Back to All Events

The Compton's Cafeteria Riot

Scheduled to debut in early 2018, The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot is an interactive play based on the Compton’s Cafeteria riot, inspired by the Tenderloin Museum’s exhibits on the subject. It was conceived of by playwright Mark Nasser and Tenderloin Museum director Katie Conry, written in collaboration with long-term Tenderloin drag queens (and TLM collaborators) Donna Persona and Collette LeGrande

Tenderloin Museum has been a key partner in the development of the play, connecting Nassar with Tenderloin LGBT history experts Susan Stryker, and Victor Silverman, as well as legendary neighborhood drag queens for academic and first-hand accounts of the scene at the cafeteria. The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot will be performed at an unconventional venue reminiscent of Compton’s Cafeteria itself.

Nassar has completed the script, and early readings and feedback sessions at the Museum have been packed with interested audiences. The third and final workshop of The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot will be held on September 26th at 7pm. We very much value transparency and community input, and invite you to be a part of the process of this play before its 2018 premiere.


This event is part of our Compton’s Film Series: Queens to the Front, a four-event series culminating in a final workshop of The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, an interactive play directly inspired by the 1966 riot, produced by the Tenderloin Museum.

In the summer of 1966, a drag queen patron of the Tenderloin’s Compton’s Cafeteria threw her cup of hot coffee in the face of an police officer as he made an unwarranted attempted to arrest her. The riot that followed would be come to known as the United States’ first recorded act of militant queer resistance to social oppression and police harassment in history. Three years before the famous gay riot at New York’s Stonewall Inn, the neighborhood’s drag queens and allies banded together to fight back against their ongoing discrimination, beating the cops with their high heels and throwing furniture out of the cafeteria windows.

The Compton’s Film Series: Queens to the Front will consist of works created as a response to the story of Compton’s, the movement that followed, and the Tenderloin’s continued support of queer communities. This history is an integral component of the neighborhood’s identity, and we are honored to recognize the individuals whose tenacious spirit spawned a movement against the long history of discrimination and violence.


Compton’s Film Series: Queens to the Front

8/16: The Screaming Queens: The Riot at Compton’s Cafeteria

8/24: Forever’s Gonna Start Tonight

9/14: Beautiful by Night + Queens At Heart 

9/26: The Compton’s Cafeteria Riot, A Workshop 

Earlier Event: September 21
The Commons Block Party
Later Event: October 5
City Looks by J.B. Higgins