Monday, November 14, 2011


As Literary Associate at The Civilians one of the fun things I get to do is check out shows going on that are connected to investigative theater. Because The Civilians is an institute for investigative theater, we like to support shows that fall on the spectrum of investigative by highlighting them here on the blog. Whether a show is directly investigative or the idea for it came from investigative source material, we’re interested!

Last month, I had the chance to see SOUTHERN COMFORT, with book by Dan Collins, music by Julianne Wick Davis, and directed by Tom Caruso, which played at CAP 21 October 5th through November 6th. This musical is based on a documentary of the same name, which tells the story of a “chosen family” of transgender individuals living in rural Georgia. The story is touching and the folk-bluegrass score is upbeat and moving. You can visit the website here.

What’s interesting about this piece from an investigative theater standpoint is that it’s based on a documentary, without actually being a piece of documentary theater. There aren’t that many musicals based on documentaries to begin with, but in the few I can think of – for example, GREY GARDENS – the theatrical version does not maintain a sense of interviewer/interviewee. In SOUTHERN COMFORT, however, characters respond to imagined interview questions as a function of storytelling. This element in particular contributes to the feeling that this musical is a hybrid of traditional musical theater and something more investigative. It’s always cool to see elements of investigative theater working their way into more mainstream forms, especially in a piece as unique and exciting as SOUTHERN COMFORT.

Though the show is no longer running at CAP 21, keep an eye out for future incarnations. And, stay tuned to The Civilians blog for more spotlights from the Literary Corner on shows related to investigative theater!

Post by EllaRose Chary

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