Pride Theater Festival


Chandler has a long tradition of developing innovative community arts programs, serving a diverse population. Within this tradition, Vermont Pride Theater aims to build bridges of understanding between LGBTQ Vermonters and families, friends, and communities. The plays presented, the conversations these generate, and the wide publicity given these in the written press as well as on radio and TV assist our society’s progress toward full acceptance of LGBTQ Vermonters, with life choices and challenges similar to those of straight Vermonters.

The civil unions debate in spring 2000 was extremely divisive in Central Vermont, with TAKE BACK VERMONT signs springing up all over the countryside and people presumed to be supporters of civil unions being cursed outside Town Meeting. In spring 2011, same-sex marriage conversations were again heating up anti-LGBTQ sentiment in Central Vermont. Pride Films and Plays’ Director David Zak of Chicago, who often vacationed in the Randolph area and was an admirer of Chandler’s historic Music Hall, suggested starting an LGBTQ-themed theater festival there. Deciding to present pride activities was risky for Chandler, which operates in a Town of Randolph building. There was Town Meeting testimony that with Chandler “going down the wrong road” Town funding should be cut off; also, some donors were lost. But that first summer’s festival, presenting staged readings directed by Mr. Zak, otherwise went off smoothly.

Over the last eight seasons Vermont Pride Theater has become a valued part of Chandler’s programming, with staged readings gradually being replaced by full productions and Mr. Zak gradually handing over the reins to directors from the area. Pride activities are something folks now highlight about Chandler programs. A respected community leader said last fall, “Pride theater is very important to this community. It shows LGBTQ folks as they really are, not as TV and movies picture them.” Another commented, “Before pride theater, my aunt and nephew were ‘in the closet’: I never talked about them to anyone. Now I speak of them with pride.”

This summer’s trio of plays at the 9th annual pride festival build toward this end.

Standing in This Place:  Growing Up LGBTQ in Vermont: Vermont is known as one of the most progressive states in the country, due largely to the decades-long struggle of the LGBTQ community and its allies. In this original Vermont Pride Theater commission conceived and written by Maura Campbell, a multi-generational ensemble of 15 Vermonters takes the stage to tell their own personal stories of the ground-shattering events of the past 30 years. They are Stacia Bullock (Rutland), Carolyn Campbell (Bethel), Grae Frechette (Northfield), Keith Goslant (Montpelier), Tim Grenon (Websterville), Mark Hackett (Brookfield), Josh Huffman (Randolph), Nancy Manney and Gail Shorey (formerly of Brandon), Rae Merrill (Brookfield), Madison Messier (Burlington), Middlebury Pratt (Williston), Chris Roberts (Barre), Howard Russell (Hinesburg), and Kim Ward (Montpelier). State Representative Bill Lippert makes a cameo appearance. Directed by Charlie McMeekin.
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All Together Now:  One morning the doorbell rings at the home of Paul and Adam and in walks 15-year old Fox, who tells them he is Paul’s son and wants to live with them. Arriving to share this news are Paul’s parents Jim and Dorothy, and Fox’s mother Julie. This life-changing moment touches Paul and Adam as they consider marriage, and Jim and Dorothy, who never expected to be grandparents. The cast includes guest actors from New York City. Written by Philip Middleton Williams, directed by Jarvis Green.
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A Late Snow: In Jane Chambers’ 1960’s play, closeted college professor Ellie finds herself snowbound in an isolated cabin with her first love, an ex-love, her current love, and a potential new love. Though written more than 50 years ago, A Late Snow remains relevant to modern audiences through its exploration of timeless themes of love, betrayal, and acceptance. Director Shannon Sanborn’s talented cast consists of Amy Elizabeth (Randolph), Ashley Hall (Warren), Andra Kisler (Northfield), Susan Loynd (Fayston), and Heather Pagel (Worcester).
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Each play will be presented each of the two performance weekends, July 26th-28th and Aug 2nd-4th. On the Wednesday between the two weekends, July 31st, there will be a free showing of the movie “Brokeback Mountain”. Any donations made at the door will be contributed to HIV/AIDS programs at Vermont CARES and the HIV/HCV Resource Center.


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Summer 2011 (staged readings)

The Boys in the Band, by Mart Crowley, directed by David Zak

The Times, by Mark Watson, directed by David Zak

Shelby’s Vacation, by Nancy Beverly, directed by David Zak


Summer 2012 (staged readings)

Still Fighting It, by Cassie Keets, directed by David Zak

The Homosexuals, by Phillip Dawkins, directed by David Zak

The Children’s Hour, by Lillian Hellman, by David Zak


Summer 2013 (2 full productions, 1 staged reading)

Gross Indecency, by Moises Kaufmann, directed by David Zak

Hannah Free, by Claudia Allen, directed by David Zak

Directions for Restoring the Apparently Dead, by Martin Casella, directed by David Zak

Upper Gallery photo/sound exhibit (Lovett/Sharrow): Drag Queens of Dummerston, Vermont


Summer 2014 (2 full productions, 1 staged reading)

Last Summer at Bluefish Cove, by Jane Chambers, directed by Jeanne Beckwith

The Little Dog Laughed, by Douglas Carter Beane, directed by Richard Waterhouse

Farm Boys, adapted from Will Fellows’ book by David Zak & directed by David Zak

Mid-week showing in Upper Gallery of “Laramie Project” film & staged reading of

Leslea Newman’s October Mourning, directed by Cher Laston, featuring RUHS teens

Downstairs Gallery exhibit of Andy Newman’s portraits & landscapes


Summer 2015 (2 full productions, 2 1-person shows)

Beautiful Thing, by Jonathan Harvey, directed by Cher Laston

Wild & Precious, written & performed by Steven Cadwell

The Kid Thing, by Sarah Gubbins, directed by Margo Whitcomb

Hick: A Love Story, written & performed by Terri Baum

Downstairs Gallery exhibit of Marie LaPre Grabon’s landscapes & collages


Summer 2016 (2 full productions, 2 1-person shows)

Raggedy And, by David Valdes Greenwood, directed by Joanne Greenberg

At the Flash, written & performed by D. Leeper & co-author Sean Chandler

Mama’s Girls, by Marilynn Barner Anselmi, directed by Cher Laston

Men on the Verge, by Guillermo Reyes, performed by Nelson Rodriguez


Summer 2017 (3 full productions)

Family Holiday, by DC Cathro, directed by Nancy Manney

Out of the Closet, shorts by eight authors, with several directors

Love Alone, by Deborah Salem Smith, directed by Margo Whitcomb


Summer 2018 (3 full productions)

A Perfect Fit, by Lia Romeo, directed by Cher Laston

Bright Half Life, by Tanya Barfield, directed by Kim Ward

Aunt Jack, by S. P. Monahan, directed by Gene Heinrich

Mid-week showing of “Philadelphia”, benefiting Vermont CARES & HIV/HCV Resource Center

Downstairs Gallery exhibit of LGBTQ-connected visual artist