Time:7pm, Screens at dusk
Venue: DRIVE-IN The Players Theatre Parking Lot
WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY Jonathan Wysocki PRODUCERS: Yue Wang Jonathan Wysocki EXECUTIVE PRODUCER Charles Herman-Wurmfeld CASTING DIRECTORS:Meg Morman, CSA & Sunday Boling, CSA DIRECTOR OF PHOTOGRAPHY: Todd Bell EDITOR: Christine Kim MUSIC BY: Chanda Dancy PRODUCTION DESIGN Vanessa Plaza Lazo COSTUME DESIGN: Devon Horn LINE PRODUCER: Albee Zhang SUPERVISING SOUND EDITOR& RE-RECORDING MIXER Colette D. Dahanne,CAS Genre: Coming-of-age; LGBTQIA+ Country: USA
DRAMARAMA | WRITTEN & DIRECTED BY Jonathan Wysocki
2020 | USA | 91 MIN
Escondido, California, 1994. It’s the end of summer and Gene is preparing for his high school drama friends’ final murder mystery slumber party. The theatrical hostess, Rose, will fly off to start college the next morning, followed by earnest Claire, magnetic Oscar, and sarcastic Ally. Yet Gene has bigger problems than being left behind by his best friends: he wants to come out of the closet – but is terrified of what his sheltered Christian best friends might think. Jonathan Wysocki’s nostalgic, funny debut feature is a poignant love letter to drama nerds, late bloomers, and the intense friendships of youth.
From The Director:
Dramarama is a semi-autobiographical film rooted in my memories of growing up in Escondido, California, as a Catholic, closeted gay teen who flourished in the theatre. It was the early 90s, and most peers in my high school were proudly Christian and toed the line on keeping homophobia alive and well. My tightly-knit drama friends and I, however, were full of contradictions: parroting our parents’ conservative beliefs while sneaking out to watch art house films like The Crying Game and The Piano. Looking back, I realized I had never seen teens quite like us on screen. Typically, coming-of-age films favor the rebellious kids who go against the grain and can’t wait to grow up, experimenting with alcohol, drugs and/or sex along the way. We were having bombastic murder mystery parties swilling Martinelli’s non-alcoholic sparkling cider! It felt like there was a cinematic void for the in-betweeners; the uncertain, works-in-progress teens who feared growing up rather than rushing towards adulthood. Another goal in situating Dramarama as an atypical coming out film is that its queer characters are not granted a liberating “coming out” moment. My community in 1994 had no support network for coming out, so all the LGBTQIA+ kids like me and my friends stayed firmly in the closet. And while much progress has been made since then, full equality has yet to arrive. To this day, queer kids still worry about what might happen if they come out, and I wanted this film to reflect that reality so young people know it’s okay to wait if you don’t feel safe or ready. If Dramarama can be seen as a “not-comingof age” film since most of the characters resist change, it can also be seen as a “notcoming out” film that respects late bloomers instead of making them the butt of a joke. The flip side of my youth is that all those strong feelings and repressions had to be channeled somewhere. Enter: the theatre! Drama was the space where I could express myself in boundless ways and rarely get called out for it. It was a license to be free and let it all out. I wanted the close friends in Dramarama to live off the lifeblood of theatrical improvisation, whether it’s bursting into a Sondheim song, inventing a clever double-entendre, or reenacting a scene from the movie Clue. Performance becomes their chosen way to deal with their emotions, inspired by the intense energy, creativity, and humor I witnessed as a drama kid. Lastly, if play-acting is the characters’ safe space, change is the true villain. This is what I believe makes Dramarama universal: everyone can relate to fear of the unknown, and the uncertainty of leaving one life chapter for the next. Growing up is awkward and even scary, but these shared experiences around change can hopefully bind us together. – Jonathan Wysocki
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