The first-ever PennULTRA performance is evidence of Penn’s status as the most gay-friendly school in the Ivy League.
In Uniting LGTBQ Penn Through Radical Art’s (ULTRA) inaugural event on Dec. 9 at the Platt Performing Arts House, sexual identity was explored through 12 monologues.
Each actor and actress walked on stage as a model-of-the-month in a calendar, posed for pictures and then proceeded to discuss sexuality in the form of one-person acts.
The scenes included idolizing a lesbian nurse, reading an erotic poem, living with strict immigrant parents and recounting the plight of a bisexual athlete.
The event was a long time coming for Miss May and College senior Elisa Asencio, who had hoped to see a gay arts performance take shape for a while. Once things began to fall into place this semester, she said, the group started writing, practicing and meeting once a week.
“There was a big variety in this show,” Asencio said. “Some of the monologues were very personal and real, while [other] actors felt uncomfortable telling their own stories.”
There were two monologues that were clearly the most well-received. The first, Mr. July, dressed up as a fairy — a good amount of makeup and rhinestones on his face — and told the classic fairy tale of the Sleeping Beauty.
However, a handsome gentleman did not awake the protagonist. In fact, it was revealed that the Sleeping Beauty was a lesbian, whose female lover ended up saving the day.
The other popular scene came directly after. The actress, Miss August, explained to the audience “tips to outing friends on Facebook” —figuring out whether someone is gay or straight.
Included were obvious means, like looking at relationship statuses, but the actress also discussed more creative strategies, like checking to see if the friend was in gay groups or attended gay events.
PennULTRA’s first performance showcased the diversity within Penn’s LGBTQ community. Nursing freshman Amanda Berman felt that the ULTRA event “reiterated the fact that any member of the Penn community [could] be … LGTBQ.”
“The show was hilarious, meaningful and had a good message,” Wharton freshman Christian Cortes said. “I hope [ULTRA] does more of these.”
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