Browsing: Stage Hands

March – April, 2007

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SEXUALITY HAS BECOME perhaps the single most volatile issue in the highly emotional and long-running set of skirmishes known as the “culture wars” that have shaped American culture since the 1970’s. In this sophisticated and subtle collection of essays, sociologist Arlene Stein provides a roadmap to this conflict. “American culture is a curious mix of the shameless and the shamers,” Stein argues, “a seemingly endless parade of Pamela Andersons and Jerry Falwells strutting their stuff and wagging their fingers.”

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EVER SINCE the early days of Hollywood, actors and writers who abandoned “the Theatre” for the movies were thought to have sold their artistic souls to the celluloid devil. Douglas Carter Beane’s The Little Dog Laughed is the latest iteration of this paradigm.

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WHAT BRINGS AUDIENCES to the theater is “the expectation that the miracle of communication will take place,” explains a protester to the board of a city arts complex in “Hidden Agendas,” a one-act play that Terrence McNally wrote in 1994 in response to government-inspired attempts to censor an exhibition of the late Robert Mapplethorpe’s photographs. “Words, sounds, gestures, feelings, thoughts! The things that connect us and make us human. The hope for that connection!” The purpose of theater, McNally says in a subsequent interview, is to “find out” and explore “what connects us” as human beings.

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The following paper was first delivered at the New England Women’s Studies Conference in March 2005.

THERE ARE many challenges in writing lesbian-feminist plays, and today I want to talk about two of them. The first is working without antecedents in the popular consciousness, without a canon of lesbian dramatic work from which to draw. The second is the particular kind of audience response to the work which generally results from this lack of a cultural context.

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Short reviews of Cast Out & The New Gay Teenager, and the movie: Fighting Tommy Reilly.

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STERLING HOUSTON, an experimental playwright who died last year, embodied the archetype of the American artist who moves with those dreams out into the world and comes back home with his dreams intact to carry out his major work. His life also illustrates a motif of the modern acceptance of homosexuality and the spread of gay culture: the gay artist who goes to the big city, gets liberated, and returns home to spread the good news of liberation, urbanity, and an outsider’s perspective.

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The following is excerpted from a piece that became something of an instant Internet classic following its publication after the off-year election on November 7, which saw the defeat of two-term Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania. The notoriously homophobic senator took the national spotlight when he denounced same-sex marriage in such a way that he soon acquired the nickname “Man-on-Dog Santorum.” Author-blogger Dan Savage comments here on a contest he ran to find the best definition of “santorum” as a common noun. [Ed.]

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WHILE THE TWO YEARS he served in prison for having engaged in homosexual acts were very hard on Oscar Wilde, the greatest sorrow he experienced as a result of England’s stepped-up persecution of gay men in the 1890’s was the loss of his two young sons. As he wrote to Alfred Douglas in the text that came to be known as De Profundis:

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