Welcome to our Featured Play Spotlight. Completely, Absolutely Normal: Vignettes About LGBTQ+ Teens by Bradley Walton is a collection of ten interconnected vignettes with LGBTQ+ themes that are unified by the emotion and humanity found in anyone who is completely, absolutely normal.
A girl’s big moment of coming out takes an unexpected turn. High school sweethearts holding hands in public for the first time are greeted by hatred. A transgender teen struggles with an unaccepting best friend.
Why did we publish this play?
This play is about human contact and showing that all human contact is normal. As we see this concept being challenged and legislated against, it’s important to take a stand and provide a voice for students. All students.
1. Why did you write this play?
When I started writing this play, I didn’t know it was going to become “this play.” It began as a monologue about a teenager coming out at their dad’s grave. That monologue gave way to a second vignette, and then a third, and…you get the idea. Now, as to why I wrote this play after I knew that this play was turning into “this play”… I wanted to show that human emotion is universal regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
2. Describe the theme in one or two sentences.
LGBTQ+ teens are completely, absolutely normal.
3. What’s the most important visual for you in this play?
The visual simplicity of the play as a whole is very important for me. It’s a bare stage show. There’s no fancy lighting. It’s stripped-down and intimate, with all of the emphasis on character and emotion.
4. If you could give one piece of advice for those producing the play, what would it be?
Include questions in the audition paperwork to find out what students are comfortable and not comfortable portraying onstage—ask if they’re okay with doing a same-sex kiss, and find out if there are roles they don’t want to play. Don’t ask for explanations, and respect their answers.
5. Why is this play great for student performers?
It is bursting at the seams with great acting opportunities featuring characters with complex emotions.
6. Do you have any advice for people looking to perform this play online or socially distanced?
The play has ten scenes. Five of them are monologues and the other five have two characters. Socially distanced performance shouldn’t be a huge issue for 90% of the show, but the scene “Brave” is specifically about a couple holding hands and kissing. In light of the current pandemic, I think the hand-holding could be mimed, and I would be okay if the kiss was omitted (the end of the scene wouldn’t be as powerful, but the dialogue would still make sense). I could also see the show being performed like a staged reading, with the two-person scenes performed by students on opposite sides of the stage delivering their dialogue directly out to the audience.
I have a hard time imagining the play being done online. I feel like it demands a level of connectivity with the audience best achieved through in-person performance. A staged reading-style approach might work. But with that being said, if someone has a vision for an online production that they think would be fabulous…go for it. Just keep that sense of audience connection at the front of your mind.