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McEachern ’19 Built Queer Theatre Collective to Highlight New Playwrights

Hannah McEachern stands in front of a QTCboston poster
Hannah McEachern ’19

Hannah McEachern ’19 found it challenging to break into the theater industry, so she decided to create her own opportunities, and built the Queer Theatre Collective of Boston.

She operates QTCboston aside from her day job as the program administrator for Emerson College’s Comedic Arts program, in addition to her client-based work as an interpersonal communication coach, and a tarot reader.

On Sunday, June 30, QTCboston is hosting its Queer Coffee House, which will feature several Emersonians.

McEachern spoke with Emerson Today about why she wanted to create QTCboston, the impact Emerson has on her life, and more.

How has Emerson College helped you professionally and/or personally? 

McEachern: My experiences at Emerson, as both a student, and a staff member have been integral to my personal and professional growth. In my undergrad, I was consistently inspired by my faculty, and peers. The values of preparation, hard work, and collaboration were instilled in me during my time in the Performing Arts program, and are values that have carried through into my professional life. I am also incredibly grateful for professors like [Performing Arts Associate Professor] Lindsay Beamish, [Performing Arts Senior Affiliated Faculty] Joe Antoun, and the late [former Performing Arts Affiliated Faculty] Spiro Veloudos, who truly helped shape my path as a leader, and theater director. 

At Emerson, I have become a better director/producer, a more passionate artist, a more compassionate human, and a more effective communicator. In my time as a staff member, I’ve learned so much from the students, faculty, and staff I’ve come in contact with and am so grateful to be in the presence of people who lift me up, and want to see me succeed both in work, and in life. Coming back to work at Emerson was a homecoming moment for me, to say the least. 

What is the Queer Theatre Collective of Boston?

Our mission statement says it all:

QTCboston is a queer theatre collective that uplifts the voices of, and provides a platform for LGBTQ+ identifying individuals of all backgrounds and experiences within the creative community of the greater Boston area. We are changing the future of the theater industry by prioritizing the development of new works by queer writers that tell stories which encourage audiences to shift their perspective on what it means to be an active and compassionate member of a community. As we build this space together, we encourage and welcome the presence of individuals questioning their sexuality or gender, and our allies, so that we may collaborate together to celebrate the queer experience.

Why did you want to create it?

McEachern: When I graduated from my master’s program [MFA Theatre Directing] in Scotland and moved back to Boston in 2021, I felt incredibly out of the loop in the theatre scene. We were just coming back from the pandemic, and it felt like “breaking in” and creating a space for myself was almost impossible. By 2023, I was finally done allowing myself to continue blocking creative opportunities from coming my way, and was ready to be a “theatre person” again.

I built QTCboston for two reasons: the first being a need to make my own opportunities for creative work. I wanted to develop new work with up-and-coming artists and support them in the ways I wish I had been supported back in 2021. 

The second reason being, the members of my queer community wanted a space in the theatre industry that was created for them, by them. As a connector, and community builder, this seemed like the perfect way to bring people together, and give them a space to be themselves, collaborate with each other, and create work that felt authentic to them. 

Ben Newman, Hannah McEachern, and Lee Forrest hold a QTCBoston banner
Left to right: QTCBoston Business Manager Ben Newman, QTCBoston Founder and Artistic Director Hannah McEachern ’19, and Managing Director Lee Forrest ’22.

There are a lot of Emersonians involved with the Queer Theatre Collective of Boston.

McEachern: Yes! Lee Forrest ’22 is our managing director. Lee is a General and Company Management Assistant at The Huntington [Theatre] and has been an integral part of QTC’s success. He has truly been one of my rocks throughout this process and kept me sane. Building a non-profit isn’t easy, y’all, but Lee has helped make my theatre collective dreams a reality! 

Kandyce Whittingham ’23 will be directing the staged reading of our QTCresidency play in the fall. As a performer, and director, Kandyce is the embodiment of a true collaborator. I am in awe of what she is creating for herself in the Boston theatre industry and we are incredibly lucky to have her working with us. 

You can also see alum Oliver Rizzo ’22, and current student Sophie Canon ’26 performing in our Queer Coffee House event on June 30. Oliver will be performing as their drag persona, Mic Check, and Sophie will be performing stand up. 

What is the QTCresidency?

McEachern: A QTCresidency experience is bespoke in nature, and is molded to fit the needs of the playwright and their work. We work closely with the playwright to ensure that they have the resources, support, and connections they need to develop their piece, and take it to the next level after the residency process has concluded. The process includes one to one dramaturgical support, two developmental workshops, and at least two performances of a staged reading. The purpose of the residency is to uplift and develop the work of queer playwrights and offer them the opportunity to find their voice and create a new piece of theater that highlights authentic representation of the queer experience.

This year, we are working with Ben F. Locke to develop their play, Remembrance. Ben’s piece explores the Trans Day of Remembrance from historical, and contemporary perspectives, and investigates what it means to both honor those we’ve lost, and interpret their lives through our own personal lens. Ben’s piece is inspired by the story of Rita Hester, a Boston native whose death was the catalyst for the creation of Trans Day of Remembrance. 

What are your hopes for the Queer Theatre Collective of Boston?

McEachern: At the end of the day, QTCboston is a success if we are able to build community and create a space for queer theatre artists to collaborate and tell the stories they’re inspired to tell. I think we’ve been successful in this so far, so I just want to make sure we’re continuing to do that in ways that serve our artists, and invite allies around Boston to learn and grow from the work that we produce. I’d love to see more large-scale collaborations with theatres and queer non-profit organizations around the city as well. 

How does the Queer Theatre Collective of Boston help you?

McEachern: QTC has helped me become a more effective leader, and collaborator. Building something from the ground up truly teaches you so much about perseverance and the value of having a dedicated team around you. It has also allowed me to build relationships with fellow theatre makers and industry professionals around the city. I am so grateful for the abundant network of support I have behind me as a result of taking the leap and building something that has positively affected people. 

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