To claim that Celeste Lecesne, Academy Award-winning screenplay writer of the short film Trevor and Co-founder of the Trevor Project, is any less than a beacon of queer joy and transformative storytelling would be doing them an immense disservice. Their writing is warm, inspiring and hilariously witty, so it is no surprise that their new play, POOF! (Or What the Fairies Know), is filled to the brim with witty lines and precious moments.
Before the show began, the audience took in the minimal yet vibrant set design. Mason jars filled with fairy lights hung in the air, adding a delicate brightness to the space, which consisted of a backdrop displaying pink oil-painted roses, a wooden chest, a stool, and a decorative feathery plant in a vase. The audience acknowledged the space and chatted with anticipation. Then the twinkling jingle of bells beckons for our attention above our heads. Our focus shifts from the stage to the mezzanine, where we see Lecesne in full fairy attire, greeting us with excitement and endearing giggles. As they made their way to the stage, they met every audience member and greeted them with an "ooh," "ah," and a gesture. They settled in at the front of the stage and the story began.
In the show, the term "fairy" is used to identify Lecesne as a member of the fae and nod to its roots in queer culture. The result was a play that intertwined magic, queerness, and acceptance. Lecesne explores all these themes alongside us with wit, poetics, and honesty. Whether it's them coming out as a fairy to their parents or inspiring a young student to "see themselves in the light of who they see themselves to be." The journey we embarked on was queer and sincere.
That isn't to say there aren't trials and tribulations of existing as a fairy. Lecesne recounts the pain of knowing that others will boldly commit themselves to hurt what should be cherished, whether that be the planet or their loved ones. A disposition quite foreign and disheartening but as Lecesne recounts, some people "won't change, not even for the world."
Even with all of these beautiful moments and expressive language, there were times when I found myself not fully following the story. As new points of conversation or new characters were introduced, I struggled to connect past moments or how we arrived at the present ones.
Luckily Lecesne would only leave us alone for a short time before interacting with us directly, offering us affirmations and teaching us to use our wands (red pencils given out alongside our program). The wands are conduits of our manifestations but only if we acknowledge that whatever we want to manifest, the conduit- can do it. It was wonderful.
"POOF! (Or What the Fairies Know)" written and performed by Celeste Lecesne was just another warm reminder of Lecesne's dedication to making art that makes you feel safe, seen, and cherished.
"POOF! (Or What the Fairies Know)”
Written & performed by Celeste Lecesne
Directed by Kevin Hourigan
Dixon Place (1614 Chrystie Street)
Jackie Leon is a playwright and actor inspired by the subversive. They recently graduated with a BFA in Musical Theatre at Marymount Manhattan College. As a first-generation American and Afro-Colombian Jackie writes through the lens of shattered rose colored-glasses. Their audio play," Ghost Talk: Peach Street" has been featured at Scawwy Howwow Inc. on their Podcast, "Found Cassettes" and their one-act cosmic horror play "RASA" is currently in production. They have also recently had the honor to be a part of the 24-hour Play Festival at INTAR and was cast in Catskill Mountain Shakespeare's production of Midsummer Night's Dream as their Lysander.