|Mal Malme and Ian Michaels in Burning by Ginger Lazarus|
Playing the role of Cy Burns in Burning, has since the very beginning, terrified me. In 2010, when playwright Ginger Lazarus asked me to read the part of Cy for the one act she crafted for Queer Soup Theater’s night of “Queering the Classics,” I knew through to my core, that this was a role that would push my every button.
Three years later, after many drafts and staged readings, months of research, and nearly a month of intense rehearsal, I’m still terrified. But I’m supposed to be. Because this play, this story, is so important. There is no other way to play this role than to dedicate everything I have as an actor, as a lifelong LGBT activist, and as a friend of former service members who served before and during Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. People I care about shared with me the unimaginable horror and injustice they experienced while serving our country. Playing the role of Cy allows me to give a voice to the torment and silence that those I care about, and countless others who served, have suffered. Moreover, it allows me to give voice to their courage, honor, and dignity.
It is a responsibility that inspires and propels me to inhabit every moment onstage. For whatever reason, be it luck, timing, Ginger’s endless faith in me, but I am the one who gets to be the vehicle for Cy’s story. I know I will be forever changed by this experience, this story. My hope is that the audience will be too. And that Burning can be a catalyst for change to end the silence and abuse in the military.
-- Mal Malme, actor