Did she throw the shoe or didn't she? Was she truly instrumental in launching the June 29, 1969 riot at the Stonewall Bar, instigating the GLTB rights movement that changed the social environment for queer people across the world? Was she even there?
History or myth, the life of transgender pioneer Sylvia Rivera is the inspiration for Sylvia So Far, a new musical-in-development offering its world premiere. Rivera, who succumbed to liver cancer in 2002 at the age of fifty, is credited in gay lore as, after a harsh life hustling on 42nd Street from the age of 10, resisting harassment and arrest from the New York City police department the night in question, beginning a group action that began when Rivera, finding nothing to throw at police demanding the evacuation of the club, removed her shoe and sent it flying at a nearby cop. The crowd followed suit, upturning parking meters, trash cans, and trapping authorities inside the bar. Two more nights of riots followed before peace was restored. The act prompted GLTB organizations to strategize and begin a political effort that is still vital.
The musical is written and directed by Timothy Mathis, a member of the legendary (and recently Tony-honored) Lehman Engel Musical Theatre Workshop.