Pro-gay marriage play heads to Riverland in Owatonna - Southernminn.com: Events

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Pro-gay marriage play heads to Riverland in Owatonna

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Posted: Monday, April 1, 2013 3:11 pm | Updated: 7:48 pm, Mon Apr 1, 2013.

OWATONNA — Knowing that a lot of people won’t read through the 515 current state laws that are available to married couples, but not to same-sex couples, a group of actors decided to act out the laws.

The Project 515 Education Campaign is a non-profit organization working to teach Minnesotans about the 515 current state laws that provide rights, benefits and responsibilities based on marriage that are therefore unavailable to same-sex couples.

In 2010, “515-The Tour!” started. For the past three years, the actors have performed the show at colleges and community centers throughout the Minnesota.

The show comes arrives in Owatonna at 7 p.m. Thursday at the Owatonna Commons at Riverland Community College. Eric Jensen, communication director for 515-The Tour, said most shows are performed in front of 30 to 60 people. The group did perform to a large crowd at Cowles Center for the Performing Arts in Minneapolis last year, but most of the shows are done in an intimate, up-close sessions. There is no charge for the show. When the group first went on tour in 2010, current director and former actor Bryan Gerber decided against an admission charge.

“We decided early on that we wanted to make this show available to as many people as possible,” Gerber said. “We want people to come see the show, hear the information, and we want to make coming to the show as easy as possible.”

According to a press release, “515– The Tour!” is a 45-minute theatrical representation of the real life challenges faced by same-sex couples and their families in Minnesota based on their inability to marry. The show highlights the ways in which at least 515 laws affect families in every facet of their lives — in times of illness and tragedy, in planning for the future, and even in a couple’s professional and political lives.

“This is a show that brings a serious message to people who otherwise may never hear about it,” Gerber said. “At a time when Minnesota is engaged in a statewide discussion about marriage for same-sex couples, we hope to demonstrate the ways in which marriage is important to all families. Our show presents a vision of a world where all families are equally valued and respected under the law and in their homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and communities.”

The show is presented by the six “515 Players,” each of whom plays several roles during the performance. The actors are John Potter, Lacey Anne Zeiler, Richard Weber, John Zeiler, Jessica Dougherty and Anna Wakefield.

After the show, the audience is invited to stay for a question-and-answer period. Past audiences have used this opportunity to ask questions about the content of the show and how local communities can work to bring about equal treatment for all families in Minnesota.

“The wide range of questions always surprises us,” Gerber said. “Every community seems to have a different set of questions. The questions are often quite lively or practical, depending on the area.”

Gerber said when the show last traveled through southern Minnesota, the questions dealt with labor and small business laws.

The show “515” was originally conceived by Gerber and produced by The Flower Shop Project and Project 515 Education Campaign. It premiered in 2010 at Patrick’s Cabaret in Minneapolis. The original show has been updated several times and has been performed extensively through the state.

Reach reporter Derek Sullivan at 444-2372, or follow him on Twitter @OPPSullivan

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