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‘Plot Point in Our Sexual Development’ dissects a history of trans love

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Along with Father/Daughter at Aurora Theatre in Berkeley, there are currently two shows in which intimate relationship dramas are played out over a prominent piece of furniture that sits center-stage. The divan in the New Conservatory Theatre Center production of Plot Points in Our Sexual Development (running through December 19) closely resembles the type of chaise lounge often associated with psychiatry, serving as both a clue to how the characters got here and a nod to how sincerity is as necessary in therapy as with one’s spouse.

Granted, we don’t meet our characters during a therapy session, but it seems likely that one was the impetus behind the exercise in which we find them. Cecily (Akaina Ghosh) and her trans partner Theo (Ezra Reaves) are recounting their sexual histories over a bottle of red. Not just when they first had sex and with whom, but also their personal histories of understanding sex as a concept. They tell of elementary school classmates who went on and on about what did and didn’t get your pregnant, and accidental encounters with inanimate objects that wound up resulting in orgasms. Both recount a number of boys (and grown men) and the looks those guys would give them. There’s a particularly hilarious story as to why Cecily has an affinity for a certain “c”-word.

Most of all, they recall and understand just how they truly became aware of their own bodies. These tales range from a Catholic upbringing in which non-marital sex was associated with STDs, to having sex explained by an audio tape during a trip to Hershey Park. We audience members are taken by the hand and guided through each partner’s sexual awakening, which produced as much terror as they did joy. The fourth wall is occasionally broken, for an intimate exchange of heartbreak tales and hot moments of passion that go beyond any simple exchange between partners. The two interact with us, seemingly because it lets them know they aren’t alone in these experiences. 

But why, you may wonder, are they sharing these stories at all, if not for our amusement? (Or edification—the production is being presented in partnership with the San Francisco Office of Transgender Initiatives and the Transgender District.) After all, the back-and-forth nature of their exchange has an almost-vaudevillian air of two comedians trying to one-up each other by telling the same joke different ways, a là The Aristocrats. But it becomes clear that Cecily and Thea aren’t competing with one another—or at least, they shouldn’t be. Though no therapist is explicitly mentioned, we learn their exchange is a deliberate couple’s exercise meant to seal a crack that has developed in their relationship.

Incidentally, the couple telling us how they became comfortable in their own bodies have never been completely comfortable with each other’s bodies. It’s the sort of thing someone would mistakenly dismiss as a non-issue, until it very much becomes an issue. The longer it’s ignored, the worse it becomes, and Cecily and Thea may have finally reached a breaking point. They’ve turned their respective sex lives into narratives, because they want to how this most recent twist came about.

Under the direction of Leigh Rondon-Davis (star of a similarly intimate couples’ drama at the Shotgun Players last year), the humor and, for lack of a better term, danger of Miranda Rose Hall’s script doesn’t drag, even at a brisk 55-minute runtime. No matter your identity or sexual history, its recounting is bound to include surprise delights and sad, missed opportunities. By placing the action in the round of a set walled with framed tchotchkes (no specific scenic designer is named), Rondon-Davis intentionally blurs the line between the audience-as-mere-observer and audience-as-intruder; we feel we shouldn’t be here, but we can’t miss the next story told.

The always-reliable Akaina Ghosh (who I’ve directed before, in a short play for Shotz! SF) adds another impressive and natural performance to their resume, bringing both a great deal of humor to Cecily’s Catholic guilt, and an air of tragedy in imparting the knowledge that their romance may have soured. I’m not familiar with the work of Ezra Reaves, but he is fully realized as a character that would otherwise just be a plot point in the tired story of a straight girl’s sex history. 

Of the two shows currently running on both sides of the Bay, Plot Points in Our Sexual Development finds its edge in the way its story and characters unfold, rather than being forced upon the audience. Granted, both shows are well-directed, with strong racial- and gender-diverse casts. What’s more, they both take place in theaters that allow for just big enough of an audience to make an impression, yet small enough that hopefully everyone feels comfortable.

Because when dealing with the topic of body image and sexual history, the comfort of everyone involved—including the public—needs to be the highest priority.

PLOT POINTS IN OUR SEXUAL DEVELOPMENT Runs through December 19. New Conservatory Theatre Center, SF. More info and tickets here.

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‘Yellowstone’ Star Reveals Which Cast Member Is the Funniest

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Yellowstone is about as dramatic as a television show can get, but that doesn’t mean it’s always serious all the time. Though the smash Paramount Network show is hardly a comedy, actor Kelsey Asbille says there are quite a few moments of levity between takes — especially from one cast member in particular.

“It’s a really fun group, and we just really like spending time with each other,” Asbille — who portrays Monica Dutton on the show — tells Taste of Country in an interview to promote Season 4 of the smash hit show.

“Especially this past season, because we were kind of in a bubble,” she says. “We were one of the first shows to start production during the pandemic, so really, all we could see was each other.”

“It was lovely, man,” Asbille continues. “We have a great time. Nothing too exciting, we just like hanging out.”

Though the tone of the show is quite dark at times, Asbille reveals that there are plenty of fun moments that viewers don’t get to see.

“They should do a reel, honestly,” she says with a laugh. “There is a lot of laughter that you would not expect, especially with Luke [Grimes, who plays Asbille’s TV husband, Kayce Dutton]. Luke can get the whole crew laughing very easily. So yeah, I would say a lot of our outtakes … we have fun, despite the circumstances.”

