Main menu


Queer VOICES Theater Project comes to TACAW this weekend | Arts & Entertainment

featured image

Growing up in the Roaring Fork Valley, Bryan Alvarez-Terrazas said they saw very minimal LGBTQIA+ community or visibility or stories of queerness being shared. Today, Alvarez-Terrazas is among a group of local queer artists changing that narrative.

Coming to The Arts Campus At Willits this weekend is the first-ever Queer VOICES Theater Project. Using movement, live music, spoken word and other theatrical techniques, an ensemble of queer performers will express their stories surrounding the struggles and joys of being able to live as their true, authentic selves.

The VOICES production titled, “A Green Bird On Orange Trees,” will be presented at TACAW for a three-day run, with 7:30 pm showtimes on Friday and Saturday and a 4 pm performance on Sunday. Each performance will feature additional programming — including Friday night’s post-show Q&A moderated by Aspen Public Radio’s Halle Zander, as well as an after-party celebration on Saturday and a pre-show activity by Gay4Good and AspenOut on Sunday.

In the months leading up to this weekend’s production and celebratory events, the cast and crew members of “A Green Bird On Orange Trees” have been working very closely with one another to open up, share their stories and craft those personal experiences into a performance for the stage. It’s been a process for which ensemble member Alvarez-Terrazas expressed sincere gratitude.

“I’m really grateful for this experience to share these stories that, in the past, haven’t really been able to be voiced,” Alvarez-Terrazas said. “And so being able to hold that space in the community — to give myself and all the other cast members the voice and platform to highlight our visibility and the power that we hold — will hopefully inspire others to do the same.”

Alvarez-Terrazas — who leads the Equity Action Project at MANAUS and is a co-creator and performer of The Roaring Divas drag queen group — said this is their first time to work in the realm of device theater storytelling, as well as their first participation in VOICES project.

Alvarez-Terrazas said the story they’ve been crafting to bring to the stage this weekend is one that has been bubbling up for awhile and explained how their performance piece calls out and challenges the dichotomy between machismo and queerness in Mexican culture.

“This piece was really a letter and my stance against machismo that has permeated and existed throughout Mexican culture,” Alvarez-Terrazas said. “For me, it was really important to speak directly to that experience of what it means to grow up in a Mexican household that has a lot of really beautiful aspects and at the same time, holds a lot of homophobia and transphobia and machismo.”

Alvarez-Terrazas’ piece will take shape on stage through a spoken-word monologue, accompanied by physical movement performed by some of their fellow cast members. Alvarez-Terrazas added that being able to speak their truth through this method of performance and with this platform has been heartwarming and opening in many ways.

“To be able to dive into this device theater approach, and to have the platform that VOICES has and to do it at TACAW, has been really inspiring and taps into a different side of what I’m capable of and what I can do as to perform,” Alvarez-Terrazas said. “This process has just opened me up to what I’m capable of, what each of us as performers are capable of and the different ways to tell stories.”

Co-directed by Cassidy Willey and Art Williams — who also is performing as part of the ensemble — “A Green Bird On Orange Trees” weaves together solo and group pieces expressed through a range of artistic disciplines. From spoken-word monologues, to more theatrical-based acts and live music sets, the Queer VOICES production is a “beautiful woven tapestry of personal stories,” as Willey described it.

“We start in this almost imaginative space, where it feels like a folk tale, it feels like something very accessible — it’s very comfortable — and it’s an invitation to the audience to come on this journey with us,” Willey said.

From there, the production moves into more of a “galvanizing and empowering piece,” the co-director said, rallying together all of the artists, their backgrounds and the ways in which they identify. Willey mentioned that there are also a handful of bilingual stories incorporated into “A Green Bird On Orange Trees,” Alvarez-Terrazas’ piece among them.

“Queer is so encompassing; in this small ensemble, we have people who identify in every way,” Willey said. “As with any VOICES project, no matter who we’re centering and which stories we’re centering, the themes are universal, and I think that everyone can find something of themselves reflected on this stage whether or not they are part of the community we train.”

Willey — who is currently a program developer and the lead teaching artist for VOICES — explained that while there have been queer participants in all of the former VOICES theater projects, this particular production is the first time the organization has centered on queer artists.

Throughout the rehearsal process and in working with her co-director, Williams — who identifies as part of the queer community — Willey said that one thing specifically was brought to her attention. As someone who does not identify as part of the queer community herself, Willey hadn’t realized that there are not a lot of intentionally queer spaces in the valley, of which aren’t related to a happy hour or après-ski party and drinking scene, she said.

“And so to create an intentionally queer space, where queer people can come and be with other queer people — and not be drinking and not be partying but really just connecting — has been really special,” Willey said. “And it’s something that Art and others a part of this process as well, feel doesn’t necessarily exist in a lot of other venues, at least in the valley.”

From the connections built between the cast and crew behind the scenes of the Queer VOICES Theater Project, to those that will be stirred through the storytelling this weekend at TACAW, Willey said she hopes that “A Green Bird On Orange Trees” evokes a deeper sense of empathy in people.

“I would say the audience is definitely going to feel challenged and enlightened,” Willey said. “I hope people feel more connected to the human experience and realize that these stories are everybody’s stories.”

Tickets to any of the three showings this weekend are $25, with “pay what you can” options available. The first 50 tickets sold receive a free drink pass, and all Saturday night ticket holders are invited to join the cast for an after party at TACAW — which is being hosted by AspenOut and will feature DJ Simon Klein, or “The Guest.” Tickets can be purchased at