About five years ago, at a rehearsal in the Back Bay for the True Colors LGBT youth theater, a teenage performer improvised a speech that turned Abe Rybeck’s head.
“She said, ‘Why should I have to take two trains and a bus just to be who I really am? I want to be out in my own neighborhood.’ And it hit me like a great slap in the face, and I thought, that is worth having a theater company about,” says Rybeck, the founder and executive artistic director of The Theater Offensive.
The Theater Offensive arose from guerrilla street performances in the angriest, scariest days of the AIDS epidemic in the late 1980s. Then its LGBT members were fighting for visibility, equity, and health care. Times are different now, and so is the troupe as it celebrates its 25th anniversary.