‘Tea Party’ with a twist


‘Tea Party’
Through February at Ansley Park Playhouse
1545 Peachtree St., Atlanta, GA 30309

‘Lay of the Land’
Nov.  10-13 at 7 Stages
1105 Euclid Ave., Atlanta, GA 30307

“Tea Party” is a play Gibson and Morris have been working on for more than year. The couple had to re-write the play when Herman Cain came to prominence and become a viable GOP force.

“We didn’t expect that, but when he cracked double digits in the polls we knew we had to,” says Gibson.

They have incorporated all sorts of political figures into the mix – the Cannons, for instance, have offstage meetings with Sarah Palin, Michele Bachmann, Rick Perry and Mitt Romney. In typical fashion, the playwrights are known to add big news of the day into the evening’s performance.

“If it’s current, we talk about it,” Gibson says.

A scandal ensues when the Cannon’s son Zeke (Richard Allen Lee)  turns out to be gay. According to Gibson, he is a non-stereotypical character, a Heisman-nominated running back whose sexual orientation is known to none of his family. Yet when a sex tape surfaces, and the family is blackmailed, his secret bubbles to the surface.

“Clarissa doesn’t care that her son is gay – what she cares about are the poll numbers,” says Gibson. His father, though, has a harder time accepting it.
This is the first play Gibson and Morris have penned that centers around an African-American family.

“Peachtree Battle’ is about a family and so is this,” he says. “We all want the same things – we want a family and we want what is best for our children.  But we’ve found that people love watching messed up families.”

The playwrights address a lot of issues in the play but do it through laughs.

“We handle the race issue through comedy,” Gibson says. “Preston thinks he knows what it means to be black, but he doesn’t. He only knows one person.”

Gibson feels this is one of their strongest plays and one of the best ensembles he has ever put together. Yet he admits that he and Gibson have only one goal in their writing.

“We don’t do art – we want to entertain,” he says.

Tim Miller’s ‘Lay of the Land’

Gay performer Tim Miller can always be counted on for a healthy dose of theatrical activism. His brings his politically-charged “Lay of the Land” to 7 Stages this week.

The one-man show deals predominantly with marriage equality and queer citizenship — the status of being gay in America right now. It came about shortly after Prop 8.

“For me, the big prompt is always about what you can’t make peace about and for me, it’s my state – California,” Miller says.  “For five joyous months we had marriage equality followed by this endless and visible battle and eventually it was declared unconstitutional.”

In previous shows Miller has talked about immigration laws, which is especially relevant as his partner since 1994, Alistair McCartney, is an Australian who he is not allowed to marry.

In addition to his political musing, Miller is also known for getting naked onstage. This go-around, he gives us his own comic and political variation of “turning the other cheek,” he laughs.


Top photo: In ‘Tea Party,’ Clarissa Cannon (Tonglia Davis) and Thurgood Cannon (Patrick A. Jackson) hire Preston Miller (Truman Griffin) to help make Mr. Cannon’s presidential candidacy more enticing to conservative voters. (Publicity photo)