Bar Dykes

Directed by Virginia Baeta NEW YORK--11 butch, femme, and ki-ki gals walk into a bar. It’s the late 1950s, and there are plenty of rules. Some come from the outside – like how many articles of women’s clothing you have to wear to keep the cops away. But plenty of rules come from the inside, too. You hip?

Merril Mushroom’s long-lost lesbian play will make its NYC debut in a reading presented by TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence), New York’s oldest professional LGBTQ theater, directed by Virginia Baeta at the Queerly Festival, June 21. 
Mushroom, a fixture on the early indie theater scene in the 1960s, worked and lived with such iconic figures as Robert Patrick, Doric Wilson and other off-off pioneers. She took off to find America in a VW bus at the end of the decade, and now lives in rural Tennessee. 
 She wrote “Bar Dykes” in the 1980s as an article for ?Common Lives/Lesbian Lives
? magazine. Encouraged by conversations about NY bar herstory, Merril shaped her article into a “one-act play in pantomime and dialogue.” The play was performed once in Los Angeles, and once in Florida, but never in New York City. 
After a fire in her home consumed much of Mushroom’s archives, friends started sending her their copies of her work, and she rediscovered “Bar Dykes,” and Pegacorn Press (Faythe Levine and Caroline Paquita) published it, with an interview with Mushroom, in which she shared stories of her journey through the 20?th? (and 21?st?) centuries as an out lesbian.
 “By publishing Bar Dykes… we not only celebrate the life and work of Merril Mushroom but also honor those who have fought to live freely, love whom they want, and make the world a safer, more accepting, and interesting place. We recognize that there is still a long way to go – Bar Dykes offers new perspectives on our past, acting as a catalyst for progression into the future.” (Faythe Levine & Caroline Paquita – from the introduction).
Robert Patrick, who never lost touch with Mushroom, sent a copy of the play to TOSOS Associate Artistic Director Kathleen Warnock, and the company decided to do a reading of it

STEM Fest. ? Queerly Festival (Kevin R. Free, Curator): ?FRIGID New York @ Horse Trade is proud to present, the third annual Queerly, a festival seen through lavender-colored glasses, June 23-July 1 at The Kraine Theater (85 East 4th Street between 2nd Avenue and Bowery). This year, we're bringing together a panoply of performers from New York City and beyond for a gender-liminal, super-gay, non-conformist, totally butch, aggressively femme and subversive AF celebration of all things LGBTQA (LMNOP).
TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence) is New York City’s oldest professional LGBTQ theater. In 1974, Off-Off Broadway veteran Doric Wilson (1939-2011), cabaret stars Billy Blackwell and director Peter dell Valle, started the first professional gay theatre company in NYC. It was called The Other Side of Silence; TOSOS for short. In 2002, directors Mark Finley and Barry Childs and playwright Wilson resurrected TOSOS. The company has produced over 30 mainstage shows of new and classic works, and so many readings of new plays and works in progress we have trouble counting them all. ?

 MERRIL MUSHROOM is a Florida native, Tennessee transplant and perpetual womonwriter.

 VIRGINIA BAETA (Director, “Bar Dykes”) ?has been an actor and singer for the past 20 years. Her recent stage work has been with The Queen’s Company (of which she is Associate Producer), an all-female classical theatre company, playing male characters from fops and fools to ill-fated kings. Through this work with The Queen’s Company, she began creating new plays that challenge gender expectations and put strong female and queer characters on stage. Her first play, “Damaged Goods,” was produced by TOSOS. Her play “Icarus” was presented in the Hysteria Festival of Women’s Work at Buddies in Bad Times Theatre in Toronto. She continues to act and direct with The Queen’s Company, TOSOS, other indie companies in NYC and in independent films.

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