February 8, 2022

SSU’s THE THING THEY LOVE to Explore Queerness in 1920s NYC

by Felicia Cheney

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Salem State Theatre Department presents the world premiere of The Thing They Love written by 2021 graduate Parker Goodreau. Directed by Esme Allen, the production will take place at the Sophia Gordon Center March 3 – 6, followed by virtual streaming March 20 – April 30. Tickets for both performance modalities are available at www.salemstatetickets.com

Set in prohibition-era New York City, a big, queer family assembles with familiar yet complicated problems. They must navigate the difference between the world they love, and the world outside their doorstep by learning how to protect each other. Ultimately the consequences of deception puts their family, old and new, in jeopardy. Director Esme Allen says, “to me this play is about people figuring out how to be themselves and find family and community amidst a world of fear, uncertainty, and condemnation. In addition to these outward obstacles…the play is also about how we grapple with our own inner hang ups and demons. The play addresses themes of gender identity, sexuality and socio-economic disparity. It also casts a spotlight on a rich time in New York City history where an underground queer community was thriving, even amidst the obstacles.” 

The Thing They Love explores the representation of sexuality and gender, and as the playwright Parker Goodreau describes, “the double-lives many queer people across time have adopted in order to survive.” The play draws inspiration from Mae West’s 1927 play The Drag, which landed West and her collaborators in court on a moral indecency charge before the production ever opened. Goodreau says, “…gender non-conforming fashion has helped me define my sense of self as a nonbinary person, and I have always had a fascination with the art of drag. I am also interested in the history of the queer community: stories which we can now uncover, explore, and celebrate, however ambiguous the restrictions of the past may leave them.” 

Goodreau graduated from Salem State with a BFA in theatre and a concentration in playwriting and a minor in English. They were the first graduate of the playwriting program which was established in 2018. This production marks the first time Salem State theatre has presented a fully staged production with a script by one of its graduates. 

The content of this show is for mature audiences and is not suitable for young children. 

About the Center for Creative and Performing Arts 

Salem State’s Center for Creative and Performing Arts (CCPA) provides the arts explorer a singular destination to experience world-class guest artists and award-winning student and faculty performances in dance, music and theatre as well as art exhibitions and spoken word events. The CCPA is committed to providing diverse, inclusive and affordable arts experiences to the communities on Boston’s north shore. Visit https://salemstate.edu/arts for calendar information. 

About Salem State University 

Salem State University, established in 1854, is a comprehensive, public institution of higher learning located approximately 15 miles north of Boston, Massachusetts. One of the largest state universities in the Commonwealth, Salem State enrolls about 7,000 undergraduate and graduate students. It offers 32 undergraduate programs and graduate programs that offer degrees in 24 fields. The university also has a continuing education division that offers both credit and non-credit programs. Known for the academic strength of its faculty, Salem State was named a Top Producer of U.S. Fulbright Scholars in 2011 and for the 2016-2017 academic year. The university is designated a Top College and University by Military Advanced Education and a Best for Vets College by Military Times. Salem State proudly participates in the National Study of Learning, Voting, and Engagement and has shown a student voting rate well above the national average, earning the university a gold seal from the ALL IN Campus Democracy Challenge. 

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