Terrence McNally (1939 – ) US Playwright / Screenwriter / Librettist.

b. 3rd November, 1939

American playwright who has received four Tony Awards, an Emmy, and numerous others awards.

 What the gay movement is really about is being yourself. You must be yourself, else you risk becoming invisible.

In the 1990’s, Terrence McNally emerged as the best-known, and possibly the greatest, American gay playwright since Tennessee Williams, largely on the back of a series of plays dealing with the AIDS epidemic – The Lisbon Traviata (1985, rev. 1989); Lips Together, Teeth Apart (1991); A Perfect Ganesh (1993); and Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994), as well as in the Emmy-award-winning Andre’s Mother (1988, televised 1990).

This success though was the culmination of a long career going back to 1964, when his first play, “Things that go bump in the night” met with a decidedly frosty critical reception, and played only 12 nights.  The intervening years were filled with hard graft, a steady stream of output, an ability to learn and improve his craft, and growing critical recognition.

McNally has spoken of the importance of honesty and coming out early in his personal life, and has never shirked from putting gay characters and gay life characters on stage, even long before it became commonly accepted to do so. (The Ritz was set in a gay bathhouse). Two major themes are the difficulties people find in making human connections between each other (and the importance of the search for those connections), and
the power of art (especially opera, and by implication, the theatre) to help us to make these connections, by breaking down the walls that divide us.

In 1997, McNally stirred up a storm of controversy with Corpus Christi, a modern day retelling of the story of Jesus’ birth, ministry, and death in which both he and his disciples are portrayed as homosexual. In fact, the play was initially canceled because of death threats from extremist religious groups against the board members of the Manhattan Theatre Club which was to produce the play. However, several other playwrights such as Tony Kushner threatened to withdraw their plays if Corpus Christi was not produced, and the board finally relented. When the play opened, the theatre was besieged by almost 2,000 protesters, furious at what they considered blasphemy.

In spite of the big themes he addresses in his plays, McNally insists that he does not set out to write plays about issues: his primary concern is to write characters – because that is what audiences pay to come and see.

In addition to his major work in the theatre, McNally has also written the books for musicals and screenplays, and in opera

Selected Plays:

Sweet Eros (1968)
Next (1969)
Where Has Tommy Flowers Gone? (1971)
Bad Habits (1974)
The Ritz (1975)
Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (1982)
Andre’s Mother (1988)
The Lisbon Traviata (1989)
Lips Together, Teeth Apart (1991)
Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994)
By The Sea, By The Sea, By The Beautiful Sea (1995)
Master Class (1995)
Corpus Christi (1998)
Some Men (2006)
Deuce (2007)
The Golden Age (2010)

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s