Professor’s play explores modern marriage equality


Source: Timmy Samuel

La Shawn Banks, Elizabeth Ledo, Stephen Cone, Collin Quinn Rice (Communication ‘15) and Mitchell Fain, pictured left to right, make up the cast of the upcoming show “Le Switch” at Chicago’s About Face Theatre. The show was written by School of Communication Prof. Philip Dawkins.

Jennifer Hepp, Reporter


At a Bachelor party in Montreal, two men fall madly in love and begin a relationship. The quirky story follows the duo traversing the United States on the cusp of nationwide marriage equality in “Le Switch,” a romantic comedy written by Communication Prof. Philip Dawkins.

The show premiers Jan. 15 at Chicago’s About Face Theatre. Dawkins said prior to the acceptance of marriage equality, he had several friends — also involved in the fine arts — living in states that had differing laws pertaining to marriage.

“Even though we were all unified in our endeavors for making art, it felt like we were all on different planes,” Dawkins said. “So I wanted to explore a romance where people are kind of forced apart from each other based on politics outside of themselves.”

He said he wrote the play in order to explore how politics catch up with people on a personal level.

“It’s something that’s close to my heart and I’m ready to share it,” Dawkins said. “I’ve been working on it for a long time.”

In “Le Switch,” the main character, David, falls in love with Benoit, a French-Canadian florist played by Collin Quinn Rice (Communication ‘15).

The two characters meet at a party and form a relationship in which they must deal with new political pressures being thrown at them.

“What I want for the audience is to love these characters as much as I do,” Rice said. “I also want them to really invest in some idea that’s presented, whether it be marriage, queer identity or two people fighting for love.”

Gus Schlanbusch (Communication ‘15), the assistant director for “Le Switch,” said Dawkins has an approachable way of writing effortlessly about enormously complicated contemporary political issues.

“I think it’s going to do a great job of bringing everybody into this world of being a gay man in New York in 2011,” Schlanbusch said. “When you really sit down and unpack this, you realize, ‘Wow, this guy’s saying a lot of things in very few words.’ I find myself really having to think —  while I’m laughing my guts out — to figure out every little bit and piece of information that’s being thrown at me.”

The world premiere of “Le Switch” will be part of About Face Theatre’s 20th anniversary season. Dawkins said he hopes to convey through his play a sense of love for self and for community, even if that community is changing.

The play provides something that all viewers can appreciate, whether they identify as LGBTQ or not, Rice said.

“It really deals with these themes in a way that doesn’t exclude anyone,” Rice said. “It presents all sides to the story in a way that I think audiences are going to feel invited into and challenged by.”

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