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    Playwright Laurinda Brown Exposes Human Nature with Grit & Passion

    laurindaWalk Like a Man dares audience goers to “strap on your attitude and dive into ten different pulsating stories from women who love the way you love, living life on the edge, exploring sexuality uninhibited. Don’t see it alone. It’s so hot with passion you’ll need somebody to cool you off!” The play has its Bay Area premiere, presenter Rheatre Rhino, later this month at San Francisco’s The Costume Shop.

    Based on the best-selling book of the same name, Walk Like a Man is produced and directed by Laurinda Brown, who also wrote the book. We were honored recently to get a chance to interview her.

    Bay Times: Please tell us a bit about your background and how it might have influenced your work. We hear that you are from the South, but that you moved out of Atlanta.

    Laurinda Brown: I live in Prentiss, MS, now. I got married almost three years ago, and my wife “rescued” me from Atlanta. While it’s a great place to visit, I won’t ever live there again. The LGBT community was very supportive of my work, but I never really got comfortable. Personally, I experienced some of the worst hardships of my life in Atlanta, and I have used those experiences in some of my upcoming works. I was on the verge of seclusion, wanting to be in a small town where Internet connections were rare, where my cell phone barely got a signal, and where no one knew me.

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    Prentiss, Mississippi, is small. There is no Internet or phone service some places, and no one freaks out about it. We have one grocery store, one traffic light, two banks, and the post office closes at noon on Thursdays. I would say that the town runs about a mile and a half long. You would think that being here would be hard for a lesbian, but it really hasn’t been. My wife owns a funeral home and is well respected in the community. I love it because it’s quiet and was the first place I ever heard a hummingbird. Yes, it’s that quiet.

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    Bay Times: Please mention some of your role models/mentors, and how they’ve influenced you.

    Laurinda Brown: I still have fantastic relationships with my English teachers from junior and high school. My 6th grade teacher and I had lunch last year, and I realized why I’d admired her so much when I was in her class. She was only like 11 years older than us. My 7th grade English teacher and I are great friends. We talk at least two or three times a month, and she is the reason why I believe in my writing as I do. I had a massive crush on her, and I finally told her about it a couple of years ago. Instead of freaking out, she said, “Nothing would ever change our friendship. Nothing. I’m glad you were able to love me when I had trouble loving myself back then.” She appreciates that I handle my LGBT stories with such great respect and class. (Ha! She’s not read Walk Like A Man!) Then, there’s my high school English teacher who said, “You can never take back words.” With that, I developed an unapologetic way of expressing myself in my writing. It’s gritty, and I like that.

    Bay Times: Please tell us about Walk Like a Man, and what led to your writing it.

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    Laurinda Brown: I wrote the book Walk Like a Man as a joke, really. I created these short stories based on some experiences I’d heard about, as well as on situations I’d found myself in. The play arose from my desire to see what these characters would actually look and sound like. I never expected the accolades it’s received—never in a million years.

    Bay Times: How do you hope that audience goers will be affected by Walk Like a Man, and are there any lessons in it that you hope viewers will come away with? 

    Laurinda Brown: I hope that the audience is moved by the words. The most powerful piece in the play is “Mo,” which tells the story of a little girl who sheds her femininity to escape the hands of a neighborhood child molester. It’s heart wrenching, to say the least. I want the audience to see that we are human, and our experiences, no matter our sexual orientation, are quite normal.

    Bay Times: Will you be coming to SF for the Bay Area premiere of Walk Like a Man?

    Laurinda Brown: My wife and I do plan to attend the premiere.

    Bay Times: Have you been here before?

    Laurinda Brown: I visited San Francisco back in 2006 for a Walk Like A Man book signing at A Different Light bookstore.

    Bay Times: What are some of your favorite things to do here or, if you’ve never visited yet, what are you most looking forward to?

    Laurinda Brown: I didn’t have time to visit, but I would really like to explore Castro District.

    Walk Like a Man opens May 28 and runs through June 15, Wednesdays through Saturdays @ 8 p.m., Sundays @ 3 p.m., The Costume Shop, 1117 Market Street at 7th Street. For tickets and additional information, please go to: www.therhino.org