Support Our Schools Now!

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Right now, Utah students are learning with fewer resources than ever. This results in burdensome classroom sizes, stagnant student learning and most importantly, reduced opportunities for our children.  Utah can do better, and we must. 

This year, Utahns will have the choice to increase Utah’s education funding to an adequate level by voting YES on nonbonding option question 1.

Our Schools Now:

  • Calls for a 10 cent increase in the state gas tax
  • Allocates each Utah school an additional $150 per enrolled student
  • Empowers local parents, teachers and principals to make investment decisions that are best for students of each school
  • Requires funding to be invested in ways that improve student achievement
  • Measures student progress annually to ensure proper uses of funding
  • Prepares students for tomorrow’s opportunities by providing high-quality education

And How will this help Utah Students?

Tami and I are proud to be part of the vast list of supporters of Our Schools Now.  I hope you’ll join us by voting YES on nonbonding option question 1!

Peace and Possibility Project supports And Justice for All in 2018

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And Justice for All (AJFA) is a nonprofit created in 1998 by Utah’s primary providers of civil legal services – Disability Law Center, Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake and Utah Legal Services. Despite having differing missions, these three agencies shared a common vision of creating equal access to our system of justice in Utah. 

Tami and I are so pleased to support AJFA and recently attended their Justice Rising Breakfast where AJFA recognized the incredible work done by the long-time Executive Director, Kai Wilson.  The work being done by AJFA is changing lives and changing laws.  Here is just one of AJFA’s client success stories:  

Bill and Jim had been living together for six months when they got into an argument. When Bill tried to leave the room and go to bed, Jim physically assaulted him—punching him in the face, scratching and biting him and preventing him from leaving. A neighbor heard the commotion and came to see what was going on. When Jim tried to attack Bill again, the neighbor stood between them. Jim was then asked to leave, but when going, he lunged at Bill again and they both fell down the stairs. Bill called police and they responded with a victim advocate. Although Bill had serious physical injuries, Jim was not arrested, but simply asked to leave the residence. Bill did not feel safe. The victim advocate referred Bill to Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake for a protective order.  Bill went to the courthouse and met with a Legal Aid paralegal, who conducted an intake interview, had the case reviewed and approved by an attorney, and filed a protective order for Bill. Legal Aid Society’s attorney represented Bill at the protective order hearing which Jim contested. After presenting argument and the police report, the protective order was granted. 

The partnership between the three individual organizations provides a stable and consistent source of legal services for those who cannot afford legal representation because of disability, poverty, age, migrant status, or race.  For the last 15 years, Kai Wilson has lead the organization, and was recognized at the Justice Rising Breakfast.  Kai has grown the capacity and size of AJFA and built the organization up to be successful and really give legal aid to those that need it most. As noted by Legal Aid Director Stewart Ralphs in his tribute to Kai, "Kai is unsurpassed in his ability to bring people and organizations together to make the most meaningful impacts possible."

The Peace and Possibility Project is pleased to support And Justice for All with a significant gift for 2018.  To find out more about the important work that And Justice for All is doing, please visit: http://andjusticeforall.org

The National Center for Lesbian Rights, Kate Kendell, and The Audacity to Fight for Justice.

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My wife, Tami, and I were fortunate to be in San Francisco for the 41st anniversary celebration of the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR).   Along with celebrating NCLR’s work, the 2,000 plus people gathered at the Palace of Fine Arts were honoring my long-term friend Kate (Kathy) Kendell as she retires at the end of 2018 from 22 years of being the Executive Director of NCLR.   Along with tributes to Kate, the program gave special honors to the two plaintiffs in Doe vs. Trump, the NCLR lawsuit challenging President Trump’s ban on transgendered people serving in the military.  Listening to these two individuals (ages 20 and 22) address the crowd, I was inspired and realized that we really are now living in a world that Kate Kendell helped create. 

Reflecting back 40 years, when I was about the age of these plaintiffs, I remember my first contact w/ NCLR. The organization was founded in 1977, the same year I graduated from law school.  In 1979, I attended a “Women in the Law” conference in San Antonio.  There were at least a hundred seminars to choose from during the three day gathering. I noticed there were a few put on by some women affiliated with an organization out of San Francisco called “the Lesbian Rights Project” (predecessor to NCLR).  I was intrigued, even though at the time I was married to a man and had no clear understanding yet that I was gay.  I snuck into two of the meetings (“snuck” because I didn’t want my other female lawyer colleagues from Utah to realize where I was going).   I was awestruck listening to these strong women (who included Donna Hitchens and Roberta Achtenberg, two of the original founders of NCLR) talking about lesbian mothers and custody rights.   To my naive mind, it hadn’t even occurred to me that lesbians would want to have children, nor that they would ever have any custody rights in a contested divorce action.  

Skip ahead a few years to the early 1980s, and I had gotten divorced from the man, fallen in love with a woman, and met Kathy Kendell through some mutual friends who were part of a National Organization for Women (NOW) group in Ogden, Utah - the town where I lived and practiced law.  Kathy was a college student.  She was a star on the college debate team and I knew she had the potential to be a great lawyer.  Never did I imagine she would become THE lawyer for lesbians (and other sorts of LGBTQ people) everywhere.   

