By Peter Shipley
Assistant Director, Stu for Silverton

Stu Rasmussen’s life is important. That’s what we believe here at the Intiman Theatre Festival. We believe it so deeply that we’re hard at work creating a new musical that will bring his story to thousands of audience members this summer. When he was elected Mayor of Silverton, Oregon, in 2008 as an openly transgender person, he got the attention of the national media, but that’s not the whole story – the whole story has the ability to reach our hearts and minds as we grow as a national community. Let’s take a step back, however, and assume for a moment that Intiman isn’t producing a summer festival this year and that Stu for Silverton isn’t being rehearsed as I type.


Stu’s fifteen minutes are up, and they have been for a few years now. The national focus has no reason to be on Silverton in the spring of 2013. There’s a chance, albeit a small one, that you might bring Stu up in conversation, maybe to someone who’s never heard of him, or maybe you’re remembering a story you saw on the news years ago about a transgender mayor. Stu’s not on many tongues – he’s in the background as the world continues to spin. The truth is, we as a country are content with what little we know about Stu’s story, and those of us who don’t even know who he is aren’t yearning to find out. The first transgender person elected mayor in the USA… interesting…what’s his name? Stu?… ah well that was fun… next?

This is how we treat information these days, we get the quick details and we move on looking for something else to stimulate us. We search the Internet for something crazy a celebrity did, maybe there’s a political scandal, or better yet, there’s a nasty court case to follow. We’re hungry for intrigue and as soon as we’re fed we’re ready for more – this time in a different flavor. But while we’re craving juicy new stories to focus our quick moving attentions on, people like Stu are living their lives and continuing to make hard, brave choices.

So the simple fact is that if we weren’t hard at work on Stu for Silverton for it’s summer debut nothing would change. Life would go on and nobody would be the wiser. But the world needs to be wiser. Stu is so much more than his fifteen minutes gave him credit for. He has the power to give confidence to those who feel lost and confused, perspective to people whose minds need changing, and hope to those who believe they are out of options. Producing this musical is exactly what theater is about – bringing into focus those among us who have the power to inspire. And it’s our responsibility as storytellers to lift these people up for all to see.

This is why so many of us are devoting hours and hours to this production – it needs to be out there, it needs to be seen. If a story with this much heart stayed in a small town like Silverton forever, it would be an unspeakable waste. Stu must rise again. And he’ll do just that – this summer, at the Intiman Theater Festival.