"The David Dance": Don Scime�s play (and now a film) about 'unchosen' family responsibility for a gay man
Name:The David Dance
Author: Don Scime
Released: stage play, 2003
Format: stage play: legitimate
When and how viewed: At Trumpet Vine Theater in Arlington VA in May 2006, directed by Vincent Worthington, 125 minutes + 15 min intermission
The play The David Dance really goes into the philosophical innards of the cultural wars like few dramas do, and with quite a lot of didactic brilliance. At the same time, it is compelling, largely because the protagonist, David, comes off as such a strong thirty-something adult male lead. The play, even on stage, moves around. It is easy to imagine it as a film, with winter locations around Buffalo, NY and then the sugar cane country in Brazil.
There is a set up. David Patrone (Don Scime) is a gay radio talk show host, and he gets into a midnight 'graveyard shift' debate with syndicated religious right host June Handley (Anne Paine West). She seems to be pummeling him down, not so much with the Biblical passages (he can answer those, with David and Jonathan and Ruth and Naomi) but with the cultural thing, that complementarity and 'legacy'- based heterosexuality is the proper way to' getting in to taking care of people (this is essentially the Vatican's philosophy). But David's older sister Kate (Liesyl Franz) has decided to adopt an orphan from a convent in Brazil as a single parent. Now many states actually encourage adoption by single parents because the need is so great and in practice there is a shortage of heterosexually married potential parents for minority babies. Kate is a financial professional and wants to fulfill her life before it is too late. When she goes down to Brazil she is killed in a plane crash. She has suggested that David share the parenting, at least as an uncle or perhaps an attending godparent. In the mean time, David has paid visits to a Catholic hospital and had some practice holding infants that poop. (I am reminded by all this - the nun is played by Ms. West - of the epic film 'The Nun's Story).' I think we know that the flow of the play will demand that he take on the responsibility of becoming a parent. It is not really a totally voluntary choice, and that is a point that has profound political and ethical implications to think about. The young playwright obviously wants us to get this. In the soap opera 'Days of our Lives' the gay character Sonny delivers Gabby's baby in the woods when they are running from a villain, and later Sonny becomes a second dad (although tragedy follows in that soap).
There is a lot of other material in the play, in which events are sometimes present out of time sequence or as flashbacks. His show is threatened with ratings cancellation - a common issue in talk radio. (This reminds me of a talk radio program by gay host Scott Peck in Washington in 1993, during the gays in the military debate - his dad was a Marine colonel who outed him before Congress - and Scott's show lasted about ten months; his book, published by Scribner in 1995, was All American Boy. His boyfriend Chris (Jon Heffner) keeps him going, as does the sister, who in one touching scene finds him outdoors partially 'opened up' and gaybashed. Kate has sent her piano to Brazil, so that the girl learns to play, especially music by Schumann, as in the 'Album for the Young.'
The play has been made into a film directed by April Winney (from Brave Lad Films), and it was shown in the Northern Virginia International Film and Music Festival on April 25, 2016. Unfortunately, I missed the performance. I'll watch it online, on a DVD or in a theater as soon as it is available.
(Originally published: Wednesday, May 4, 2016 at 6 PM EDT)