Bakersfield College students perform LGBT play “The Boys in the Band”

Charr Davenport, Reporter

The Bakersfield College Performing Arts Theater Department presented the controversial 1968 play “The Boys in the Band” from Nov 14 – 17. More importantly, the cast and crew made an effort to help educate people about the LGBTQ+ community after each show.

“The Boys in the Band” is a play about Michael (played by Robert Montero-Blanks), a gay man who is throwing a birthday party for his friend Harold (played by Ruben Monarrez) when his straight friend Alan (played by Jake Chivington) accidentally crashes the party. Even though Alan is friends with Michael, he is very homophobic and takes issue with most of Michael’s friends, especially Emory (played by Matthew Solito), a feminine gay man who is very flamboyant. Throughout the night, Michael becomes more and more hostile towards his friends, even being racist towards his friends Bernard (played by Michael Hendrix) and Harold. He eventually ends up getting everyone to play a game that involves calling someone they love in an attempt to tear apart couple Larry (played by Angel Estrada) and Hank (played by Timothy Kelsey Zuniga) and to try and prove that Alan is in the closet. This ends up backfiring and the party ends. The guests leave and Michael is left sobbing into his friend Donald’s (played by Salvador Vidaurri) arms.

The plays focus on important themes, such as sexuality and racism, but also has hidden themes like self-love. After the end of each play, BC’s Student Life Director Nicky Demania went onstage, along with the cast of the play, and had a “Talk-Back” and talked about the play and the LGBTQ+ community and answered questions in order to educate people. The Talk-Back also gave insight on the cast as people, and the way they connected to both the play and each other.

Ivan Mendoza, the actor who played Cowboy, connected to the play in an unexpected manner. “I had taken a break for a year… This is my first play since then and it was the most challenging play I’ve ever done,” Mendoza said. “I came here thinking I’m straight, but I’m now living knowing I’m bi.”

Another actor the play had an impact on was Robert Montero-Blanks, who plays Michael and is the Vice President of the Sexuality and Gender Awareness Club (SAGA Club). “My favorite part [of the play] was definitely the message that we as a cast could send. The original playwriter makes it clear that the characters were parts of himself and that Michael is the center,” said Montero-Blanks. “A lot of gay men go through denial and that’s what makes Michael seem so real. He’s not the villain, he’s just a human.”