Performance Schedule UPDATED

The other day I updated the performance schedule to include shows in Rochester, NY, Johnstown, PA, the Twin Cities, MN, and Canterbury, England. Currently I perform four different productions and do talks (and somehow I don’t mix them up).

I’m especially pleased they I was invited to give a plenary address at the Friends General Conference (Quaker). As a Quaker, I have presented more and more at Quaker venues the past two years although I mostly do non-Quaker gigs. I actually find some Quaker venues to be the most challenging for me. Most Quakers who have seen my work seem to get what I do and enjoy it, but I have had more offense from Quakers than from any other type of audience member. Some Quakers find comedy to be violent or get so caught up in words that they can miss the point.

Also, when I talk about LGBT issues, I have gotten a strange resistance among some liberal Quakers. They express sentiments like, “Oh, we don’t need that message. We have done a lot of work around this issue in our meeting. We passed a minute on same-sex partnerships back in 1984.”

The majority of these liberal Quaker meetings remain racially homogeneous (white), so issues of diversity come up around race a lot which is great and essential. I have learned much about skin privilege and racism through the working groups on these issues in our meetings.

But the largest minority population within our meetings are most likely the LGBT folks (or maybe those people with scent allergies :-). From talking with several of them, I know we have work to do in our meetings around heterosexism and even homophobia. But when the shields go up–We have already dealt with that stuff–then the meetings can grow stagnant with some people feeling silenced or marginalized.

All of this leaves me with questions about what I will present at FGC. Do I do a play? A talk? Let the silence speak for me? (The perfect Quaker cop out when all else fails). Talk about queer issues? Faith issues? Art? I know I will spend more time praying and prepping for this one talk than any other I will do this year.

While at FGC I will also co-facilitate a workshop for high schoolers,

Xtreme QuakerismRadical Faith for Mind, Body and Spirit
Peterson Toscano & Kri Burkander
This dynamic, interactive workshop will be an opportunity to deepen your faith, nurture your Spirit, share your heart, and get (re)energized to be a radical Quaker in the world. Through games, movement, worship, meditation, art, writing, drama, and much more, we’ll build a loving community and support each other in listening to the leadings in our lives that are calling our faith into action.

Although the workshop lasts for six days, I have a feeling it will be invigorating and centering for me (and hopefully for the other participants).

Other presentations in the works will be in other parts of England, Northern Ireland, Barcelona, Stockholm, and in the States in Illinois, Connecticut, Maryland and Arizona.

This post has 8 Comments

  1. Tom D. on March 14, 2008 at 2:58 am Reply

    I am sure you will figure out what to do/say/be for your Plenary, and it will be fabulous!

    (I saw your listing(s) in the FGC booklet when I got it this past week. I’m still trying to figure out if I will be able to be there or not. I love the Johnstown campus, and it was my first FGC, so I have a lot of fond memories of the place.)

  2. Daniel C on March 14, 2008 at 9:48 am Reply

    Did I read Stockholm? Then.. ONe fika coming right up!

  3. Peterson Toscano on March 14, 2008 at 10:03 am Reply

    fika? did i hear fika? daniel, look out of for me in late July.

    tom d. FGC without you is like FGC without soft serve ice cream.

  4. Tania on March 14, 2008 at 4:29 pm Reply

    I just wanted to say Peterson that you are such an inspiration to me. Thank you.

  5. Allison on March 14, 2008 at 5:33 pm Reply

    In our Meeting, I think there is a large queer population, which is great, but still is not so racially diverse. I wish it wasn’t an either-or thing, like “let’s fight homophobia OR racism” and instead challenge all status quo assumptions.

  6. Joe Moderate on March 14, 2008 at 6:55 pm Reply

    Hey Peterson, I just saw your pic and bio in the FGC brochures that were available at meeting this past week. Very cool! I was able to say, “hey, I know that guy!” and start sharing some fun stories.

    Perhaps your plenary should be geared towards address the very content of this post: stagnation on important issues like racism or LGBT issues. I myself attend an all-white meeting, and the racial homogeneity always feels a bit odd to me (since 45% of my coworkers are not white). I, for one, would love to hear the racial homogeneity issue discussed in Quaker circles.

    Stagnation on the LGBT issue could be interesting and fruitful as well. On that particular issue, however, I do not feel my local meeting has yet stagnated. It’s still something of a hot topic; our meeting has only recently begun blessing same-sex marriages–in fact, my wedding this coming June will only be their second same-sex wedding. So there’s still a healthy discussion about LGBT stuff, at least in our local meeting.

    I do know that LGBT stuff continues to be a hot topic among some yearly meetings. I think one of the Southern yearly meetings is presently splitting over it 🙁 It might be a very timely topic to discuss.

  7. da on March 14, 2008 at 8:15 pm Reply

    But when the shields go up–We have already dealt with that stuff–then the meetings can grow stagnant with some people feeling silenced or marginalized.

    Absolutely true. And lots of people don’t get that. At MWG there was a request from FGC’s Publication and Distributions Committee for FLGBTQC to provide feedback on a draft pamphlet that would be available to Meetings to show that they are welcoming to sexual and gender minorities; it wasn’t clear the P&D committee had gotten beyond a one-step “we’ve dealt with it” model.

    Business Meeting instructed our ad-hoc committee (which was struck to discuss the draft pamphlet) to discuss with FGC (as a whole) how we should proceed, as we want to encourage FGC in this work.

    I’m hopeful that your plenary will further open hearts and minds from where-ever we’re coming from, arriving at Gathering this Summer! Thanks.

  8. - sm on March 22, 2008 at 2:29 am Reply

    “tom d. FGC without you is like FGC without soft serve ice cream.”

    So true!!!

    Peterson: this is going to sound unbearably corny, but if you’re open to the Spirit that night, you’ll tell us exactly what we need to hear.

    Lots of love,
    Stasa

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