Just this week, the City of Colorado Springs rescinded its four-month old policy of offering health and family-leave benefits for same-sex partners of city employees. Just so, the hangover of bigotry, begun by desert patriarchs in need of ever-more progeny to fight their neighbors, continues to fly in the face of scientific evidence and basic human rights. More outrageous yet is the fact that those leading the fight to deny benefits to gays have the gumption to believe their behavior is consistent with a religion that pretends to honor the teachings of Jesus.
Given this mass delusion, which permits war-profiteers such as George W. Bush and his backers to hide behind "Christian virtue," one might wonder what could happen if such fundamentalists were permitted to fully institute their agenda. To answer this question, one need look no further than Hunger Artists Ensemble Theatre's current production of Bent, now running at the Lida Project Theatre.
Set in Germany between 1934 and 1936, Bent tells the story of how the Nazis, exhibiting the self-same superiority of our fellow Coloradans in the Springs, rounded-up, tortured, and murdered untold thousands of gays. Any resemblance, of course, between the Nazis' Reichstag fire and the totalitarian laws that quickly followed, to the Bush-Cheney junta's 9-11 and the U.S. Patriot Act, is strictly a figment of hyperactive imaginations.
|William Hahn as Max|
Photo by Dell Domnik
Though this production starts out slowly, as we are inculcated with the leftover decadence of Depression-era Weimar Berlin, the emotional and dramatic stakes quickly take off once the fascists show up and begin to carry out their so-called moral policies.
|Dennis Crowder as Rudy|
and William Hahn as Max
Photo by Dell Domnik
William Hahn, as Max, is the emotional heart of this play, as he grows from a youthful libertine to a mature and nurturing partner. Hahn's painful metamorphosis rocks the theatre. Joseph Norton, as Horst, Max's concentration camp compatriot and spiritual lover, draws an equally poignant arc from hardened prisoner to vulnerable soul mate. There are a number of other solid supporting performances.
Anyone who believes that such inquisitions couldn't happen here ought to consider the facts that one actor who was cast for this show was not permitted to perform by his employer because of concerns over the content, that figures released this week by the Colorado Anti-Violence Program show an increase in attacks on young gays, and that local and national politicians continue to block gay rights. This is how it starts. Those of us who don't act against such policies, thinking we are safe, are mistaken if we think we will avoid persecution for our own variances from the party line.
Hunger Artists Ensemble Theatre's presentation of Bent, directed by Jeremy Cole, runs through May 10th at the Lida Project Theatre. 303-893-5438.