Back Talk | Back Talk | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

Published April 17, 2002 at 4:00 a.m.

The city of Burlington dissolved its first civil union last week, creating a couple of “gay divorcés” who may be the subject of an upcoming play. Forty-seven-year-old architect Arthur Tremblay parted ways with 27-year-old Harsh Shah three months after they were married last March in the Queen City. The divorce was finalized last week. “It’s been shattering,” says Tremblay, who claims his ex-partner was cheating on him. “The night of our civil union, he didn’t come home until five. He went to Pearl’s…” Tremblay sees his sad story as a cautionary tale. “Civil union is serious. It’s not an idle thought. It’s not a joke. It’s not something you play with.” Unless, of course, you are dramatist Larry Myers, who is mounting a theater piece based on Tremblay’s wedding woes, according to an article last week in the New York Post. Tremblay confirmed that the play, to be titled Same-Sex Divorce, is scheduled to open this fall in Atlanta. “I haven’t signed anything, but I think he’ll tell it well,” Tremblay says of Myers, who teaches at St. John’s University . . . Rosie O’Donnell is not only a lesbian — she knows her “gay bars.” The talk-show host is apparently a fan of the queer-friendly confection created by Burlington chocolatier Linda Grishman. Her sweet selections will be featured in a September issue of Rosie, along with a number of other unique small businesses. The connection was made without Grishman’s knowledge. “Someone had ordered some chocolate from me. She loved it. She gave some to Rosie. Then all of a sudden she called me,” says Grishman, recalling that her first public relations coup — a phone call from The New York Times — was also a complete surprise. “I don’t have the money to pay a publicist. People find me . . .”

judevine shoots: He don’t talk much in Pieces of April, but Vermont actor Rusty DeWees recently landed a “nice little part” in the indie movie that wrapped on Monday in New York City. Written and directed by Peter Hedges — of What’s Eating Gilbert Grape? fame — the flick stars Patricia Clarkson as an ailing mother attempting to reconcile with her estranged daughter. DeWees plays a hunky “Harley guy” who carries Clarkson up a flight of stairs. How many takes? About seven or eight, reports DeWees. “If it was big-budget, we’d have done that for days. The old back would be hurting, and I’d be crying for more money or better food” . . . “The Logger” has done a lot of heavy lifting since he played Antoine in Judevine. And David Budbill’s 18-year-old play — think a twisted Vermont version of Our Town — keeps sprouting new growth. Next week Harvard students are staging the 47th production of the drama by the Wolcott writer. “It keeps going,” says Budbill, who recently attended a couple of rehearsals in Cambridge, “like the Ever Ready Bunny.”

in brief: Insect Dreams has legs. Marc Estrin’s debut novel, which catches up with the cockroach from Kafka’s “Metamorphosis,” is getting rave reviews all over the country. It’s a great concept: turning Gregor Samsa loose on the first half of the 20th century so he can debate historical figures like Robert Oppenheimer, Charles Ives, Albert Einstein and Ludwig Wittgenstein. He turns up as a witness in the Scopes monkey trial, inspires a popular dance, and briefly dates the founder of the National Women’s Party. “The World was his Roach Motel,” trumpets a headline in The Christian Science Monitor. The Richmond Times-Dispatch described Estrin as “Umberto Eco on speed.” The Burlington author reads Thursday at the Book Rack in Essex Junction and on Friday at the Peace and Justice Center . . . A Dartmouth history professor living in Thetford got a Guggenheim fellowship last week — the only Vermonter on the winners list. Sixty-one-year-old Bruce Nelson bought himself a year to write a book with the working title, Making Race and Nation in Ireland and the Irish Diaspora. Among other angles, Nelson will explore the tension between African-Americans and Irish-Americans in the United States. “In the black nationalist movement, as represented by Marcus Garvey, there was a tendency to view the Irish people as a kind of model,” Nelson notes. Prior to his career in academia and obsession with Irish history, Nelson was a labor activist . . . Jessie Raven sounds like an opera singer. But it takes more than a great name to score as a diva. The Shelburne native got her voice training from Bill Reed as a student at Champlain Valley Union High School. Next week, she debuts in a production of Therese Raquin with L’Opéra de Montréal. Taken from the book by French novelist Emile Zola, with music by Tobias Picker, the opera was originally performed in Dallas, in English, where Raven understudied for the lead. Now she moves center stage, and sings in French — not a problem after playing Carmen last summer with Opera North. In Therese Raquin, the body count is comparable. A total of three characters — including Raven — kick the bucket. Vive la mort.