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Sound and Vision: Heartbreak and Identity

When it comes to wholly original and honest works for the stage, none do it better than 5 to 1 Theatre. With their third show on the Majestic stage, Sound and Vision, 5 to 1 Theatre has utilized their brand of stark honesty to bring the spotlight to a group of individuals who need it most – homeless transgender teens.

Sound and Vision will be finishing its run this upcoming weekend, March 11th and 12th at 8 pm and on March 13th at 5 pm. Tickets will be $12 for adults and $10 for students, members, and seniors. There will also be a special reading of the play on the Oregon State campus on March 10th at the Pride Center at 5 pm, which will feature a talkback with the cast and crew.

Sound and Vision follows the story of Kristin, a young transgender woman who is homeless. The story delves into her mind and each scene plays out as a memory of her life. We follow her life as she deals with the realities of living on the streets and with finding her identity as a person.

5 to 1 Theatre has been a resident company of the Majestic Theatre’s for just over a year now. In that time, they’ve put together three original plays (including Sound and Vision) that have captured younger audiences, told stories that otherwise go unnoticed, and brought smiles and tears to theatregoers. From the dawn of communism in Those Scary Reds to the dark side of religion with No Direction Home, 5 to 1 Theatre has consistently showcased their abilities to broach sensitive topics with strong, honest writing and amazing acting from their entire troupe. It should be no surprise then that Sound and Vision continues the trend.

We talked to both the director and one of the co-writers of the play about how it feels to bring such an important play to the stage.

Ricky Zipp, co-writer of Sound and Vision with Chris Peterman, spoke about the importance of these issues that the trans community faces but made sure to point out that the story isn’t solely about being transgender.

“First, I like to tell people that the main subject area or focus of this play is homeless transgender youth,” Zipp stated. “But, that is not the story and this is not what the play is about. The story focuses on one main character, Kristin, as they attempt to survive in the world of this play. The play takes you between the past, present and future of Kristin and shows how one individual grows as human in the face of struggle and a haunted past. This can be anything from drug addiction, child abuse, friendship, family, homelessness and yes the particular details and experiences that the trans community has to face. We did not want to write a show about someone’s “transformation” that is not a story and that can get you very close to tokenizing very real and important issues. We wanted the characters to be dynamic and complex as all humans are. Yes characters are transgender but no this is not their sole defining quality.”

Bryanna Rainwater, director of Sound and Vision, talked about the seriousness of the issues and story elements explored regardless of gender.

“It is important to tell this story because the themes we present are real issues,” Rainwater said. “Every day, there are people dealing with thoughts of suicide, feeling rejected because of their gender, addicted to drugs or are involved in prostitution just to get by. This is a fictionalized story with characters in real-life situations.”

With the difficult issues addressed in the play, Rainwater noted that most everyone can take something away from it, especially younger adults.

“This show is for anyone wanting to watch, however the audience that would most benefit from this story are ones like that characters on stage,” Rainwater explained. “Any young person trying to figure out life on their own will really resonate with this story.”

Zipp shared the same sentiment, stating that “this show should be seen by everyone.”

“We feel that this is a great show about important topics that everyone should tune in to,” Zipp continued. “That is the core of 5 to 1 not just this one show. Tell stories that we feel inspired by, that we see in our world and our culture but also ones that may not be told or are not getting attention for many different reasons. In our short little lifespan, we have been labeled “dark” or “controversial” but we just merely see this as us and don’t really think twice about it. Sound and Vision is unique because we wanted to write about characters around our age (twenties ish) taking place in 2016, concerning ideas and issues that are ongoing today. Our past shows have been current times told in a historical context and with this one, we thought it extremely important to tell this in present times. Because this is something that everyone is participating in whether they know it or not. This is going on in their community and I guarantee this is going on with other members of the audience regardless of the night that they see it.”

Zipp finished out with a reflection on writing the play and how it personally resonated with him and his troupe.

“We feel that, almost more than any other play, this one is our most personal and is the one we connect with the most,” Zipp said. “Chris and I wrote it because we have either personally experienced these ideas or have very close people in our lives that we care very much about who have. And I think people hear “transgender” and completely disconnect. This is something that very close members of our friend group or family have experience with. But, as I said before, there is so much more going on. Like drugs and homelessness and violence and abuse that hits very close to home to both of us personally as well as other members of our group and members of the cast who connect personally with the script. Even as I am writing this on Final Dress, we’re still talking about how hard this hits home and how much we love this story. And that’s why you want to tell the story. Because it’s important, because we care about it as a group and because when we look around at the world, not just the theatre community, we don’t see anyone else telling these stories.”

Through communication and input from members of the LGBTQ+ community and 5 to 1 Theatre’s consistently heartfelt and honest scripts, Sound and Vision is a show of great importance that deserves the eyes and attention of the greater Corvallis community. The subject matter of this play can end up ignored in other venues and glossed over by mainstream media, so when it is given the spotlight and when it is treated with the respect it deserves, support should be sent its way. So come out and support local arts, be informed about the issues facing the trans community, and support the Majestic!


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