COVID Queertet

PERFORUM KU’s Organization for Theatre and Performance Studies Plays and Players Theatre


Kutztown University’s PERFORUM Presents COVID QUEERTET Written and Directed by Deryl Johnson with Monica Antonucci Alfie Keno Jim Reed Jerry Schmidt –Setting– The Arts Project Theatre of Cherry Grove, NY. May 2021 Plays and Players Theatre September 21, 2023 Pre-show music courtesy of the Philadelphia Gay Men’s Chorus Joseph J. Buches, ar7s7c director

_______________Playwright’s Note_________________ Covid Queertet is set during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. The evening takes an ominous turn when four actors begin to examine the artistic works, identities and legacies of Oscar Wilde, Willa Cather, José Sarria, and Kutztown, Pa. native, Keith Haring. During the Spring of 2020, I was awarded a sabbatical to write a new LGBTQ+ play. As the country’s lockdown began, my hopes of travel and study to historical archives was abruptly cut short. As a result, I returned to several artists I had encountered over the years. 1. I grew up in Nebraska and studied Willa Cather. 2. I portrayed Oscar Wilde in the play “Gross Indecency.” 3. I have been on the faculty of Kutztown University for 30 years and was drawn to this location because of the legacy of Keith Haring. 4. In 2003, I brought my dear friend José Sarria to campus for “An Evening with an Empress,” as part of Kutztown University’s Diversity Fest III. Through generous co-sponsorships, this evening’s performance is free to both our live audience and the streaming audiences throughout Pennsylvania, New York, and Nebraska. It is my hope to help people experience live theatre or live-streaming theatre. I hope the issues raised in tonight’s play and the lives of these important LGBTQ+ icons spark conversations and further study. Finally, I would like to mention the QR code on the back cover. There you will find a link to a short anonymous survey that will provide us feedback about your experience tonight. –Deryl Johnson, playwright

___________________ Who’s Who_____________________ Monica Antonucci (Cara/Willa Cather). Monica studied the Stanislavsky Method of Acting in the 1980s with Sidney Kay of The Actors Studio and Neighborhood Playhouse of New York, and Hedgerow Theatre in Media, Pa. In her youth (which is not so recently passed), she appeared in countless university and community plays, musicals, industrial films, and a full-length feature horror film that gives new significance to the campy nature of the B film. She is most grateful to the dear playwright for resurrecting her acting corpse. Alfie Keno (they/them) (Rae/Keith Haring). Alfie is a theatre major graduate from the Lehigh Valley Charter High School for the Performing Arts in Bethlehem, Pa. They are overjoyed to have the opportunity to represent their community with their inaugural Philly Fringe FesRval performance! Some of their favorite theatrical roles include Louise Weaver at the Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire, Winnifred in “Once Upon a MaYress” at NaRvity BVM, PoYsville, Pa., and performing marioneYe puppetry for the Time Machine Theatre at Knoebels Grove, Elysburg, Pa. This summer, they parRcipated in an on-camera intensive at Pine-wood Studios, UK, with acclaimed director James Larkin. They’ve also trained on-camera for the past several years with Covid Queertet’s own assistant director and NYC acRng coach, Joe Whelski. For more about Alfie, visit:

___________________ Who’s Who_____________________ Jim Reed (Panzi/Jose Sarria and Costumer). Born in Beaver Falls, Pa., Jim did undergrad studies at Carnegie Mellon in PiYsburgh, grad work at Penn State in Happy Valley, and moved to Philadelphia in 1976. LongRme residents may have seen him dressed as a historical character in the park or with their kids at children’s theater, in a musical at one of the dinner theaters, or in the Thanksgiving Parade as Santa dancing on the museum steps with the RockeYes. He also did stage work for Opera Delaware, the Kennedy Center and Carnegie Hall. Jim created Murder Mysteries and staged them across the East Coast and as far away as Arizona. For 15 years he sang with the Gay Men’s Chorus. He did all this while raising a beauRful daughter, Kathryn. He lives in Collingswood with his partner Stephan and can ofen be found hanging around the piano at Tavern on Camac, where he met tonight’s playwright and director. He would like to thank Deryl for “drag”ging him back onto the stage afer so many years and kindly knocking off the old cobwebs. Jerry Schmidt (Martin/Oscar Wilde). Jerry is a Lehigh Valley comedian, playwright and drag queen. He can be seen weekly as Carol Ann Carol Ann at the LafayeYe Bar in Easton, Pa. His play, “Olden Girls-All-Inclusive,” was recently staged at Civic Theatre of Allentown. Jerry lives in the Poconos with his husband, Chuck.

