JON MARANS’ new play, The Temperamentals, is about Harry Hay, Rudi Gernreich, and the beginning of the gay rights movement with The Mattachine Society. Today we can talk about “the gay community,” but Jon’s play is about a time before that—our early history—and about the courageous and strong-willed people who stuck their necks out so that we could find each other.
Jon Marans grew up in the suburbs of Washington, DC. His father was and is an organic chemist, his mother worked for a book chain as a critic. Every two weeks, when her books arrived in the mail, Jon would grab some for himself and take them upstairs to his bedroom to read. He knew then that he wanted to be a writer, but it wasn’t until after he graduated from Duke University, in 1979, with a degree in math and music, that he moved to New York to become playwright.
The Temperamentals first ran Off Off Broadway in the spring and summer of 2009. It reopened again in March 2010 Off Broadway at New World Stages, directed by Jonathan Silverstein. The play closed on May 23rd, but not before it garnered Michael Urie (as Rudi Gernreich) a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actor and a Drama Desk Award to the five-man cast for Outstanding Ensemble Performance.
Jon Marans’ other plays include Old Wicked Songs (a Pulitzer Prize finalist for drama in 1996), A Strange and Separate People, Jumping for Joy, the book for the musical Legacy of the Dragonslayers (based on Studs Terkel’s Coming of Age), Child Child, and Opportunity Knocks. He has also worked in television (as staff writer and lyricist for the 1991 New Carol Burnett Show) and film. Most recently, he has been commissioned by the Ensemble Studio Theatre/Alfred P. Sloane Foundation to write a new play with a math and science focus.
This face-to-face interview was conducted in New York’s Greenwich Village late last year.