Staging Social Justice: Collaborating to Create Activist Theatre
Edited by Norma Bowles and Daniel-Raymond Nadon
Southern Illinois University Press. 328 pages, $35.
IN 1991, Fringe Benefits Theater Company co-founder and artistic director Norma Bowles began collaborating with homeless queer youth in Los Angeles to devise original theater pieces depicting the sometimes brutally harrowing, often boldly inspiring actualities of their young lives. These powerful early pieces were performed at Highways Performance Space as well as at area high schools. They were acclaimed by critics and community alike, and Sir Ian McKellen himself narrated the film Surviving Friendly Fire about the company’s unconventional process. A subsequent project, Cootie Shots, resulted in a play tour and ensuing anthology that was groundbreaking in that it brought GLBT stories into elementary schools throughout the U.S. as early as 1999.