This year I’m launching The Unknown Play Project, a documentary film project looking at some of the stories behind the changes happening in spaces where lesbians and queer women have been gathering to socialize and organize for the past few decades. Despite numerous political gains for LGBTQ individuals in the US over the past 20 years, many spaces where lesbians gather are fading out, struggling financially, or embroiled in conflict. This documentary will try to understand why that’s happening.
In 2012 I wrote a play titled Unknown that was inspired by the 40-year-old Lesbian Herstory Archives in Brooklyn, NY. It offers a portrait of a small community of lesbians that spans four generations, and it explores some of the different ways the seven women in it relate to the term “lesbian” and also to a fictional version of the Archives. When I did the first public reading of the play, I chose to do it at the Archives and, rather than bring in professional actors and a director, I asked members of the community to read the work aloud. That experience and the conversations that followed it are what gave rise to this project.
At each stop along the journey we’ll not only talk with the people we meet at these spaces, as well as some people who no longer spend time in them, we’ll also host community-based readings of the play Unknown.