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September 25, 1997 - Image 22

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Text
Publication:
The Michigan Daily, 1997-09-25

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108 - The Michigan Daily Weeken d Magazine -- Thursday, October 10, 1996

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Clockwise from upper left: Writer/director
Patrick Burton. Cookie, played by William
Gibbs. House members (R-L) Johnny,
played by Russel Taylor; Tee, played by
Christopher Jones; Paris, played by Greg
McLellan; and Miss Marlena, played by
Demetris Taylor. The cast takes a bow
after their first public performance. Paris
and Willie, played by Adriel Thorntont.
Burton filming Cookie and cast during a
rehearsal.

Performance art has always been a focus of Detroit native Patrick Burton. Since gradu-
ating from the Art Institute of Chicago in 1983, he has been heavily involved in estab-
lishing a performance art presence in the city of Detroit. In his current work, "Punk,"
Burton showcases both his writing and directorial talents. The play, which is now showing at
1515 Broadway in Detroit, deals with the experiences shared by a group of gay men who are
living "in the life" in Detroit from the late '70s through the early '90s. All of the characters
in the play were based on Burton's personal experiences as well as interviews with people in
the gay community.
The main character, Paris, based largely on Burton's own life, seeks friendship and com-
fort with an adopted family of gay men. The family serves as both mentors for Paris and as
an aid in personal growth during his coming of age. Some of the other characters include
Miss Marlena, the surrogate drag-queen mother of the household; Mr. Williamson, an older
and wiser man; and Willie, a confused and frustrated man who struggles with his own addic-
tions and identity. This group allows the characters to find a new sense of family after being
rejected by their biological families.
Burton wrote "Punk" in order to reclaim the stories of a gay past that went untold and
largely ignored. And while the story deals with the past, as Burton puts it, "our stories of
yesterday will help us in trying to define ourselves today, and will also help us begin the
ealing process in our community, where I serve as an artist."
Photostory by Margaret Myers

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