When you love someone so much it literally hurts you, what will you decide to do next? She’Baltimore, a new play centered on domestic violence in the LGBT community, addresses this and several other questions.
Director Ira Kip, a Caribbean New Yorker by way of Amsterdam, debuts her writing talents in a Baltimore love story turned violent. After receiving great reviews in Amsterdam, She’Baltimore is making its American debut right here in Charm City.
This play “addresses the American social system and its relationship with communities that are often abstracted from proper care due to orientation, socioeconomic circumstances, and at times, discrimination,” said Kip.
“Baltimore audiences will definitely appreciate this,” said producer Nicol Moeller who has been involved with the play from the beginning. “It has the potential to bring together communities that don’t always interact.” She explained that the diversity of the cast, the LGBT subject matter, and the theatrical production itself will attract people from different communities.
Ebone (Sarah Ellen Stephens), a boxer, and Linay (Taisha Cameron), a school teacher, have been living and loving together in the city for quite some time. While relations might seem smooth at first, they quickly turn rocky when unhealed wounds are revealed. One late night when Linay ends up in the emergency room, the nurse on duty begins the standard medical abuse assessment questionnaire. “Question #1: Are you in a relationship in which you have been physically hurt or threatened by your partner?” When Linay responds to the subsequent questions with “she,” the nurse is at first dismissive, and eventually instructs Linay to contact the police because she was in a “fight with a girl” and that is an assault charge not domestic abuse. She is administered no further care.
This play highlights the “undercurrent of violence” that is occurring on a global scale; Moeller has been contacted by people as far as Australia and Puerto Rico offering their stories in reaction to the production.
“People would be ignorant to think this is not happening just because no one’s talking about it,” she said.
On Valentine’s Day, February 14, Kip and Moeller are hosting a benefit to raise awareness about this issue. The “Free Love Benefit” will showcase a portion of the play and raise money for The House of Ruth, a domestic violence shelter for battered women and their children.
“This will be an evening out to celebrate love and partnership,” said Moeller. “We’re promoting love while raising money for a good cause.” The benefit will include music and dancing, food and drinks, plus an auction and a chance to win two Jet Blue tickets.
The play runs from February 17 to February 26. There will be open discussion with the cast, the audience, and special guests following each performance. Discount rates are available to students, LGBT organizations, and non-violence support groups. Student rush tickets are also available at the box office one hour prior to each show.
The show’s title, She’Baltimore, is inspired by the writer’s love of hip hop and use of “Bawlmerese” (Baltimore dialect).
“If Baltimore was a lady, its personality would be embodied by Ebone and Linay. Beautiful, painful, cultural, diverse, and RAW,” said Kip.
Free Love Benefit: Feb. 14 • 8pm • $20
Play: Feb. 17- 26 • 8pm • $10-20
Loads of Fun Theater (LOF/t) • 120 W. North Ave.
LoadOfFun.net • SheBaltimore.Tumblr.com/tickets