Rust Belt to stage ’When I Knew and How It Saved Me’ April 20-21

The Rust Belt Theater Company will present its fourth-annual production of “When I Knew and How it Saved Me” at 8 p.m. on Friday, April 20, and Saturday April 21 at Calvin Center in Youngstown. The musical revue style show, featuring locally created music, monologues, and artwork, will paint a picture of gay culture in the Youngstown area.

“I created the show four years ago to help put an authentic face on the local LGBT community and its supporters,” said Rust Belt Executive Director Robert Dennick Joki. “Gay people are more than just stereotypes, gay bars, and pride parades. We are hard working, productive members of the community. We have families and responsibilities. We are just like everyone else. But the show isn’t just about gay people. It’s about anyone who has struggled to find themselves and the journey to get there.”

Contributers include Joki, Kage Coven, Jenn Caventer, Brittiani Ketcham, Sam Luptak Jr, Tess Tessier, Nikita Jones, Rick Morrow, Josh Taylor, Rick Haldi, Nicole Zayas, Crystal Beiersdorfer, Bernadette Lim, Beth Farrow, Tom Smith, Kerri Rickard, Dana Vlock, and Joyce Jones.

This year, audience members will be given the opportunity to become part of the performance. Survey cards will be passed out prior to the show for anyone who would like to participate. Information from the cards will then be added to the performance as the show progresses.

There will also be a voter registration table in the lobby of the Calvin Center for this event.  “As an ally, it saddens me that members of the gay community are still having to fight for equality. The only way to change that is to become more active politically. I encourage everyone to become registered and to vote.” said Nicole Zayas, Rust Belt Theater Company operations manager .

The show was honored last year at the Youngstown Area Community Theater Alliance as the Best Special Theatrical Event of 2011. A reception will follow each performance.

Local artists Jynger Benadum and Stephen Eaker will also be on hand each night, creating artwork inspired by the performances.

Tickets are $15 general admission and $10 for students and seniors. For reservations, call or text 330-507-2358. The Rust Belt Theater Company is located in the Calvin Center at 755 Mahoning Ave., just outside of downtown Youngstown.

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