Browsing: Stage Hands

March – April, 2007

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FEW QUEER WRITERS plant their flag as firmly at the intersection of poetry and politics as does black lesbian poet Cheryl Clarke. This is clearly evidenced by Clarke’s latest book, a collection of her best known and most powerful essays (including “Lesbianism: An Act of Resistance”) interspersed with equally powerful and resonant poems.

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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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DESPITE ITS TITLE, which might suggest another dreary self-help book soaked in Dr. Phil-speak, Gay and Single … Forever? is actually a thoughtful and intriguing meditation on the current state of being a gay man who’s not in a steady relationship.

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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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ADDING to his already impressive roster of works on human sexuality, renowned author, sex educator, and therapist Marty Klein has surpassed all previous efforts with this incisive exploration of the sexual battleground that our country has become. Following the title of the electronic news-letter he publishes, he offers “Sexual Intelligence” as an antidote to the widespread ignorance about sex that prevails in the United States.

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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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IF THIS BOOK is any evidence, Jeffery Dennis one of those people who can pepper conversations with references to Fabian, Frankie Avalon, and Foucault with equal ease. In Queering Teen Culture, Dennis traces the representation of male same-sex desire from the anxiety-ladened post-World War II family sitcoms all the way to the open (though not always satisfying) depiction of homosexuality in the teen comedies and dramas of today. Along the way, he also examines the spectacle of teen sexuality in the on-screen portrayal of juvenile delinquents, beach blanket buddies, androgynous teen idols, and what he refers to as “the rigidly homophobic Brat Pack.”

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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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WHEN AMERICAN Film-makers include gay characters in their films, they tend to focus on them as problematic-the problems of coming out; the heady, tragic problems of finding a boyfriend; family problems; and on and on. For films that incorporate well-rounded gay characters but aren’t about the supposed problems posed by gayness, it’s usually necessary to look to the U.K. or the Continent. Nicholas Hytner’s The History Boys, the film adaptation of Alan Bennett’s Olivier- and Tony-Award winning play, is the latest of these…

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