‘Daddy’s Boy’ Depicts Battle of Values in Boxing Ring

“Daddy’s Boy” by Cristian Avila begins in the boxing ring, with 17 year old national wrestling champion Milo facing off against his childhood best friend, J.T.

This match is not just a physical battle but a battle of values as well, since Milo identifies as queer and J.T. represents the homophobia of Milo’s Texas hometown that his two fathers fled for more liberal Manhattan. As Milo is about to win the match, J.T.’s homophobic dad screams out “faggott,” which serves to fuel Milo even more.

Milo’s victory sashay and pink singlet are recorded and the footage goes viral, prompting a media backlash that triggers a horrific assault on his life. This tragic event and Milo’s bravery drive his “straight acting” dads to face their fears of their own homosexuality and to come together to support their son as he embarks on the long road to forgiveness and healing.

Theater for the New City’s 2015 Dream Up Festival will present the play’s world premiere August 30 to September 6, 2015 directed by the author.

Foreground: Cody Petit (wrestler in pink), Jeffrey Tierney (wrestler in black). Background: (Chorus) Tyler Matos, Paige Borden, Melanie Overfield, Morgan Green. Photo by Mia Isabella Aguirre.

“Daddy’s Boy” is about celebrating who you are, but also about the inevitable challenges that come with doing this. While it is often easier to give in to social pressures to fit in, Milo refuses to repress who he is and this, in turn, empowers other characters to think about their own identities. The play is very much in touch with present issues facing the LGBTQ community and the impact of the media on their movement, asking, “how much progress has actually been made?”

The play’s staging is extremely clever in that its framework is dictated by the dynamics of a wrestling match, with whistle blows ending the scenes and a Chorus of ‘home’ and ‘away’ fans responding to the dialogue and interacting with the audience.

The Chorus adds their own opinions, picks sides and even acts as the voice of social media. The Chorus becomes a vehicle of violence towards the end of the play and perpetuates stereotypes, encouraging us to look at the way we respond to news and how picking sides can restrict us from looking at all sides of an issue.

Cody Petit (wrestler in pink) won much more than just a wrestling match against Jeffrey Tierney (wrestler in black). Photo by Mia Isabella Aguirre.

Playwright Cristian Avila is a second year graduate student at Long Island University’s C.W. Post campus. His undergraduate studies were at UC Berkeley, where he received a B.A. in Dramatic Art. He recently attended the 2014 SITI Summer Intensive at Skidmore College. He has written directed and acted prolifically at C.W. Post and UC Berkeley.

The sixth Dream Up Festival (www.dreamupfestival.org) will be presented by Theater for the New City (TNC) from August 30 to September 20, 2015, offering a lineup of wide-ranging and original theatrical visions embracing drama, musicals, improv, aerial and more.

This year, owing to growing popularity, the festival has expanded beyond its primary venue. Previously, all productions were presented at Theater for the New City, 155 First Ave. This year, 19 productions will be presented at TNC and seven will be presented at an outside venue, The Producers Club Theaters at 358 West 44th Street.

The festival is dedicated to new works. TNC feels this festival is especially needed now in a time of declining donations to the arts, when grants are not being awarded due to market conditions and arts funding is being cut across the country and abroad. The festival aims to push ideas to the forefront through imaginative presentations so as to challenge audience expectations and make us question our understanding of the way art illuminates the world around us.

The show is presented by Theater for the New City (Crystal Field, Artistic Director) as part of the Dream Up Festival 2015 from August 30 to September 6. Performances are August 30 at 8:00 PM, August 31 at 9:00 PM, September 3 at 9:00 PM, September 5 at 5:00 PM, September 6 at 2:00 PM and September 6 at 8:00 PM at Theater for the New City (Community Theater), 155 First Ave. Tickets are $15. Box office is (212) 254-1109. You can find more information and purchase tickets at www.dreamupfestival.org.