2016 True West Award: After Orlando

True West Awards After Orlando


Day 3: After Orlando, Benchmark Theatre

    Presented by Colorado Theatre Guild Life Achievement winner Billie McBride


The worst gun massacre in U.S. history left the gay community feeling not just vulnerable.


The terrorist may have thought leaving 102 dead or injured, most gay and/or Latino, on the floor of the Pulse nightclub would send “others” of all kinds back into hiding. He knows not artists, who realize full well that it is never more urgent than in the wake of tragedy for the raging and waging of peace in the world through art. As the Russian actor Vsevolod Meyerhold once said: “I want to burn with the spirit of the times.”

The international theatre community continues to mark the Florida massacre with “After Orlando,” an ongoing series of gatherings in cities around the world to remember the victims; to start a dialogue on how mass gun violence has become so commonplace America; and to prove yet again the enormous role that live theatre can play in communal grief and transformation. 

More than 50 “After Orlando” events around the U.S. began on Sept. 12 and will continue through Jan. 31. Each consists of a series of short readings of plays from among more than 70 contributed by celebrated playwrights for the project. In most cities, one local theatre company has hosted an “After Orlando” event on behalf of that city’s entire theatre community.

Our NewsCenter report on Denver’s ‘After Orlando’ event

The Denver gathering on Nov. 14-15 was different. The new Benchmark Theatre Company, which doesn’t even debut until next year, presented Denver’s “After Orlando” event as an opportunity to collaborate with local companies from Boulder to Colorado Springs. Participating companies included the Athena Project, Boulder Ensemble Theatre Company, Buntport Theater, Curious Theatre, Edge Theatre, Local Theatre Company, Phamaly Theatre Company, Funky Little Theatre Company (Colorado Springs) and Vintage, with a special appearance by The Denver Gay Men’s Chorus. Dozens of local actors donated their time to participate in the readings.

Benchmark not only gathered the community for a common cause on two sold-out nights at the Vintage Theatre, it raised $2,000 for the Human Rights Campaign. Benchmark is co-founded by Rachel Bouchard and Haley Johnson, and its “After Orlando” event was primarily organized by Denver School of the Arts Youth Facilitator Kate Folkins and playwright Jeffrey Neuman (Edge Theatre’s Exit Strategies).

More Colorado theatre coverage on the DCPA NewsCenter

“We are humbled not only at the turnout of audiences who came to support this cause, but also the turnout of artists who volunteered their time and talents,” said Johnson. “Because of them, we’ve contributed to an organization that fights for equality and human rights. That is what art is all about – coming together as one to raise each other up.”

The national curators of “After Orlando” are New York’s Missing Bolts Productions artistic directors Blair Baker and Zac Kline; and NoPassport Theatre Alliance founder Caridad Svich, whose English translation of The House of the Spirits was premiered by the DCPA Theatre Company in 2010. The point of “After Orlando,” Svich said, is “to make some healing art, some fiery art, and some work that just says we can rise up from and through collective mourning.”

After Orlando Benchmark Theatre True West Awards



The True West Awards, now in their 16th year, began as the Denver Post Ovation Awards in 2001. DCPA Senior Arts Journalist John Moore — along with additional voices from around the state — celebrate the entire local theatre community by recognizing 30 achievements from 2016 over 30 days, without categories or nominations. Moore was named one of the 12 most influential theater critics in the U.S by American Theatre Magazine in 2011. He has since taken a groundbreaking position as the Denver Center’s Senior Arts Journalist. His daily coverage of the DCPA and the Colorado theatre community can be found at MyDenverCenter.Org

Day 1: Jada Suzanne Dixon
Day 2: Robert Michael Sanders
Day 3: After Orlando
Day 4: Michael Morgan
Day 5: Beth Beyer
Day 6: Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski
Day 7: donnie l. betts
Day 8: Night of the Living Dead
Day 9: The Killer Kids of Miscast
Day 10: Jason Sherwood
Day 11: Leslie O’Carroll and Steve Wilson
Day 12: Jonathan Scott-McKean
Day 13: Jake Mendes
Day 14: Charles R. MacLeod
Day 15: Patty Yaconis
Day 16: Daniel Langhoff
Day 17: Colorado Shakespeare Festival costumers
Day 18: Miriam Suzanne
Day 19: Yolanda Ortega
Day 20: Diana Ben-Kiki
Day 21: Jeff Neuman
Day 22: Gabriella Cavallero
Day 23: Matthew Campbell
Day 24: Sharon Kay White
Day 25: John Hauser
Day 26: Lon Winston
Day 27: Jason Ducat
Day 28: Sam Gregory
Day 29: Warren Sherrill
Day 30: The Women Who Run Theatre in Boulder
Theatre Person of the Year Billie McBride

After Orlando in Denver: Our photo gallery:

After Orlando: Denver

To see more, click the forward arrow on the image above. Photos by John Moore for the DCPA NewsCenter. Photos in the award certificate at the top of this page by Susannah McLeod for McLeod9 Creative.

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