Pasadena Playhouse clashes with writer over play’s title

A view of the Pasadena Playhouse.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

The Pasadena Playhouse has found itself in a disagreement with a writer over a new stage comedy titled “Tales of a Fourth Grade Lesbo.”

Gina Young, the author of the play, said that the company told her they had problems with the title of the piece, specifically the word “Lesbo,” a sometimes pejorative slang term for “lesbian.” Performances that would have taken place at the Carrie Hamilton Theatre -- the company’s approximately 90-seat space -- have been called off.

“Tales” had been intended as a rental production in which the Pasadena Playhouse receives a fee for the use of the Carrie Hamilton Theatre, but it is not involved artistically in the production.

According to Young, Sheldon Epps, the company’s artistic director, told her in an email that the title has “caused challenges to our branding efforts which we choose not to face for internal reasons at this time.”


Epps said in a phone interview that he initially had some concerns with the word in the title. “They are the same concerns I would have if a play had the N-word or the F-word in the title,” he explained.

“I think that I have clearly demonstrated in my 15 years here that this is a theater of inclusivity that would never ban or reject a play from our stage on the basis of censorship.”

Epps said that after learning that the word can be used as a term of empowerment in the lesbian community, he no longer has objections to the play’s title.

The play tells the story of four pre-teen girls and their explorations of sexuality. It had two performances in June at the Highways Performance Space in Santa Monica.


Young said the Playhouse offered a compromise in which they could rent the theater but would have to hire an outside ticket vendor and agree to not be represented on company’s website or in any of its marketing material.

She said that the cast of “Tales” has declined the Playhouse’s offer. Epps stated that he is open to further discussions with the creative team of the play.


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