CMU School of Drama

Thursday, December 29, 2016

A New Day for Gay Plays?

The New York Times: No one would argue that gay men and women continue to face the kind of discrimination they did back in 1968, when Mart Crowley’s “The Boys in the Band” cracked open the closet door onstage, shining a stark light on what was then a topic rarely explored in popular culture.

Mr. Crowley’s was the first play explicitly about gay men’s experience to break through to the mainstream, logging more than 1,000 performances Off Broadway, racking up mostly positive reviews in major outlets, being published in a mass-market edition and eventually becoming a film.

2 comments:

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Sasha Schwartz said...

Its very interesting to read about the common themes and stereotypes that are common within plays which include gay characters in this contemporary theater setting. Something that is very clear from the article is how “gay” still seems to only encompass the experience of gay men, not women. Broadway and show business have always been associated, (both justly and unjustly), with the glittery-glamorous persona of the stereotypical gay man. I think this is one of the reasons that other LGBT stories, such as those of lesbian relationships and trans characters, are still so few and far between, both within theater and other forms of media. And even within this fairly limited array of shows which include gay male relationships, the themes are still somewhat similar (promiscuity, loneliness, the gay “scene”, etc). Promiscuity as equated with gay males has been a common theme for a long time, which I think can pose uncomfortable and assumptive work that informs the general public’s negative view of gay people overall. I did my final research paper for Foundations of Drama II on Larry Kramer’s The Normal Heart, and in it (as well as in Kramer’s life himself as an activist), it’s clear to see that even within the gay community there is a dichotomy between a celebration of hookup culture and a need to be taken seriously (or in the case of The Normal Heart, stop the spread of AIDS). I’m not sure if it’s fair to even still be equating gay men with promiscuity in an age of increased awareness of diversity of sexualities and sexual behaviors, and where the internet can facilitate hook ups between people miles and miles apart, gay or straight or otherwise. I think that it’s definitely important that these diverse stories of sexual identity are produced and appreciated, yet still critiqued fairly (we still have a long way to go, especially, as the author notes, in the political climate of today).