After a triumphant staging in the spring at Out Front Theatre Company, former Atlantan Ty Autry returns his highly personal “A Southern Fairytale” to town next week. The show details his own experience growing up in the Deep South as a gay Christian and his relationship with God and his family.
The 26-year-old ﬁrst started writing “Fairytale” in 2018 and the play had its ﬁrst workshop in New York later that year. Autry began submitting it to a few festivals afterward, including one in Dublin, Ireland that accepted it. “That got me into the groove of thinking I could produce it into a full-ﬂedged show and take it places,” he said.
He’s still making changes to it, however. “It’s very powerful and complex,” he says. “It’s based on my personal history but I don’t want it to be just about me. I have added a bit of ﬁction to it because I want the show to eventually be able to be told by other actors instead of just me.” The central character here is called Alex Belmont.
Autry has a lot of amazing memories of his years growing up but much of it was admittedly hard. He came out when he was 15 and was caught by his parents when he was romantically attracted to a colleague. Upset, they decided to pull him from school. “I went back into the closet and was going to a therapist for anger management issues and being queer,” he recalls. “It was a form of conversion therapy, although my parents and I disagree on whether it conversion therapy. It was about changing my behavior toward other men.”
Sometime later he was caught again and the school he was attending kicked him out and his church excommunicated him at the age of 16. “The church was telling me I was not allowed to be a Christian anymore,” he recalls. “I almost had a nervous breakdown – it was pretty terrifying. I went back into the closet.”
When he was caught a third time, he was deﬁant and realized he would not be retreating. “I was 17 with my dad and therapist and youth pastor and at the last therapy session it was more of an intervention, with questions like ‘Do you have a demon inside you?’ I said to myself, ‘This is my truth.’ I was tired of people telling me how to live my life. I remember this light of clarity saying I don’t have to put up with this anymore.”
The actor-playwright grew up in Thomasville, GA then moved to Statesboro and ﬁnally to Camilla. His next stop was Atlanta to attend Georgia Tech in 2011. In his senior year, he decided he was going to jump ship and become a performer. Autry was doing a show in Alpharetta and his acting coach suggested that if he was passionate about the profession, he should give it a shot. He wrote, directed and choreographed a variety show and booked some acting gigs. “Once I had a paycheck in my hand, I was hooked,” he said.
One of his most prominent roles was in Out Front’s “The Most Fabulous Story Ever Told” two years ago. He considered that one of his ﬁrst headlining roles after various musicals where he was part of the ensemble and some supporting roles here and there. Autry relocated to New York two weeks after that engagement. The catalyst for that was an offer from Atlantic Acting School for a six-week acting class. “I thought I would try New York for two years. Even if I hated it, I will try it for that period.” Last summer, though, he received an offer to stay in the Big Apple and teach as part of the Atlantic Acting School faculty.