Yellowstone‘s Season 4 has brought big changes to Monica, Kayce and their son, Tate (Brecken Merrill). Tune in to Yellowstone every Sunday night at 8PM ET on the Paramount Network to keep track of the latest, and stay tuned to Taste of Country as we provide week-to-week coverage of Yellowstone and the first season of the upcoming prequel 1883, including episode analysis, news on the shows, cast interviews and more.

As part of our comprehensive coverage, check out the new Dutton Rules podcast on Apple Podcasts and Spotify.

1883 is set to premiere on Dec. 19 and will air exclusively on Paramount+. Subscribe to the streaming service to make sure you don’t miss out.

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See Inside ‘Yellowstone’ Star Ryan Bingham’s Gorgeous $2.45 Million Estate

Yellowstone star and singer-songwriter Ryan Bingham has listed his 3-bedroom, 3.5-bathroom, 2,394-square-foot home in an exclusive area of Los Angeles for sale, and pictures show a beautiful, luxurious property that offers stunning mountain views.

 

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Exclusive: Trump’s social media venture seeks $1 billion raise – sources

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Dec 1 (Reuters) – Former President Donald Trump’s new social media venture is seeking to raise up to $1 billion by selling shares to hedge funds and family offices at several times the valuation it commanded in a deal with a blank-check acquisition firm in October, two people familiar with the matter said.

Trump Media & Technology Group, which has yet to roll out the social media app it says it is developing, already stands to receive $293 million if its deal to list in New York through a merger with blank-check firm Digital World Acquisition Corp (DWAC.O) is completed.

The deal valued Trump Media at $875 million, including debt. Trump Media is now seeking to raise up to an additional $1 billion at a valuation of close to $3 billion, to reflect Digital World’s share rally after Trump supporters and day traders snapped up the stock, the sources said.

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It is the clearest indication yet that Trump and the Digital World dealmakers are seeking to capitalize on the market euphoria around their venture, which has so far been fueled by its ambitious goals rather than a business that is up and running.

Digital World shares were valued at $10 each in the deal with Trump Media. Trump Media is now looking to secure a so-called private investment in public equity (PIPE) that would value Digital World shares closer to their recent price, the sources said.

The sources added that Digital World shares may be valued based on a 20% discount of their 10-day, volume-weighted average price.

The sources requested anonymity because the matter is confidential. Trump Media and Digital World did not respond to requests for comment. Bloomberg News reported last month that the companies were seeking to raise a PIPE without any details on its terms.

Digital World shares soared on Wednesday, as investors welcomed the news that the PIPE could dilute existing Digital World shareholders less than they expected by pricing at a level much higher than the customary $10 per share seen in most mergers with blank-check firms.

The shares, which had been trading down 6% before news of the $1 billion raise, rallied to close up 7% at $44.35 on Nasdaq, then extended gains in after-hours trade, rocketing up 31%, to $58.01.

Most PIPE transactions are inked before a deal to take a company public is rolled out, and it is far from certain that the companies will raise the entire $1 billion they are seeking following their deal announcement. Many Wall Street firms have snubbed the opportunity to invest, and many of the investors participating in the confidential road shows for the PIPE are hedge funds, family offices and high net-worth individuals, the sources said. Family offices manage the wealth of the very rich and their kin.

Weighing on the deal’s appeal is the reluctance of many investors to associate with Trump after he was banned from top social media platforms for encouraging his supporters to participate in the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, which was based on unsubstantiated claims of widespread fraud in last year’s presidential election.

Some hedge funds that backed the launch of Digital World, including Saba Capital Management and Lighthouse Investment Partners, have said they sold their shares to distance themselves from the Trump deal.

The deal also faces regulatory risk. U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren asked Securities and Exchange Commission Chairman Gary Gensler last month to investigate the planned merger for potential violations of securities laws around disclosure. The SEC has declined to comment on whether it plans any action. read more

Trump Media and Digital World have asked investors to finalize commitments to the PIPE by the middle of December, the sources said.

In a PIPE road show attended by one of the sources, investors were asked to commit between $10 million and $20 million. Neither Trump nor Digital World executives made an appearance, and the investor presentation was led by David Boral, the president of EF Hutton, an investment bank that advised Digital World on the deal, the source said. A Trump Media representative was also in attendance, the source added.

But Trump has been personally involved. He has been calling some investors to ask them to make a commitment to the PIPE of more than $100 million, the second of the sources said.

Investors attending the road show were shown a demo from the planned social media app, called TRUTH Social, which looked like a Twitter feed, the sources said.

BIG PLANS

Trump has said he is launching his own social media app to stand up against the companies that have barred him from their platforms. He had 89 million followers on Twitter, 33 million on Facebook and 24.5 million on Instagram at the time he was blocked, according to a presentation on his company’s website.

Since Trump was voted out of office last year, he has repeatedly dropped hints that he might seek the presidency for a third time in 2024.

Special purpose acquisition companies such as Digital World had lost much of their luster with retail investors before the Trump media deal came along. Many of these investors were left with big losses after the companies that merged with SPACs failed to deliver on their ambitious financial projections.

TRUTH Social is scheduled for a full rollout in the first quarter of 2022, and is the first of three stages in the Trump Media plan, followed by a subscription video-on-demand service called TMTG+ that will feature entertainment, news and podcasts, according to the news release.

In a slide deck on its website, the company envisions eventually competing against Amazon.com’s AWS cloud service and Google Cloud.

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Reporting by Krystal Hu in New York
Additional reporting by Echo Wang in New York
Editing by Greg Roumeliotis and Leslie Adler

Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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