Our previous interim Executive Director and Development Director, Josie Leavitt, is featured on the cover of Seven Days for her upcoming comedy showcase: 'So This Happened'.
Excerpt from the Seven Days article below:
In the standup comedy classes she used to teach, Josie Leavitt imparted one key piece of advice to her students. Aside from tips on joke construction and timing, it's her most fundamental nugget of comic wisdom.
"I would tell them that you can have a bad day, and you can have a funny day," she says to Seven Days at the dining room table of her home in Charlotte. "But guess what? They're the same day."
The idea that it's possible, even essential, to find humor in life's most difficult moments is indispensable to the Vermont comedian's own voluminous body of work. Lately, the founder of the Vermont Comedy Divas and self-described "mother hen" of the local comedy scene has put that principle to its greatest test. Those bad, funny days are central to Leavitt's new one-woman show, "So This Happened," which takes place Thursday and Friday, September 20 and 21, at the Flynn MainStage in Burlington.
Early this year, Leavitt, 53, was diagnosed with breast cancer. From the outset, her prognosis was relatively good. The cancerous lump was detected early, before it could metastasize, and was completely removed. Her subsequent treatments, which included several rounds of chemo and radiation, reduced the likelihood of recurrence to minuscule numbers.
"I was lucky," she says.
That's true, perhaps in more ways than one, for a woman who excels at finding hilarity in hard times.
"A lot of my friends are comics," Leavitt says. "And they were like, 'I'm so sorry about the cancer. But fuck you for the material.'"
"I never begrudged her the material," says fellow Comedy Diva Tracie Spencer. "But we all knew she would get some out of it, which I was happy about."
Vermont Pride Festival at Chandler presents Paul Lucas’ groundbreaking play Trans Scripts, Part I: The Women at the First Unitarian Universalist Society, 152 Pearl Street. The staged reading, in one act, will be followed by a talkback.
The play was given its world premiere at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe (Scotland) in August 2015. That production featured the real stories of six transgender women in a ballet of colors and emotions. Each story deftly intertwined with the others, the actors baring their souls to present the experiences of the interviewees, as told in the interviewees’ own words. Of a subsequent Boston production, The Boston Herald wrote that this ground-breaking play presents “… a set of deep-rooted stories full of warmth and vulnerability that speaks to anyone en route to discovering their own identity.”
The Herald of Randolph described Vermont Pride Theater’s original production at Chandler last January as “…a stunning event, …celebrating the lives of these brave people who are part of our community….” Again directed by Cher Laston (Williamstown), the Burlington reprise includes Amy Engsholmen (Albany), Lily Fernald (Falmouth, ME), Elena Littlebug (Burlington), Susan Loynd (Fayston), Toni Maviki (Danbury, NH), Jeff Tolbert (Randolph), and Kim Ward (Montpelier),
For Trans Scripts, Part I: The Women Mr. Lucas conducted nearly four years of research, interviewing over 75 people of transgender experience. About the text to be featured in Burlington, he wrote: “Each of the [now] seven characters’ parts – with the exceptions of three or four monologues – is directly drawn from a single trans woman’s story and experience. However, choices about which stories to include were often influenced by patterns that surfaced persistently. If several interview subjects related a certain experience, I made an effort to include that experience in the text.” Mr. Lucas has now embarked on a similar multi-year interview project with trans men.
Calling all trans and gender non-conforming Vermonters for a new special speaking project for Pride! On Friday, September 7th we will feature 5-7 minute stories from trans people around the state in a Moth Radio Hour style storytelling session. We will be featuring moments of trans validation & joy. Speakers will be paid a small speaking award, invited to a free dinner with each other & with trans event organizers, and will be given community-based housing if they want to stay the night and attend Pride festivities on Saturday, September 8. We are looking for a diversity of voices in regards to age, race, ethnicity, gender identity, stage of transition (or not), disability, veteran status, home town, and current location in Vermont.
To submit a proposal, please email 1 paragraph about a moment of joy and/or validation in your life, along with a short bio, to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Proposals must be submitted by Tuesday, July 31st for consideration.
This month Burly Bear is traveling beyond the stars to bring you the most stellar scene! We'll have Djs from all regions of the galaxy bringing you light speed sets! Join us at Red Square on May 25th from 8pm to 11pm in the blue(room) supernova!
21+ $5 cover/ Proceeds go to People with AIDS Coalition
A lot of folks have been wondering just what's up with our ticket pricing for this year's 20th Annual Community Celebration on May 18th at the Echo Center. The change in pricing is for two reasons. First, we really listened to community members who said that last year the benefit was too expensive. Also, in honor of this being our 20th Annual Celebration, we thought each ticket category could tell the story of the Center.
