Youtube trailer of documentary about the play
Ugly Ducklings Campaign
Ugly Ducklings Workshop with Gage
Set design for Colby College production
- 2022, excerpted monologue performed by Some1Speaking. (Zoom reading)
- 2020, Western Washington University, Not So Staged Readings. (Zoom reading).
- Nominated by the American Theatre Critics Association for their Steinberg/ATCA New Play Award. (Best New Play of the Year Outside NYC)
- National Lesbian Theatre Award, Curve Magazine, San Francisco.
- Published in The Triple Goddess: Three Plays, Gage Press.
- Honorable Mention, “Best New Play in Metro DC,” Metro Weekly Review, Washington, DC.
- $150,000 documentary, Ugly Ducklings: The Documentary produced and premiered at the Frameline International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival in San Francisco
- Stage Q, Madison, WI.
- Hardy Girls Healthy Women production at Colby College, Waterville, ME. (toured to Camden, ME.)
- Venus Theatre, Washington, DC.
- University of Maine at Machias (staged reading)
- University of West Virginia, Morgantown (reading).
- Published in At Play: An Anthology of Maine Drama, Levant Heritage Library, Levant, ME.
- Made in Maine, Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance (reading), Bangor.
- Workshop production, Bates College, Lewiston, Maine.
- Second Place, Celebration Theatre’s New Play Competition, LA.
Ugly Ducklings examines the unhealthy turns that relationships between girls can take when they are not allowed their natural expression. The so-called “Ophelia Syndrome” comes alive as the cabin of younger girls, their self-esteem still reinforced by the primacy of their relationships, comes into contact with the older girls who have begun to turn against themselves and each other in their attempts to conform to the pressures of compulsory heterosexuality.
Angie, a middle-class college student, is falling in love with another counselor at the camp, Renée, who is a working-class “out” lesbian. Against this backdrop of intense homophobia, the young women struggle with their feelings for each other and the problems of defining themselves in a society that insists they be invisible. The camp legend about a monster in the lake parallels the adult phobias about lesbianism, and, confronted with an attempted child suicide, campers and counselors are compelled to face their worst fears in the microcosmic world of the summer camp.
Ugly Ducklings breaks ranks with male-centered queer drama in foregrounding the experience of women and girls who are survivors of sexual violence and shattering romantic and sentimental conventions about the “gentle sex.”
Nine girls, five women
“If it is possible that a piece of theatre can be both gritty and sublime at the same time, then Venus Theatre has achieved it in their world premiere production of Carolyn Gage’s Ugly Ducklings." Metro Weekly Review, Washington, DC.
“… deserves a central place in the lesbian feminist literary canon...” --off our backs, Washington, DC.
“… refreshingly well told tale that while raising all the issues that this anti-homophobic company and playwright want to raise, does so with an admirable restraint, avoiding the obvious traps of sensationalism and titillation and striking an admirable balance of theatricality and realism.” --Potomac Stages, Washington, DC.
“… a play about coming of age and homophobia and how people deal with emerging understandings about sexuality. It’s a tough, tough, tough topic, and it’s handled here with a great deal of raw energy, but also with a great deal of subtlety… a very, very nice piece… definitely worth seeing.” --Peter Fay for WAMU (NPR affiliate station), Washington, DC.
“Radically redefining beauty… Ugly Ducklings reveals how notions of homosexuality can shatter the souls of girls and women… an impressive work… a brutally honest examination of what it means to be a young lesbian...” --The Washington Blade, Washington, DC.
“Funny, poignant, unpredictable… very well-written. Educational without being preachy. Engaging. Absorbing. Sweet.” --Mariah Burton-Nelson, Athlete, Speaker, Author of Are We Winning Yet?
“… like the best drama, Gage’s play is filled to bursting with sharp-edged double meaning and irony… accessible and engaging format, with the social consciousness of Ibsen and Shaw...” —Assunta Kent, Phd., from introduction to At Play: An Anthology of Maine Drama.
"It's emotionally charged, unrelenting, and smart, smart, smart."—Kate Bornstein, author and activist.
Online Reviews of Ugly Ducklings
'Ugly Ducklings: Scary Fairy Tale with a Happy Ending' by Kate Bornstein, in Kate Bornstein's Blog for Teens, Freaks and Other Outlaws, Dec. 17, 2006.
'Around the Fire: Stories of love, bias, and fear' by Megan Grumbling in The Portland Phoenix, September 9 - 15, 2005.
'Maine Women Writers Collection presents screening of Ugly Ducklings,' Based on a Play by Carolyn Gage,' University of New England Newsletter.
'Ugly Ducklings Unite: A National Campaign Against Lesbian Teen Suicide Becomes A Play and a Movie,' by Aimsel L. Ponti in Curve Magazine, December 2005.
'Ugly Ducklings: A Playwright Teaches How to Play right!' by Georgia Jacobson in New Moon: Magazine for Girls, Sept.-Oct. 2007.
'United States: Play About Homophobia Nominated for National Award' by Carol Anne Douglas in off our backs, Nov.-Dec. 2004.
'Ugly Ducklings at Warehouse Theatre,' by Jolene Munch in Metro Weekly, Washington, DC, April 22, 2004.
'Ugly Ducklings: A National Campaign to Reduce Bullying and Harassment of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Youth' by Hardy Girls Healthy Women in GLSEN Newsletter, May 8, 2007.
'The Ugly Ducklings Campaign' by Carolyn Gage in the Maine Women's Journal, Winter 2006.
'Colby Presents Premiere of Ugly Ducklings' in Colby News, September 12, 2005.
'Ugly Ducklings: How I Came to Write a Play Where the Lesbian Doesn't Kill Herself' by Carolyn Gage, On the Purple Circuit, 2009.
'From Ugly Ducklings A Powerful Message of Hope, Decency' by Bob Keyes, in the Maine Sunday Telegram, September 11, 2005.
'Playwright to Screen Documentary on Relationships Society Imposes on Young Women' in WVU Today (Univ. of West Virginia), April 10, 2007.
'Radically Redefining Beauty' by Kim Krisberg in The Washington Blade, Washington, DC, May 7, 2004.
'Out at the Movies: Ugly Ducklings,'Northern New York's LGBT Film Festival, March-April 2008.
'Bartell's Lesbian Comedy Entertains' by Mollie Levison in The Daily Cardinal, October 18, 2006.