Thursday, August 15, 2002
Steamboat Springs Director Nina Rogers asked herself an interesting question before she decided to cast two women as a once-married couple, introducing a same-sex marriage situation into the comedy play "Marriage is Murder": "Is Steamboat ready for this?"
Her main concern was a lack of attendance of the play because of the lesbian relationship presented.
"Marriage is Murder" is a delightfully amusing story of a divorced couple reconsidering their feelings about each other, all with a murderous twist. It was written for a man and a woman, but casting issues led Rogers to give the roles to two local women.
Of course Steamboat is ready for this, I thought. Who cares? But when I started thinking about it, I realized why the question had to at least be considered.
Despite the fact same-sex relationships tend to be accepted in the mainstream (there's television sitcoms based around homosexual lifestyles) and many people accept the lifestyle as normal, it still broaches being taboo.
If you don't agree, just look at the law. Colorado marriage law has always referred to only a man and woman couple but never specifically excluded gay couples. That changed in April 2000, when Gov. Owens signed a Senate bill that specifically banned same-sex marriages.
This is not rare. Same-sex marriages aren't legally recognized anywhere in the United States. Plus, 35 states have specifically banned same-sex marriage, similar to Colorado, according to the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. That means if the fictitious story line in the play were real, the characters would technically have to be from the Netherlands, the only place in the world that recognizes gay marriages at least in the legal sense of the word.
Rogers never intended the play to be a social commentary. Instead, it was an example of what happens with theater in a small community pursuing the best actors for the roles. However, there is a social commentary here when you look at the facts, whether intended or not.
After I saw a full rehearsal of the play, I was under the opinion that it might be better with two women. The characters are believable, which is a commentary in itself if you think about it. I'm sure attendance to the play, which opens tonight, will be normal to give my answer to Rogers' question. She thought so, too.