One of The City’s most creative animals is about to bask in the spotlight. Theatre Rhinoceros, which has ushered in thought-provoking LGBT-related works since it stormed onto the scene 30 years ago, will receive a special recognition at the 19th annual Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) Media Awards on Saturday.
This year’s ceremony will also honor Sharon Stone, “The L Word” creator Ilene Chaiken, political activist David Mixner and others. For Theatre Rhinoceros, the award comes at the perfect time — during its third-decade anniversary celebration when attention on its evolution is at an all-time high.
“A lot of ‘gay theaters’ have come and gone, but we’re one of the few that lasted the longest,” says John Fisher, artistic director for Theatre Rhinoceros. “We’ve been a theater about the coming-out process, then a theater about the struggle with AIDS, and now we’re a theater about everything — everything gay, lesbian, bi and trans. We’ve really been able to change and represent what’s new and the most exciting in queer culture.”
Rhino is a perfect fit for GLAAD, a prominent watchdog for the gay and lesbian community that ensures inclusive representation of people and events in the media.
But this year’s event also draws attention to two of The City’s other LGBT allies — Stone and Chaiken. Stone nabs the Vanguard Award, which is presented to media professionals whose work has elevated the visibility and understanding of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.
Chaiken, creator of Showtime’s lesbian-driven dramedy, “The L Word,” receives the Valentini Award. Named after Craig Davidson, GLAAD’s first executive director, and his partner Michael Valentini. The annual honor is given to an openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender media professional whose efforts promote equal rights.
“There have been a lot of people involved in making this one TV show, that to my utter surprise and gratification, has been embraced,” Chaiken says of the show. “And frankly, this is just a TV show. There are so may people out there really doing the great work, dedicating themselves.”
In addition to Stone and Chaiken, the event is expected to attract other celebrities, such as Jennifer Beals, Judith Light, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom and GLAAD President Neil G. Giuliano, among others.
While it’s certainly time to celebrate, Fisher says he’s already thinking about future works, specifically “Ishi,” an LGBT-themed play opening in July that revolves around California’s indigenous Indians.
“It’s not just about homosexuality,” Fisher notes. “It’s about San Francisco and how The City was created by getting rid of the Indians. It’s very political, very historical and it will really confront people with a lot of stuff.”
Would Rhino fans have it any other way?
IF YOU GO
GLAAD Media Awards
Where: Marriott San Francisco, 55 Fourth St., San Francisco
When: 7 p.m. today
Tickets: Call (877) 519-7904 for details.
Note: Benefit event begins at 5 p.m. with cocktails and a silent auction.