Here are the ticket prices and their meaning to the Center:
Party Like It's 1999! Help us celebrate the year we were founded with tickets that are $19.99.
Can't make the Event? Help a community member attend with a $25 ticket.
The Fight Isn't Over Ticket for $29. 29% of people who came to SafeSpace this year did so as a result of hate violence or discrimination, reminding us that our fight against homophobia, biphobia, and transphobia in Vermont is far from over.
Celebrate Health and Wellness with a $56 ticket. Our Health & Wellness program will have 56 GBT guys participate in a 2-hour session that will hone their skills on promoting sexual health, reducing HIV stigma, and increasing access to HIV testing, prevention, and care. These newly trained peer educators then disseminate this important information throughout our community, including those who are at highest risk for contracting HIV in Vermont.
Celebrate SafeSpace with a $98 ticket. 98 People have been trained in LGBTQ Sensitivity in the Vermont Department of Corrections and in the Vermont State Police thus far this year through our SafeSpace program.
Please use this link to purchase tickets. We hope to see at Echo on May 18th!
Living in the Rutland area? LGBTQ+? Looking for community?
Join us for the afternoon on Sunday April 15th from 4pm-6pm!! This is an opportunity for LGBTQ+ folks in the Rutland area to come together and meet each other. LGBTQ+ people and their families welcome!
The Speakeasy will be closed to the public and open to us! A limited menu of coffee and baked goods will be available for purchase.
If you have any questions feel free to comment or contact Jess Novak.
Join us for a group geared toward exploring and sharing our skills for positive, supportive relationships. This course focuses on exploring how we relate, whether a romantic/sexual relationship, friendships, family relationships, ‘it’s complicated’ relationships, and other ways we label our ‘ships.
It starts on February 22nd 5:30-7PM and will be held in the Waterman Building on UVM Campus Room 458.
This free, queer-friendly group is based on a 6-session curriculum, and is open to all people of all identities.
VALENTINE'S DAY POP UP EVENT! All of your Valentine's desires can be satiated at this event. From witch-inspired clothing and handmade jewelry to paddles and sex toys, with trashy romance novels and vampire sex lit, you are bound to have a LOVE-ly time.
Featuring: I wood for you - Brings out the character of Vermont hardwoods- Wooden paddles and earrings and dressing screens.
A new support group for trans 20somethings is starting in January! Young adults across the gender spectrum are invited. We will be serving hot cocoa and pizza at our Trans 20somethings Hot Cocoa Night! If you would like to be involved, email email@example.com or simply show up at 6:30pm on January 30th.
Every Act of Life chronicles the four-time Tony winner’s five decades working in the American theatre.
Jeff Kaufman and Marcia Ross have launched a Kickstarter fund-raising campaign for their documentary on four-time Tony-winning playwright and librettist Terrence McNally.
Entitled Every Act of Life, the film chronicles McNally's pioneering work in the American theatre over five decades, his fight for LGBT rights, his battles with alcohol and cancer, and more. The producers describe the project as the “first documentary about one of the world’s most honored and risk-taking writers, and an immersive exploration of how to make the third act of life as interesting as the first two.”
As filming and editing are complete, the funds raised (with a goal set for $42,000) would go toward final post-production elements, including color correction, sound design, and promotional assets. “Terrence says in Every Act of Life, ’Theatre is collaborative, and life is collaborative,’” write Kaufman and Ross. “Filmmaking is also collaborative. In this case, it is tax deductible, as well, because your contribution will go through our non-profit fiscal sponsor.”
McNally earned Tony Awards for his plays Master Class and Love! Valour! Compassion! as well as the books to the musicals Kiss of the Spider Womanand Ragtime. His works also include The Ritz, Deuce, The Lisbon Traviata, The Rink, A Man of No Importance, Catch Me If You Can, and It's Only a Play. He is currently represented on Broadway with Anastasia.
For more information or to donate to the campaign, which continues through November 22, visit Kickstarter.com.
Want more queer space in Burlington? Let's make it happen.
Join us on Friday 10/27 for an LGBTQIA+ bar takeover at Lamp Shop and Radio Bean from 10pm to 1am! This event is 18+ (on the Radio Bean side) with a $5 cover (we're working on options for those who cannot pay). Both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages are available for purchase. All are welcome!
Invite your friends from the community! More details to come!
identifying places throughout the state that tell the story of our shared LGBTQ history.
Please join us and the Vermont Division for Historic Preservation for a discussion October 17 at 11:30 a.m., following the dedication of the Marriage Equality State Historic Marker at the State House (room 11) in Montpelier to continue identifying historically significant places throughout the state.
