What's it about?
Straight is a play about a man cheating on his girlfriend of five years with a male college student. "Ben likes beer, sports, and Emily. And Chris."
What'd I experience?
I arrived at Theatre Row where they had a whole bunch of theatres on different floors showcasing different plays. Straight was in the Acorn Theatre. I was a tad early so I got my ticket and went for a stroll with 45 minutes to spare. I have never felt more awake. I looked up at the city and its inhabitants and I lived every moment of it. I noticed the new Sleepy's by the Chipotle on 9th and 44th. I noticed people's hurried strides and faces buried in phones. I noticed the Theatre Row Diner had 10% off if you had shown your ticket... I had French Onion soup.
Ten minutes before show time I started heading to the theatre. "Jazmin!!" wtf again. lowkey hype I’m able to see this much theatre. :) A teaching artist I worked with stopped me. I really wanted to get to my seat so I said "see you inside" not even thinking about how many theatres were inside this building... Ironically, we went to the same show. I was seat b5. She was a3. The usher guided me to my seat saying, “Straight will be 90 minutes straight, no intermission.” LOL PUN.
The setting was so detailed, I felt at home. So natural. The stage had been transformed into a twenty six year old banker’s living room. Ben was clearly a sports fan, evident in his room decor complete with frames, blankets, and flags. Black out. Lights up. Ben awkwardly sits next to Chris and hits him with the “Soooo….”. Netlfix and chill translates to beer, sports and chill and soon enough Ben and Chris are making out. Blackout. It’s like that awkward moment you go over to someone’s house knowing what’s going down but you try to act casual inside like your not about to get violated.
Emily, his girlfriend of five years, then kisses him. It was nasty. Not because of dick breath lol, but nasty because he was cheating on her and he felt uncomfortable to tell her how or why. It is disgusting that someone should feel that they have to hide a piece of themselves because it's not the social norm. It made me uncomfortable because he wasn’t cheating on her because he didn’t love her it’s just he didn’t know how she would react. If he were to fess up to the cheating she would ask who and he wasn’t sure if he was ready to deal with that.
Ben explains he doesn't want to come out because it becomes who you are, it is not just a piece of you. It controls you and defines you according to the people around you. “You are no longer Chris. You are no longer Chris who likes sports or Chris who likes scary movies. You are gay Chris” yoooooo that's so crazy because it really happens like that at times. It’s weird because you are gay Chris but you also are Chris who likes sports… So who decides how we are labeled? And then, if we want to take away labels, then you’re just Chris. But Chris in itself is a label, it’s a name. A form of identification. But there are millions of other people with your name... so is that a proper identification? Who are you? Jazmin. A Follower of Jesus. An Actress. A woman. A latina… who are you? Are you your name or is your name you?
He explained people are terrified, not happy when people come out of the closet which is why they say you are so brave. As if being yourself is terrifying. wow. He said people are only happy for you if it’s a movie star coming out that’s gay. Automatically Caitlyn Jenner came to mind when he spoke on celebrities and being brave because, as you probably know, Caitlyn was given a bravery award...
“Everyone wants a gay friend no one wants a gay kid.” It honestly reminded me of the world in general. We all want to seem so diverse and accepting but inside we can be so closed minded. We all want black friends but no one wants to marry a black person and have a black child and deal with the black problems personally. We just keep them around to seem like we care. I don’t even know how to put it into tangible words but it makes sense to me. Like everyone wants Latina curls but no one wants to be followed when they walk through stores. It’s all cool till it gets personal. It’s all cool to know an oppressed minority until it’s your daughter… “No one gives you a cake though,” Chris later explains coming out to his roommate. It wasn’t as big of a deal that the celebrities get because he’s just Chris.
Emily always asked “did you eat? … are you hungry?” Honestly that's the most accurate way to show you love someone. Food is LIFE. That's how I try to show my boyfriend I like him. It's more than just "are you hungry?" It's like babe did you perform a necessary bodily functions to live? No, let me be there for you and provide for you and make sure you're healthy. But like everything else that was questioned in this play: What is love??
Ben was about to break up with Emily and she felt it coming. She said "what's wrong? I love you and you love me." I knew the situation all too well. Love ain't shit. Love is everything and nothing. I've been quoting this since my 8th grade high school auditions. In Nuts by Tom Topor, Claudia's mom let her stepdad rape her but she never denied that her mother loved her. "You know one thing you learn when you grow up is that love is not enough. Love is too much and not enough." I've lived that phrase many different times theatrically but I only grasped it in real life just last year. LOVE IS TOO MUCH AND NOT ENOUGH. Love is too much to let Emily go but not enough to stop cheating on her with Chris. Love was too much for him to let me go but not enough for him to stay faithful... Love is relative. Love is not enough. You can love someone all you want, it doesn't mean that you will give them the best they deserve… People Love God and still sin so is it fair to say he doesn’t love you if he cheats?
"If you move in with Jennifer, I don't fit," says Chris. Ben was debating moving in with Emily which means Chris could no longer sleep over Ben's house. This is a choice we are all familiar with. How do we make things work with friends, family, and lovers while keeping our best interest in mind. It's hard to do because in reality, you're the only one who's gonna last and everyone else is usually temporary. So why make decisions based on others, right? But God forbid, I want to drop everything and move to London, I’m coldhearted because I have all these people that care about me. Well they care about me for now. I don’t know when they will turn their backs on me. I, on the other hand, have an infinite inseparable love for myself. What if Ben were to say no to moving in with Emily and then Chris just decides to up and leave…. Now he’s stuck with another 2 year lease and only gets to see his girlfriend 3 times a week.
I left the theatre and took out a slip that was in my playbill that said "I label myself..." It said to tag yourself with a word you are MOST proud of. Honestly, I'm proud of everything I am and everything I am becoming. I cannot consolidate my whole life's lessons and experiences into one word. So I wasn't going to label myself. I am proud of every piece of me. If I wasn't that piece, I wouldn't be the complete puzzle I am.