Athlete Ally Ambassador Sam Marchiano and Cindy Keiter, creator of Recreating Keiter, speak below about LGBTQ inclusivity in sports and Recreating Keiter, a play in which Cindy channels her legendary sportscaster father, Les Keiter, and electrifies her own story by taking the audience to an imaginary all-star baseball game at Ebbets Field.
Q: Cindy, what inspired you to create Recreating Keiter?
A: When my dad passed away, I was very cognizant of “The Baseball Recreate” as a lost art, and I didn’t want it to go away. I think I felt that if it did—I was losing even more of my father and his work I admired. My dad did this so well, and I was privileged to see him do it several times. At the time of his decline and eventual passing, my own life was in such turmoil and I never got to discuss with him how bad things were, due to his fading. I spent a lot of time since his passing thinking about sports, baseball in particular, how it parallels life. Literally, just like one pitch, it can be a game changer—same with one phone call—it can change your life. As an actor and a playwright, I wanted to explore these things with my own voice. Can I honor the art form my dad did so well? Can I highlight the parallels between a recreated baseball game and the struggles of regular life? Can I help myself and others heal by sharing my personal journey in this concept?
These are questions that I’m hoping to answer with my play, which is an imaginary all-star, timeless baseball recreation told in an imaginary broadcast booth where my father worked. Intertwined with relevant stories in my own life, where I lost my way and struggled to get back on my own two feet.
Q: Sam, why should people be looking at Recreating Keiter’s theater, sports, and LGBTQ content?
A: When you talk about the importance of sports being inclusive, it sounds so well-meaning, but it can also seem abstract. Recreating Keiter, in a funny and poignant way, brings some of those ideas home. Theater like this gives us the opportunity to understand both the sports world and the LGBTQ experience as being a part of something, of feeling welcome. We all need as much of that good stuff in life as possible.
Q: Cindy, how would you like to have the show inspire people to buy tickets?
A: Well, I’ve always felt like a late bloomer, and here I am— a woman finally finding happiness, and it’s with another woman! I tried marriage to a man, and look where that went! All kidding aside, truthfully, that is a fact in my life. Also, I’m hoping the story of my finally becoming comfortable in my own skin at this stage in my life should give hope to others. We should not be giving up on humanity—after what I went through with Billy and the death of my sister-in-law and father at the same time, I was pretty done with other human beings in terms of intimacy and putting myself out there with other people, because I didn’t want to hurt again. And then came Lory! Family, sexuality, self-esteem, baseball, and surfing—my show has a lot of things to offer to a lot of people!
Q: Sam, tell us about Athlete Ally and its mission.
A: Athlete Ally is a terrific non-profit that educates and activates athletic communities to eliminate homophobia and transphobia in sports. It does that in several different ways and a current project that I’m involved with is an online training program for coaches. It was founded by Hudson Taylor, a three-time All-American wrestler at the University of Maryland and his efforts really resonated for me from the organization’s inception because inclusive actions by male allies helped me navigate gender issues as a female sports reporter years ago. Allyship is still so necessary and important today. Plus, allyship represents sports at its very best.
Q: Sam, what would you like to see evolve within the sports climate?
A: Given that sports provide connective tissue for so many people, I’d like to see the industry embrace its important role in society to an even greater degree. Taking steps to ensure all coaches, players, and administrators are LGBTQ inclusive is a great step because everyone should feel comfortable living their truth, and in sports so many folks still don’t. I also like to see more opportunity for women—as coaches, players and executives—because there’s a huge gender gap. And if there’s one thing I really learned through my work with Athlete Ally, it’s that misogyny and homophobia are inextricably linked. So improving the climate for women and the LGBTQ community work in tandem, and are good for everyone in sports.
Q: Cindy, what are you and Sam doing to work together on your show?
A: I’m so excited to work with Sam in what will be a very exciting evening and discussion with her about sports and life. Both of us are daughters of sportscasters, and that puts us in a small club indeed! I’m very much looking forward to it!