Open House on Saturday, November 4, 3:00 PM at Leddy Arena.
This is a free event for skaters interested in learning about team figure skating theater/sport.
To attend the open house the skater needs to be able to skate backward. To join the team they need to live in Vermont and pass preliminary moves in the field.Ice cream sundaes, meeting team members and skating in costumes is part of this fun event. Boys encouraged to join the team. If you have questions, contact Team Manager Susanmarie Harrington firstname.lastname@example.org
6-week trauma-informed yoga series designed for LGBTQ+ people of all skill levels and ability. Classes will be held in the barn of the Pride Center starting on October 13th and will last approximately 1 hour.
More information from the instructor: Brandon Schulze
I was led to meditation when I was young as a means to help create balance in my life after struggling with depression/anxiety. This started me on a 10+ year path of learning and practicing various types of bodywork and meditations by using Energy, Breath, and eventually Massage Therapy. Three years ago due to anxiety and chronic body pain I began taking up Yoga and saw great results with relief in my mood and body. It was a challenge for sure but the results I saw in keeping up a steady Yoga practice made it worth it. Creating a new network of friends, teachers, and training I found the best fit for me at Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy, an internationally recognized Yoga Training facility. The style I teach combines Psychology with Yoga Philosophy and Postures. This can be done one-on-one or with group classes. I am excited to be able to share my experiences and training with others, helping them find a means of bringing about comfort in their body as well as the environment in which they live day to day. I believe the skills learned in Yoga and self-exploration can apply to anyone’s life and create a silent space that allows transformation to unfold. All humans experience trauma, and in traumas we can experience deep growth and understanding, allowing us to appreciate the joys life has to offer.
Week 1 [Oct. 13th] - Inner Child: It is through our childhood that we unwittingly develop and experience traumas that grow and transform into our personal struggles as we grow into adulthood. Creating space with movement and awareness while holding a dialog with our inner child allows us to see an innocent, playful side of ourselves that may have not understood why we felt the way we did when we were young. Through these imprinted notions, our inner child can take control at various times when we are growing. Our inner child is both playful and fun as well as causes limitations in our beliefs about how we see ourselves. Through this class we will find playful movements and self-dialog to tap into what our inner child may be asking of us and how we can use this connection in our lives. Week 2 [Oct. 21st] - Feminine, Masculine, & Neutral Self: In our world we see love or pains, strengths or weaknesses of our expressions and actions that can be experienced with our inner Feminine, Masculine, & Neutral selves. With this class we will use relaxing flow poses to connect with how we perceive the Feminine, Masculine, and Neutral aspects within ourselves as well as how these parts may see or relate to the world around us. Week 3 [Oct. 27th] - Exploring Types of Edges: When we reach an edge, we have reached what we perceive to be a physical, mental, or emotional limit. Often brought on by challenges in our daily lives, past traumas, and our current state of being, edges can be explored by means of a physical pose or becoming aware of mental and emotional limitations. Edges are not necessarily painful, they can exist in a Yin or Yang state, having elements both negative and positive. In this class we will explore with movement various Edges and learn how to recognize them as a means of showing ourselves where we are at and where we may be willing to explore beyond an edge. Week 4 [Nov. 3rd] - Fight, Flight, & Freeze Response: In this class we will explore the benefits of being aware of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems’ response to trauma and triggers. When we experience a traumatic event or are triggered and reminded of one, the sympathetic nervous system responds with Fight, Flight, or Freeze. Creating awareness of how this can happen at small levels or on a larger scale in various situations will help us to overcome these responses. We will learn mind-body tools through movement, breath and mental habits to regain control. Week 5 [Nov. 10th] - Yoga Philosophy: People often think of Yoga as purely movement (“Asana”), but there are actually 8 different aspects of Yoga. Classes often combine multiple aspects, but a whole class could solely focus on just one, such as breathing (“Pranayama”). Other aspects of Yoga Philosophy include embodied meditation, inner attunement, bliss connection, practices for life, personal practices, and focus or concentration. We will stick with the English wording for these aspects of Yoga and work together as a group on deciding which ones we want to develop more for ourselves. Week 6 [Nov. 18th] - LGBTQA Spiritual Leadership : Throughout history and even in some modern day cultures, people with LGBTQA identities were often revered or simply accepted as a natural state of being. Queer people were seen as a third gender in some cases, such as the “Berdache” traditions of many Native American cultures who looked to the Queer people of their tribes as gate keepers to the spiritual realms. With our Yoga in this class we will explore individually our role as leaders, both in our communities and of our own spiritual journeys. We will find ways to reclaim this spiritual leadership in today’s society where people are not always as accepting of LGBTQA people.