___________________ Who’s Who_____________________ Deryl Johnson (Playwright/ Director). A playwright, performer, professor and storyteller, Dr. Deryl Johnson began teaching at Kutztown University in 1993. In addiRon to his creaRve pursuits, he served as the founding director of Kutztown’s LGBTQ+ Resource Center and twice as president of the Kutztown University Senate. Deryl is the playwright of Peter Taylor’s “Old Forest,” “Short Changed: DepicRng Women in Literature,” “Persona,” and “Just Wilde about Haring.” Deryl’s most acclaimed play is “Centralia.” His book and play of the same name follow the saga of the Pennsylvania mining town consumed by an underground fire and the people who stayed. He is also the adapter/director of four plays for WVIA’s NPR Radio project based on the short stories of Pennsylvania naRve, John O’Hara. Joseph Wehlski (Assistant Director). Joe is thrilled to be working once again with Deryl – many years afer he helped bring Deryl’s original play, “Centralia”, to life. Joe is is an award-winning NYC director, writer, producer, acRng coach & SAGAFTRA and Equity actor. He is the founder of, and has won many awards for his direction of Indie films, web series, and commercials. Joe created international commercials for The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust, Born Free USA, and DAVSS (featuring ‘Doctor Who’ number 4, Tom Baker). Joe is an alumnus of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and The New School, and he earned his BFA in communication design from Kutztown University, while also studying design at Buckinghamshire College, England.

___________________ Who’s Who_____________________ Scott Bastedo (Co-Project Director). Professor Bastedo has taught and developed coursework in audio and video producRon, graphic design, moRon graphics, 3D animaRon, and mass media as an instructor at Northland Community and Technical College and at Millersville University. He has worked as a freelancer on commercials, documentaries, and short films in the Washington, DC area. His areas of interest include cinematography and screenwriRng. Cara Cotellese (Co-Project Director). Professor Cotellese came to KU in the Fall of 2008 afer teaching for 18 years in the cinema/ video program at Bucks County Community College in Newtown, Pa. She is an alumna of the CTM department (formerly electronic media) and conRnues to do freelance work in the field. David Crosson (Engineer in Charge). David is a 2002 graduate of KU with a bachelor’s degree in telecommunicaRons as well as being cerRfied in electronic and electrical engineering. With over 25 years experience in television broadcast, David is a remote technical manager for the NBC Sports Group, video engineer for the Philadelphia Eagles, remote technical manager for DAZN sports, and Engineer in Charge for execuRve leadership communicaRon in corporate faciliRes. His diverse career also covers entertainment and theater. СТМ Live Event Crew (lef to right): Sarah Snyder, Adrianna Matos, Ryan McAfee, Andrew Barr, Bobbi MillerSkinner, Sydney Holderman, Morgan Janasek, Ashley Groover, Kipp Tonkin, and David Ziegler.

____________________The Artists ____________________ Willa Cather (1873–1947) was a renowned American author known for her contributions to modern American literature. Born in Back Creek Valley, Virginia, she later moved with her family to Nebraska, an experience that greatly influenced her writing. Cather's literary career began as a journalist, and she eventually transitioned to writing fiction including 1905’s “Paul’s Case.” Her novels often explored themes of frontier life, the American West, and the challenges of adapting to new environments. One of her most famous works, "My Ántonia," vividly depicted the lives of immigrant settlers on the Nebraska plains. Her writing style, characterized by its lyrical prose and detailed descriptions of landscapes, garnered praise from critics and readers alike. In 1923, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for her novel "One of Ours," which focused on the experiences of a young man during World War I. Cather's other notable works include "O Pioneers!" and "The Song of the Lark," which contributed to her reputation as one of the leading literary figures of her time. Her novels often delved into the complexities of identity, cultural clashes, and the impact of time on individuals and societies. Willa Cather's literary legacy endures, with her works continuing to be studied and celebrated for their evocative portrayal of American life and the human spirit's resilience.

____________________The Artists_____________________ Keith Haring (1958–1990) was an American artist known for his vibrant and iconic pop art creations. Raised in Kutztown, Pa., Haring's artistic talents emerged at an early age, and he later studied at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Haring gained recognition in the 1980s for his distinctive and instantly recognizable style, characterized by bold lines, bright colors, and simple, symbolic forms. He became a prominent figure in the East Village art scene, using public spaces such as subway stations and empty billboards as his canvas to create his energetic and socially conscious artworks. His art often tackled themes such as love, AIDS awareness, political activism, and social justice. Haring's iconic motifs, including dancing figures and radiant babies, became synonymous with his message of unity and optimism. In addition to his street art, Haring's work extended to galleries and museums around the world. He collaborated with fellow artists, musicians, and even fashion designers, further expanding his influence. Tragically, Haring's life was cut short when he succumbed to complications from AIDS in 1990, but his legacy continues to thrive through his art and its enduring impact on contemporary culture.

