Kathleen Warnock’s ‘Rock the Line: They Sold Their Souls for Rock and Roll’

Rock the LineNEW YORK — Kathleen Warnock’s play Rock the Line tells stories of people whose lives aren’t often honestly explored in the arts. The play doesn’t look down on the people because they’re working class, and (mostly) queer. They’ve had to make hard choices and keep quiet about who they truly are. In their close community of fans, lifelong friendships are made as life on the road shapes these fans’ lives.

In the parking lot of a Rust Belt rock club, in the mid-1990s, a group of fans arrives early on the morning of a show to get the best spots to see their idol, rock icon Patti Roxx, up close and personal. It’s their mission, their journey, their pilgrimage. They spend the day talking, laughing, arguing, fighting, making up, and drawing blood. Alliances shift and lives change by the time the doors open. The fans love Patti because she understands them: Together they’re a band of outsiders who form a community that doesn’t question why you’d sell your soul for rock and roll.

Director Mark Finley writes: “In the LGBTQIA+ community we get so much necessary support from our families of choice. Rock the Line is about the kinship between die-hard super-fans. But to me it’s also about the everyday bravery a queer person needs not only to survive in this world, but to thrive in it. It’s about what it’s like to dare and the impact those who dare have on others.  It does all this with great honesty, humor and bad-assery.  I love it.”

Warnock says that Rock the Line is inspired by her years of following Joan Jett & the Blackhearts up and down the East Coast, and a few other places (Denmark, Australia, Palm Springs). One of Warnock’s favorite writing credits are the liner notes to the Joan Jett CD, “Unfinished Business.”

Warnock says: “This play started, as many of mine do, as a short play called “I’m Gonna Run Away,” and was the first piece I wrote about the world of being a hardcore fan. It kept growing as I continued to roadtrip to many (well over 100) Joan Jett & the Blackhearts shows. Under the guidance of Tina Howe at Hunter College, and the late, great Doric Wilson (my fairy godmother and godfather), I expanded the play into a full-length. Doric offered me a reading in TOSOS’s Robert Chesley/Jane Chambers Playwrights Project. I got a production out of that reading, with Emerging Artists Theatre. Doric always told me he wished that TOSOS had produced the play. And now, we are!”

Rock The Line is produced by TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence), directed by Mark Finley, and previews January 11-13, opening January 14 at The Flea Theater, where it runs through February 4th. Performances are at 7 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday. An ASL-interpreted performance is on Jan. 20. Tickets start at $35. To purchase tickets or find out more information https://www.tososnyc.org/rocktheline.

Kathleen Warnock’s (she/her) plays have been produced in New York, London, Dublin (Ireland and Georgia), Australia, and lots of places in the U.S. Recent productions include The Butt Trumpet and Unseasonable, (International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival); How to Get Married in Five Steps and 17 Years, (Project Y, IDGTF, Lower East Side Theater Festival), as well as The Further Adventures of…” (NY Fringe, IDGTF) Outlook, (IDGTF) and That’s Her Way, (Frigid Fest, IDGTF) all presented by TOSOS. Some Are People was produced by Emerging Artists Theatre in New York and Dublin, and at Philadelphia GayFest. Grieving for Genevieve was presented by En Avant Playwrights at the Midtown International Theater Festival, and by Venus Theater (MD). Rock the Line was originally produced by Emerging Artists Theatre, and later produced by Venus Theater. 

Kathleen founded and curates the reading series Drunken! Careening! Writers! at KGB Bar the third Thursday of every month (since 2004). She is Associate Artistic Director for Community & Partnerships for TOSOS, Ambassador of Love for North America for the International Dublin Gay Theatre Festival, proud member of The Dramatists Guild, and on the Honor Roll of women playwrights. She writes for Gay City News and other publications. Kathleen is a member of Community Board #1, Queens.

Mark Finley Director (he/him) is the artistic director of TOSOS and has directed many of its acclaimed productions including Doric Wilson’s Street Theater, a 2016 IT Award Winner for Outstanding Revival. Also at TOSOS: Robert Macke’s House of Chavis, a streamed production of Robert Heide’s The Bed, Jewelle Gomez’s Waiting for Giovanni and Leaving the Blues (Audelco nominees/winners), Chris Weikel’s Secret Identity and “Merril Mushroom’s Bar Dykes and Virginia Baeta’s Damaged Goods (with Emerging Artists Theatre). He made his Off-Broadway directorial debut with Chris Weikel’s Penny Penniworth. Mark is also a teacher, author, actor and a graduate of the University of North Carolina School of the Arts.

TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence) is New York City’s oldest and longest producing professional LGBTQIA+ theater company. In 1974, Off-Off-Broadway veteran Doric Wilson, cabaret star Billy Blackwell and director Peter dell Valle, started the first professional gay theatre company in NYC. It was called The Other Side of Silence, or TOSOS for short. In 2002, directors Mark Finley and Barry Childs, and playwright Wilson resurrected TOSOS. Today, the company has produced over 30 mainstage shows and so many readings of new plays and works in progress we have trouble counting them all. www.tososnyc.org

Leave a Reply

  • (will not be published)