Move up another decade to the early 1990s, and Kathy and I were both testing our wings in Utah as “out” lesbian attorneys.  We both spoke at a conference at the University of Utah.  For me, it was one of the first times I had been willing to be openly identified as a lesbian in a crowd of strangers. When our remarks were covered by our hometown newspaper, the Ogden Standard Examiner, I nervously read the article, wondering what my father and clients would say about this. To my great delight,  while the article mentioned both our names, the only photo it ran was Kathy’s.  Whew - I had eased gently into the public identification experience. And typical of Kathy, she’s been paving the way for me ever since.   

Fast forward again to February 2004, the “winter of love.”  Mayor Gavin Newsom had started allowing same sex marriages in San Francisco.   Kathy - now Kate - was right in the thick of it. Not only did we appreciate her professional advocacy, we appreciated her personal support when she encouraged Tami (my partner and finally legal wife, see Why I’ve Been Married 8 Times – Lauren, can you insert hyperlink to Huff Post article here?) and me to fly to San Francisco. She met us at the courthouse and she and Sandy, her partner (now wife) were going to be our witnesses.  We ended up having to stand in line all day, and they had jobs to get to, so we missed out on actually having them be present at our ceremony. However, we got to trade phone calls all day long about life in the line, our chances of getting through the door to the clerk’s office that day, etc.   

Throughout the many ups and downs of the national fight for gay civil equality, I’ve been lucky to call her my friend.  Since meeting in the early 80s, we’ve each experienced our own share of break-ups, deaths of parents, deaths of friends, weddings of friends, and the joy of children and grandchildren.   While she is known around the country for her groundbreaking civil rights work, she is known to me as a dear friend of close to four decades.  And while I was initially her mentor, she soon surpassed me - illustrating the power of every educator’s goal: “the student becomes the teacher.”

The depth and breadth of Kate’s teaching was evident as she closed out the evening at the 41st annual NCLR celebration.   Noting that the current administration’s policies have taken the country to a new state of division and fragility, she reminded the crowd that they hold the key to moving forward.  “We, the LGBTQ community, know what it is like to have and stay in difficult conversations.   We discuss, we learn, we educate, and we lead. We are the ones who can make the difference.”         

Plan-B receives 9th NEA Grant in 10 years!

Plan-B to Receive $10,000 Art Works Grantfrom the National Endowment for the Arts

National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Jane Chu has approved more than $80 million in grants as part of the NEA’s second major funding announcement for fiscal year 2018. Included in this announcement is an Art Works grant of $10,000 to Plan-B Theatre Company for the world premiere of ZOMBIE THOUGHTS by Jennifer A. Kokai & her 11-year-old son Oliver Kokai-Means. ZOMBIE THOUGHTS is Plan-B’s sixth annual Free Elementary School Tour and the fourth consecutively funded by the NEA. The Art Works category is the NEA’s largest funding category and supports projects that focus on the creation of art that meets the highest standards of excellence, public engagement with diverse and excellent art, lifelong learning in the arts, and/or the strengthening of communities through the arts.

“The variety and quality of these projects speaks to the wealth of creativity and diversity in our country,” said NEA Chairman Jane Chu. “Through the work of organizations such as Plan-B Theatre Company, NEA funding invests in local communities, helping people celebrate the arts wherever they are.”

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, anxiety disorders affect 1 in 8 children in the United States. ZOMBIE THOUGHTS, created specifically for grades 4-6, is the story of Sam and Pig, avatars in a video game. Sam is anxious. Pig is punny. Will the audience be able to help them make the right choices on their quest to defeat the evil Machine? A sometimes touching, sometimes hilarious journey in, around and through anxiety. 

ZOMBIE THOUGHTS will serve 8,000 students at 46 elementary schools in 12 counties across Utah between October 1-November 16, 2018 (presenting partners include Davis Arts Council, Entrada Institute, Salt Lake City Public Library and Weber State University’s Arts Learning Collaborative). There will also be four public performances:

Weber State University (tickets $3-$5, available September 1):

Monday, October 8: Browning Center, Room 136 at 7pm

Three branches of the Salt Lake City Public Library (all free): 

Saturday, October 13: Main Branch at 11am
Saturday, October 13: Chapman Branch at 1pm
Thursday, October 25: Glendale Branch at 4:30pm

"Although each year's Tour offers free public performances, I've made it a point to sneak away from my office during the day to see each of the past three Tours in elementary schools," says Plan-B's board president Jesse Nix. "There is nothing quite like being in the room when kids are interacting with art." Artistic Director Jerry Rapier truly believes a 30-minute play can make a difference: “By dispelling misunderstandings surrounding anxiety for the students, teachers and administrators experiencing ZOMBIE THOUGHTS, our hope is to help each school we serve become a safer space for each of its students.”

ZOMBIE THOUGHTS features Katie Jones & Alicia Washington, is designed by Arika Schockmel, stage managed by Sharah Meservy and directed by Cheryl Cluff. 

