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A musical tribute to the 32 LGBT and allied victims of the 1973 arson fire that destroyed the Up Stairs Lounge in New Orleans, LA.
A musical tribute to the 32 LGBT and allied victims of the 1973 arson fire that destroyed the Up Stairs Lounge in New Orleans, LA.
178 backers pledged $10,700 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$10,700

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In 1973, an arson fire destroyed the Up Stairs Lounge in New Orleans, LA, killing 32 people, mostly gay men. In the aftermath, politicians, church leaders, news organizations, and even the local gay community were relatively quiet about the fire. 

This was the only national news coverage:

This disaster marks the largest crime against LGBT people in U.S. history. Yet, today, if the fire is remembered at all, it's as a lesson in the perils of silence for LGBT people. Little is known about the victims of the fire, the heroes that emerged on that day, or the alleged arsonist and his motives. No charges were ever filed. 

As gay playwright and composer from Louisiana, I've had a deeply personal interest in telling the story of the fire's victims, in bringing their voices to life in a way that only theatre can. I've finally begun to realize this longstanding dream. 

My research has revealed so many tales of love, courage, and tragedy. It's uncovered powerful questions about forgiveness, religion, faith, love, and history. It's truly a story worth telling. 

UPSTAIRS is the product of extensive research, years of writing, and the loving efforts of a great cast and crew. A low-budget version of the play is being staged in San Francisco, February 12-14. Visit this site to lean more about these productions, get tickets, and get involved. 

But these productions are only the beginning! Our goal is to take UPSTAIRS to New Orleans for a June 24 production on the 40th Anniversary of the fire!

From there, we will proceed to a Los Angeles premiere and continue to tell this story as long as we can.

This is an independent production, and a labor of love. I have no backers but you. Please give as you are able. 

Risks and challenges

We have already come so far. A complete play is written. It's 90 minutes long, features 13 songs, and has 8 characters. It has a piano score.

The full-scale play will have about 12 characters, a complete score, and a full band.

So the challenges are:
- Recruitment of actors and musicians for the cast and band.
- Travel and lodging expenses in New Orleans.
- New Orleans venue and publicity.

I've mounted many successful productions, but mounting one from a distance takes resources and connections. In addition to financial assistance, you can help by putting me in touch with potential producers or local talent.

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  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $10 or more About $10

    Your name in the program for the New Orleans show.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Program from the SF Bay Area Workshop signed by the entire cast and crew.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    An official Upstairs T-shirt, with our logo. Black with red ink. Your choice of size.

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    Pledge $50 or more About $50

    Digital download of music from the San Francisco Bay Area workshop!

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    Pledge $75 or more About $75

    A signed CD of the music from the SF Bay Area Workshop show (not for resale).

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    Pledge $100 or more About $100

    A signed DVD of the live recording of the SF Bay Area Workshop (not for resale).

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    Pledge $175 or more About $175

    Dinner in San Francisco with director Zach McCallum.

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    Pledge $250 or more About $250

    Dinner in Los Angeles, Orange County, San Francisco, or New Orleans with playwright/composer Wayne Self and any available cast members.

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    Pledge $1,000 or more About $1,000

    Dinner with Wayne Self and the cast and crew of the New Orleans anniversary show.

    Advance ticket to the show. VIP seating.

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Funding period

- (22 days)