Even with the historic December 22, 2010 repeal of the commonly called “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” it’s deceptively easy for civilians to think that with President Obama’s signature that a major LGBT rights milestone had been reached (true.) It was also easy to be lulled into a sheltered sense that overnight everything would change (false.) In The Kansas City Repertory Theaters production of Marc Wolf’s powerful Obie Award-Winning one man show Another American: Asking and Telling the issues as they were before the repeal, and I have a sense still to be overcome in the years ahead, are laid out. Both sides of the argument are explored over the course of two acts and 18 characters and their stories.
Another American: Asking and Telling is docudrama theater. Wolf spent three years (1997-1999) interviewing approximately two hundred people. The 18 characters and the stories of their experience are portrayed expertly by Wolf. Nothing here is tinged with any kind of rose colored glasses. The show is brutally raw, affecting, and at a moment devastating as you learn what it was like for gays and lesbians serving in the armed forces. Some of the stories go back as far as Vietnam long before “don’t ask, don’t tell” which wasn’t law until 1993.
Nothing is held back as those serving at first approach their interview paranoid about Wolf and what their potential outing could mean to them and their Military careers. Further, those on the other side, that want anything but gays and lesbians in the military hold nothing back as well. It’s serious, heavy material packed with emotion. Thankfully there are occasional, well balanced moments of levity thrown in to keep the proceedings from getting too heavy. Said moments are seemingly surgically inserted so as not to detract too heavily from the thought provoking discussion the show leaves in your mind once it has ended.
I’ll admit that I walked into Another American: Asking and Telling thinking the show would be nothing more than a historical artifact given the recent repeal of the law. I found that I was mistaken as its material and context is as relevant now as when it was first produced back in 1999.
I give Another American: Asking and Telling 4 “equal and human rights for ALL” out of 5
By John Coovert
Another American: Asking and Telling runs through February 6 at the Spencer Theatre. Tickets are available at KCRep.org or by calling 816-235-2700