 Visit planbtheatre.org/zombiethoughts for more information and to bring ZOMBIE THOUGHTS to your school (booking preference given to Title I schools)

Tami on GiveOUTDay

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Tami Marquardt is the vice president of Plan-B’s Board of Trustees. She and her wife Jane have been involved with Plan-B since 2001 and are the largest private contributors to the company via their Peace & Possibility Project.

Click here to make your #GiveOUTDay gift today.

Pushing boundaries – daring and bold – is how I viewed Plan-B Theatre back in 2001 when they brought THE LARAMIE PROJECT to the stage in Salt Lake City.

Jane and I had recently been blessed in our Union by our Unitarian minister in a time when sodomy was still on the books and same-sex marriage was a little more than an unspoken fantasy.

We were so intent on being recognized as a couple that I changed my surname to Marquardt in an attempt to be say to the world:  “We are a couple.  We mean it, we mean it, we really really mean it!”

So you might imagine how my heart leapt up when we were sitting in the audience on opening night of THE LARAMIE PROJECT and,  just before the show, Jerry Rapier announced that Jane & Tami Marquardt were funders of the play.  The gasp in the audience was from me!  I was so moved by our first out-loud-and-proud public recognition as a married couple that I literally had tears in my eyes.

It is a timeless time spot that I will always remember and I have been a dedicated Plan-B Groupie ever since.  Jane and I are devoted contributors to Plan-B.  I truly love this little theatre company – still daring, bold and pushing boundaries.

 

Plan-B Theatre Announces 2018-2019 Season

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Plan-B Theatre has been an important cause for Tami and me since 2001 when Plan B produced The Laramie Project.  Since then, we have supported Plan B, and Tami has been a long-time member of the Board of Trustees.  Plan B raises awareness and invites conversation about the important issues that are present in our community. Just announced, the 2018-2019 season has some incredible plays and the Script in Hand Series.  Tami and I hope to see you at some of the performances.  Tickets can be purchased here.

As the only professional theatre company in the country producing full seasons of new work by local playwrights, the 28th season of unique and socially conscious works created explores how truth finds us and what we do with it once it does.

A season about sexuality, race and privilege.
A season about us, here, now

GOOD STANDING
a world premiere by Matthew Greene
October 18-28, 2018
November 4, 2018 - United Solo Theatre Festival, New York

“I’d been loved. And that changes a person.”

A gay Mormon faces excommunication a week after marrying the man of his dreams. A solo play about faith, hope and catharsis. Featuring Austin Archer. Directed by Jerry Rapier.

From the author of ADAM & STEVE AND THE EMPTY SEA, featuring the author of JUMP

AN EVENING WITH TWO AWFUL MEN
a world premiere by Elaine Jarvik
February 21-March 3, 2019

“I guarantee you there will come a time when your name won’t ring a bell among the living.”

The original worst-President-ever James Buchanan and actor-assassin John Wilkes Booth defend their (in)actions before a live studio audience. A dark comedy about race, privilege and legacy. Featuring Jason Bowcutt, Anne Brings, Dee-Dee Darby-Duffin, one other actor TBA. Directed by Cheryl Cluff.

From the author of RIVER.SWAMP.CAVE.MOUNTAIN., BASED ON A TRUE STORY & MARRY CHRISTMAS

...OF COLOR
a world premiere by playwrights TBA
March 28-April 7, 2019

“You won’t be satisfied, you never are.”

An evening of short plays by and about people of color from the Theatre Artists of Color Writing Workshop. Cast TBA. Directed by Jerry Rapier.

THE 2018/19 SEASON | FREE EVENTS
FREE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL TOUR: ZOMBIE THOUGHTS
a world premiere by Jennifer A. Kokai & Oliver Kokai-Means
Fall 2018

Created specifically for grades 4-6, ZOMBIE THOUGHTS is the story of Sam and Pig, avatars in a video game. Sam is anxious. Pig is punny. Will the audience be able to help them make the right choices on their quest to defeat the evil Machine? A sometimes touching, sometimes hilarious journey in and around anxiety. Featuring Katie Jones, Alicia Washington. Designed by Arika Schockmel. Stage managed by Sharah Meservy. Directed by Cheryl Cluff.

Free Public Performances in partnership with the City Library
October 13: Main Branch at 11am, Chapman Branch at 1pm
October 25: Glendale Branch at 4:30pm

The Free Elementary School Tour serves 8,000 K-6 students at 40+ schools in 10+ counties.

SCRIPT-IN-HAND SERIES
October 24, 2018
February 27, 2019
April 3, 2019

A trio of free staged readings of plays-in-progress each season. These plays are almost always read first in The Lab and are now in a later stage of development and ready for their first audience. Plays, casts, directors TBA.

RADIO HOUR EPISODE 13
a world premiere by Matthew Ivan Bennett

An annual co-production with KUER's RadioWest. Air date, title, cast TBA. Original music by Dave Evanoff. Directed by Cheryl Cluff.

THE LAB
Since 2008, The Lab has been an incubator where 13 local playwrights share whatever script they wish, at whatever stage they wish, in a private table reading for the group. The Lab, which meets monthly, has become our primary source of work for full production. We are truly nourishing a pool of local playwrights rivaling that found in any other city in the country.