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THE ESSENTIAL A&E PICKS FOR JUN 3 - 9 

Sasha Issenberg: The Engagement: America's Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage, Chris Kattan @ Wiseguys, Body Logic Dance Company: Woman

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PENGUIN BOOKS
  • Penguin Books

Sasha Issenberg: The Engagement: America's Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage
Pride Month is a celebration—especially this year, after 2020 cancelling so many celebrations around the country—but it's also a reminder of the struggle for basic rights for queer people. And while the Stonewall uprising of June 1969 has made the month a center of attention for LGBTQ equality, that struggle has continued in the 50 years since to include a wide range of issues, up to and including the current assault on transgender rights at the state level.

One of the crucial battlegrounds in that struggle was the fight for marriage equality, one that culminated in the 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges Supreme Court decision that found same-sex marriage to be a Constitutionally protected right. It was, however, a long road towards that decision, one that Sasha Issenberg tracks in his new book The Engagement: America's Quarter-Century Struggle Over Same-Sex Marriage. Issenberg—a Political Science faculty member at UCLA, and a political writer with nationwide credits including The Boston Globe, Slate and The New York Times Magazine—follows that road from state-level battles like Hawaii in 1990 and California's Proposition 8 through the "Defense of Marriage Act" and up to the landmark Supreme Court decisions.

Join Issenberg for a Crowdcast virtual author event via The King's English Bookshop on Friday, June 8 at 7 p.m., in conversation with Utah State Senator Derek Kitchen, whose participation in the 2014 Kitchen v. Herbert case helped lay the case-law foundation for Obergefell. The event is free, but advance reservation is required via Crowdcast; find the link at kingsenglish.com. (Scott Renshaw)

VIA FACEBOOK
  • Via Facebook

Chris Kattan @ Wiseguys
For many comedy performers, becoming a cast member on Saturday Night Live feels like validation that you've "made it." Yet for every SNL alum who moves on to a blockbuster movie or television career like Bill Murray, Eddie Murphy, Julia Louis-Dreyfuss or Will Ferrell, there are those who seem to drift out of the spotlight—despite continuing to bring their talents to live audiences around the country.

Chris Kattan made his Saturday Night Live debut in 1996, and worked for seven seasons establishing popular characters like Mr. Peepers, Mango and, with castmate Will Ferrell, the head-bobbing, nightclub-frequenting Butabi Brothers (A Night at the Roxbury). After departing SNL in 2003, Kattan went on to find success in voice work for animated films like Delgo and Aqua Teen Hunger Force Movie Film for Theaters, as well as a recurring role on the comedy series The Middle.

Yet he has also spent the intervening years on stand-up stages, where he hasn't been shy about turning to his vintage SNL work for both crowd-appeal and self-deprecation. "Do you mind if I talk about my Saturday Night Live characters," he asked a New York audience in 2019, to whoops of applause. "Good," he responded, "because that's all I've got." That isn't remotely the case, of course, as you can see for yourself when Kattan visits Wiseguys comedy clubs for two nights: June 8 at The Gateway (194 S. 400 West, 7 p.m., $30), and June 9 at Jordan Landing (3763 W. Center Park Dr., West Jordan, 7:30 p.m., $30). Visit wiseguyscomedy.com for tickets and other details. (SR)

COURTESY PHOTO
  • Courtesy Photo

Body Logic Dance Company: Woman
It's been a long wait for Midvale-based Body Logic Dance Company to get back to live performing, according to company artistic director Melanie Ewell. While Body Logic was able to conduct classes for its dance academy over the past year—safely and without any COVID transmission during the pandemic—they haven't been able to put on a performance since January 2020.

Their return production, Woman, marks not just a return for the company to live performance, but a return to a program concept that they've been engaged in for several years: a Humanitarian Concert Series. "We decided our company would pick a charity we felt passionate about and work with them throughout the year," Ewell says, "then have a show that fits that theme." Previous productions involved collaborations with The Road Home shelter (Without a Roof) and Best Friends Animal Sanctuary (Cages).

Woman benefits YWCA of Utah, at a time when Ewell believes focusing on women's issues is particularly important. "With the temperament of the nation, it's important to remember those who did what they had to do to give us our rights," she says. In addition to works by Ewell herself and other company members, on themes including the unique challenges facing immigrant women, Woman includes a piece by guest choreographer Natosha Washington.

Performances for Woman will be held Tuesday, June 8 and Wednesday, June 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Mid-Valley Performing Arts Center (2525 Taylorsville Blvd., Taylorsville). General admission tickets are $25, available at bodylogicdance.com (SR)

COURTESY PLAN B THEATRE COMPANY
  • Courtesy plan b Theatre Company

Plan-B Theatre Co.: Local Color
It's one of the most enduring clichés about Utah: its overwhelming cultural whiteness. And while that's not entirely not true in terms of pure demographic numbers, there are plenty of stories being told here by people of color, as long as you know where to look.

One of those places is Plan-B Theatre Co.'s Local Color, the culmination of this season's unique "audio only" presentation. The program consists of four short plays, all written by Utah-based playwrights of color. DoLs, by actor/singer/playwright Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, finds two teenagers—one Black, one white—forming a friendship after meeting in a park while playing hooky from school in 1984 Baltimore, and revealing personal details about their home lives. Chris Curlett's Guise explores the relationship between two college-age men as they discuss how their emotional health is affected by expectations based on race and notions of masculinity, and the confrontations where those expectations emerge. Organic, by Tito Livas, finds dark comedy in a gay couple contemplating whether to "out" a gay closeted Black man after the latter makes public homophobic comments about a local controversy. And Tatiana Christian's Suicide Box takes a surreal look at what it's like for someone dealing with challenging mental health issues to also face the daily challenge of working phone customer service and facing the constant barrage of "can I speak to your manager."

Local Color is available for streaming June 3 – 13 on a pay-what-you-can basis. The production runs approximately 60 minutes, and features adult content and language. Visit planbtheatre.org for additional information. (SR)

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