_____________________The Artists ___________________ Jose Sarria (1922–2013) was an influeneal LGBTQ+ acevist, drag performer, and the founder of the Imperial Court System, a network of LGBTQ+ charitable organizaeons. Born in San Francisco, Sarria became a trailblazing figure in the early gay rights movement. In 1961, Sarria made history by becoming one of the first openly gay candidates to run for public office in the U.S., running for a seat on the San Francisco Board of Supervisors. Although he did not win, his campaign was a groundbreaking moment for LGBTQ+ visibility and poliecal representaeon. Sarria was also a prominent drag performer, known for his performances at the Black Cat Bar in San Francisco's North Beach neighborhood. His drag persona, "Mama José," became a beloved figure in the local LGBTQ+ community. In 1965, Sarria founded the Imperial Court System, which aimed to raise funds for LGBTQ+ causes through glamorous, drag-oriented events. The organizaeon eventually spread to other ciees and played a significant role in raising awareness and support for HIV/ AIDS inieaeves. Throughout his life, Sarria worked erelessly to combat discriminaeon and promote equality for LGBTQ+ individuals. His legacy conenues to inspire acevism and advocacy within the LGBTQ+ community, and he is remembered as a pioneering figure in the fight for LGBTQ+ rights and visibility.

____________________The Artists ____________________ Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) was a brilliant Irish playwright, novelist, essayist, and known for his flamboyant style and sharp wit. Born in Dublin, Ireland, he arended Trinity College and later studied at Oxford University where he became a prominent figure in the aestheec and decadent movements. Wilde gained fame for his plays which included wiry comedies like "The Importance of Being Earnest" and "An Ideal Husband." His works, such as “The Picture of Dorian Gray,” osen explored the social norms and hypocrisies of Victorian society, earning him both admiraeon and controversy. He is remembered for his memorable one-liners and clever insights into human nature. However, Wilde's success was overshadowed by scandal when he was imprisoned for "gross indecency" due to his homosexual relaeonships which were illegal at the eme. Aser his release, he spent his last years in self-imposed exile in France where he wrote "The Ballad of Reading Gaol," a powerful refleceon on his prison experience. Wilde's life and works les a laseng impact on literature and LGBTQ+ rights. His wit and unconveneonal lifestyle conenue to inspire writers, arests, and thinkers, and he is celebrated for his contribueons to the literary and cultural landscape of his era.

______________ How Can You Help? _______________ Support Theatre and Performance Studies! When supporting Kutztown University artists, you have the chance to make an even greater impact campus wide. Give a gift today to support future student-assisted productions, experiential learning opportunities, and a craft that reaches beyond our KU community. The KU College of Visual and Performing Arts appreciates your support! Click the link below or scan the QR code to see how you can give directly to help productions like Covid Queertet continue.!/donation/checkout You can also use the link or QR Code to give to the Lambda Scholarship, benefitting LGBTQ+ students and their allies at KU, or to support the mission of the College of Visual and Performing Arts.

____________About This Theatre_______________ Plays & Players began in 1911 as a social club devoted to expanding and developing new theater experiences for and by its membership. Once an exclusive club, Plays & Players has grown over the years into a professsional theatre devoted to supporting established and emerging local artists in practicing and performing their craft. A historic company existing in a vibrant modern arts scene, Plays & Players continues to change and grow with the times while always keeping an eye on its rich and powerful past. Plays & Players Theatre is one of the oldest theaters in continuous use in the United States. It was designed and constructed in 1912 by famed Philadelphia architect Amos W. Barnes. Beginning as The Little Theatre, it has also been known as the Delancey Street Theatre (1920) and The Philadelphia Theatre before becoming Plays & Players Theatre. Tours of Plays & Players Theatre are available by appointment only. Please contact us at 215-735-0630 or email ( to schedule a date and time. Special Thanks! This production was made possible by the following: • Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education: Pennsylvania Faculty Professional Develop Grant • KU College of Visual and Performing Arts • KU Department of Cinema, Television and Media Production • KU Department of Communication Studies • Kutztown University Foundation, Inc.

The Kutztown University LGBTQ+ Resource Center is a safe space for all members of the Kutztown community. As such, we strive to combat bullying, gossip, and victim-blaming by fostering an atmosphere of acceptance and mutual respect, with a special concern for the well-being of transgender, lesbian, bisexual, gay, intersex, questioning, and other non-cis/straight students. We host a number of student groups and frequently collaborate with the KU Women's Center. The Mazzoni Center provides comprehensive health and wellness services in an LGBTQ-focused environment, while preserving the dignity and improving the quality of life of the individuals we serve. Visit:

We need your help! We are collecting information about your experience at Covid Queertet. Please use the QR code to go to our online survey. Your feedback will help to create future performances. Are you Interested in Theatre or our Performance and Storytelling minor? Email: