|Broadway’s best musical, Kiss of the Spider Woman, merged a homoerotic love
story with homage to bygone movies viewed from a campy gay perspective. The
year's ablest comedy, The Sisters Rosensweig, sympathetically portrayed a bisexual
man who romances one of the title siblings, then leaves her because he prefers men.
The season's foremost drama, Angels in America [whose first part, Millenium
Approaches, opened in May, 1993, and was followed by the second part, Pere-stroika, in November] positioned the gay experience at the center of America’s
political and spiritual identity.
Angels, the seven-hour epic subtitled A Gay Fantasia on National Themes, was the first gay-centered play to win the Pulitzer Prize in drama. The runner-up was the best show of the off-Broadway season, the equally gay and angry memoir of AIDS activist Larry Kramer, The Destiny of Me. A decade ago, the theater establishment collectively winced when its vital self-advertisement to Middle America, the telecast of the Tony Awards, opened with a best-play prize to the flamboyant Harvey Fierstein for Torch Song Trilogy.
|In 1993 virtually every Tony category featured shows with gay elements. Among
the other contenders: Lynn Redgrave's one-woman Shakespeare for My Father,
which alluded to the bisexuality of Sir Michael Redgrave, and the rock opera
Tommy with its homosexual, pedophile uncle. Broadway had welcomed gay
material before. But a breakthrough in unabashed candor and commercial viability
came with 1992's best musical, Falsettos, which centered on a father who leaves
his wife and son to take up with a male lover who dies of AIDS. While it sounds
grim, the show was in large part a cheerfully neurotic comedy; its mordant wit in
the face of death is yet another index of a gay aesthetic. The producers shrewdly
emphasized the show’s celebration of families of all kinds in testimonial ads touting
it as fit for rabbis and priests, Midwestern tourists and suburban firemen. Having
long since turned a profit on Broadway, Falsettos launched a once unimaginable
What accounted for the surge? The gay civil rights movement, for one thing. The
theater has always been home to a disproportionate share of gay artists because
the environment was tolerant and, perhaps, because their lives already involved
illusion, role playing and disguise. Many artists have come out of the closet in life
and insist on doing so in their work. In addition, AIDS has given gay male play-wrights a clarity and tenacity of vision.
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Church of the Science of God
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© Church of the Science of GOD, 1993