by Megan Hageman
Prepare to laugh, cry, and embrace the sissy way of life.
After 30 years of theater involvement – acting, writing, and even developing his own theater company – Mark Phillips Schwamberger will take on a completely new kind of role: himself.
Through the Evolution Theater Company, and with the help of director Joe Bishara of The Abbey Theatre of Dublin, Schwamberger stars in the upcoming one-man production, The Sissy Chronicles. This touching yet comic performance paints a picture of the trials and triumphs its author navigated through life as a gay man.
With the world premiere of The Sissy Chronicles, Schwamberger hopes to inspire other members of the LGBTQ+ community to find pride in their identity and what makes them different – similar to his own unapologetic message of self-acceptance.
“Yeah I’m a sissy, big deal,” he declares.
The Buckeye Flame connected with Schwamberger to dive further into his acting career and inspiration for his latest endeavor.
Did you always know you wanted to be an actor?
Not always, no. Growing up, at one point I wanted to be a dentist, a policeman, anything like that. But it soon became obvious – I would say in my college years – that I really wanted to be in the theater. Because, as evident in the show, when you’re a shy individual, being in theater helps. When you’re on stage you’re somebody else. You’re not yourself, so you can break out of your shell because you’re being another character.
Why did you decide to write The Sissy Chronicles?
It brings me back to my main goal of helping people to realize their self-worth and self-acceptance. And, to realize that if you’re a little boy you don’t have to play football, you don’t have to play baseball, it’s okay if you like to play with a Barbie doll, it’s okay if you like ballet. It’s okay and it doesn’t make you less. You’re different than what society says a little boy is, but society’s not always right. The main thing is showing what I went through – being a sissy in my years – it really proves that I’m much stronger than the bullies. The bullies are the weak ones, and I’m the strong one. I got through it and I can be proud and accept who I am. That’s what I want to bring out in this story.
Why was the humor aspect in this play important?
I think in everyone’s life, regardless of what you’ve gone through, everything is a mixture of joy and pain. You have laughter, and a lot of times to get through painful situations you have to put in humor. And there was a lot of humor in my life. I didn’t want this to be a ‘poor me’ piece. I didn’t want people to go, “this is so sad”. Yes, there are sad things that happened, but I wouldn’t change one thing in my past. I wouldn’t change any of the good times and I wouldn’t change any of those miserable, heartbreaking moments, because every one of those made me who I am today. If it didn’t happen I would not be the strong, unique sissy I am today.
How did you come up with the name ‘The Sissy Chronicles’?
You know how the word queer used to be very derogatory, but now people are embracing the word queer – queer nation, queer theater? The same thing went for sissy. Sissy has always been a derogatory term.
So I thought, why not just put it out there and say, “Yeah I’m a sissy, big deal. Get over it.” So, that’s why I decided to do the Sissy Chronicles. And, chronicles because this is a collection of the chronological progression of my life. So, that’s why I decided on this title. It may be a little in your face, but sometimes you have to be in your face.
What do you hope members of the LGBTQ+ community will take away from this play?
You can look at it whether you’re gay, a lesbian, transsexual, bisexual, whatever – because it really has to do with accepting who you are, and not being afraid, and not hiding. But, sort of striking back, not in the sense of physically striking back, but striking back in the sense of standing up and saying ‘I’m proud of who I am. I fought for this.” So, for the gay community I would like them to take that away.
But, I would also like them to realize that even in the gay community there can be some discrimination against feminine people – people you don’t see as manly – especially in the older gay community. We’re all different, and we’re all in this world together, and we all want the same things. So, let’s just get over it. So I’m a sissy, big deal. So you’re butch, I don’t care. You can like football, but let me like my dolls and my ballet. We should all just be accepting and we should not be ashamed of who we are. So that’s really what I want the gay community to realize – that we’re all okay to be who we are.
The world premiere of The Sissy Chronicles will be available to be streamed online at the following dates and times:
- Thursday, September 17, 7:30pm
- Friday, September 18, 7:30pm
- Saturday, September 19, 5:00pm and 7:30pm
- Sunday, September 20, 2:00pm
Tickets are $15 and can be purchased in advance here.
Megan Hageman is a Columbus, Ohio-based freelance writer working within the field of social media and content marketing. Her writing ranges from articles on non-profits to advice for working women to California weddings. Learn more at https://www.meganhageman.com/.