For people who live away from Atlanta, though, live representation of the LGBT community can be hard to find. That’s one reason that the Newnan Theatre has created several productions with prominent LGBT themes. Among these productions is their newest, The Little Dog Laughed, which premieres Sept. 20.
The Little Dog Laughed tells the story of an actor who begins a relationship with a hustler, to the consternation of his agent, who fears that his burgeoning career will derail as a result of his same-sex relationship.
Artistic Director Paul Conroy feels that producing stories with prominent gay characters and themes are important in broadening acceptance for the community, especially in smaller towns like Newnan.
“Producing a show like The Little Dog Laughed in a big city like Atlanta gives you a sort of safety net; you know attitudes, for the most part, are accepting to gay people and issues,” says Conroy. “You have a built in audience when you have a population of hundreds of thousands of people. We don’t have that down here in Newnan. We, of course, have gay people who work with us on productions and who see our shows, but an overall presentation to the public in a positive light is not a common occurrence around these parts.”
There has been some resistance to the Newnan Theatre’s tackling of gay themes in its productions. Conroy cites a walkout during a production of Dog Sees God and casting concerns during The Laramie Project as a few recent examples of push-back from community members. According to Conroy, the theatre’s diverse range of productions should offer something for everyone, regardless of whether or not someone wants to see gay-related content.
“The truth of the matter is we present ten shows – more than any other theatre in the area – per season plus two full-scale shows over the summer. Of those shows we say that we offer something for everyone,” says Conroy. “There may be people who do not like musicals, and that’s why we only present two or three a year. Others may not like classics, or modern shows with a controversial edge – and we think that’s great! We just want to be as diverse as possible to reach as many people as possible with our productions. Some audiences members may only come to see our shows that have gay themes and characters because they can identify more with those shows. That’s why we do them.”
The Little Dog Laughed runs Sept. 20-30. For times and ticket purchases, visit newnantheatre.org or call 770-683-6282. Enter the code “David” online or mention David Atlanta when calling to purchase tickets to receive $2 off each ticket.