Month: March 2012

The Intersection of Public and Private Space

Sara Brown, scenic designer

sketch of The Temperamentals set

In order to recount the founding of the Mattachine Society, Jon Marans’ script flows quickly through a number of scenes that take place in a variety of different locations. These scenes are written to flow into one another seamlessly. The design challenge is to create an architecture for the space that supports these varied locations while remaining flexible. To me, the stage design had to reflect the seamless nature of the script and allow for the performers to move through it to get to different locales as opposed to having the scenery move to the performers to make different scenes.

While the play is documenting the pre-Stonewall gay rights movement in America – it is also very much about the imperfect individuals and personal relationships that formed this movement. They each had to struggle with the intersection of the public and private in a very real way. Most of the men in the play are attempting to live out a ‘normalized’ family life while maintaining relationships outside of the bounds of this social structure. I was interested in the idea of the home as the extension of the family. I was drawn to the look of California Modern homes and in particular Eichler Homes. Not only are these homes of the time and place of the play, they reflect an idealized notion of the family as America’s best hope for the future.  Placing the house structure at the center of the stage allows the performers to physically occupy a family space, to stand outside of it, or to use it as a place to hide in plain site. 

As a designer, I start by mapping out the action of the text. The initial conversations tend to focus on use and action. I bring images that I think reflect the world that we are creating and then find ways to deconstruct elements in a way that supports the performance. In this case, we talked a great deal about creating opportunities for lighting. The scenery is designed to create shadows and texture in light. Each element can be lit from the front or from the back to stand in silhouette.

What You Can Do

A. Nora Long, producing associate

Sorry, blog, this is a day late. But, hopefully, I will make up for my tardiness, with thoughtfulness (fingers crossed).

On Sunday, I led our second talkback for our current production Time Stands Still; (Hang on, isn’t this blog about The Temperamentals? Wait for it!) the story of two journalists recovering from trauma they have faced abroad, and the impact their work has on their relationship. It is a play about relationships, primarily, but one of the questions it raises (and was again raised by several audience members) surrounds the idea of the value of journalism. Is it worth the risk these journalists take to cover these stories? With so many images fighting for our attention, does any single image have power anymore? Why is it important for average citizens to be informed about the world? What can we really do about it?

I think we can all sympathize with this feeling of helplessness. What can any of us small individuals do about all the many terrible things happening in the great big world? Well, in this country, you have two powerful tools at your disposal – voting and shopping.

I think the benefits of voting are fairly self-explanatory – you can have a direct impact on who makes decisions in the one of the most powerful nations in the world. You can lobby your elected officials, you can let them know how you feel about anything. And, with the advent of the internet, it couldn’t be easier. In case you weren’t otherwise aware (cause you read this blog but no other source of news?) this is an election year. In Massachusetts, you must register to vote by August 17th to be eligible to vote in the State Primary, or by October 17 for the General Election on November 6th. You can read more about it here. So, vote, and email your representatives.

Shopping may sound silly, but as a consumer in a capitalist country, where you put your money matters. The fact is the advances of technology and the global market mean that we are all much closer to events in the world than ever before. In the 90’s, we all started to look at our sneakers differently, and changed the industry – and now the true cost of the Ipad is drawing similar comparisons. In the last month, a group threatened to boycott JC Penney for hiring Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman, only to rally several thousand more supporters to DeGeneres and the retailer, in a sense boycotting the boycott.

I could go on as there are many examples of how each of us can contribute in our small ways to shaping the world we want to live in – which brings me nicely to the story of The Temperamentals. As Stuart Timmons writes about in his biography of the leader of our group (and incidentally revealing the inspiration for the title, “The trouble with Harry Hay was his refusal to adapt to a reality he found unacceptable.” We can all do the same. As the philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who fail to heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”

In looking back on our past, we have the advantage of hindsight, and can determine for ourselves how much has really changed, and how much has stayed the same. And then we can figure out what we want to do about it.

What You Can Do

A. Nora Long, producing associate

Sorry, blog, this is a day late. But, hopefully, I will make up for my tardiness, with thoughtfulness (fingers crossed).

On Sunday, I led our second talkback for our current production Time Stands Still; (Hang on, isn’t this blog about The Temperamentals? Wait for it!) the story of two journalists recovering from trauma they have faced abroad, and the impact their work has on their relationship. It is a play about relationships, primarily, but one of the questions it raises (and was again raised by several audience members) surrounds the idea of the value of journalism. Is it worth the risk these journalists take to cover these stories? With so many images fighting for our attention, does any single image have power anymore? Why is it important for average citizens to be informed about the world? What can we really do about it?

I think we can all sympathize with this feeling of helplessness. What can any of us small individuals do about all the many terrible things happening in the great big world? Well, in this country, you have two powerful tools at your disposal – voting and shopping.

I think the benefits of voting are fairly self-explanatory – you can have a direct impact on who makes decisions in the one of the most powerful nations in the world. You can lobby your elected officials, you can let them know how you feel about anything. And, with the advent of the internet, it couldn’t be easier. In case you weren’t otherwise aware (cause you read this blog but no other source of news?) this is an election year. In Massachusetts, you must register to vote by August 17th to be eligible to vote in the State Primary, or by October 17 for the General Election on November 6th. You can read more about it here. So, vote, and email your representatives. 

Shopping may sound silly, but as a consumer in a capitalist country, where you put your money matters. The fact is the advances of technology and the global market mean that we are all much closer to events in the world than ever before. In the 90’s, we all started to look at our sneakers differently, and changed the industry – and now the true cost of the Ipad is drawing similar comparisons. In the last month, a group threatened to boycott JC Penney for hiring Ellen DeGeneres as a spokeswoman, only to rally several thousand more supporters to DeGeneres and the retailer, in a sense boycotting the boycott.  

I could go on as there are many examples of how each of us can contribute in our small ways to shaping the world we want to live in – which brings me nicely to the story of The Temperamentals.As Stuart Timmons writes about in his biography of the leader of our group (and incidentally revealing the inspiration for the title, “The trouble with Harry Hay was his refusal to adapt to a reality he found unacceptable.” We can all do the same. As the philosopher George Santayana wrote, “Those who fail to heed the lessons of history are doomed to repeat them.”

In looking back on our past, we have the advantage of hindsight, and can determine for ourselves how much has really changed, and how much has stayed the same. And then we can figure out what we want to do about it.

The Tasty Space Between

Brian Dudley, Box Office Manager

Okay, can we be honest with each other?

I don’t love reading plays.
Before you start chasing me out of the box office with torches and pitchforks, please note that this does not mean I don’t like plays. No, no, no! I think plays are great. The play is such a unique narrative form in that the script, the actual words are just the skeleton, and the muscles and veins and lungs and eyes and ears all belong to someone else: an actor, a director, a designer, a member of the audience.
Therein, however, is my problem with just sitting and reading plays. All I know is that more often than not, when I curl up by the fire with a cup of tea to read a play1, I get a few pages in and then I go all cross eyed because my brain isn’t filling in the blank spaces between the dialogue and I’m unable to process the story being presented to me. When I look at a script, often I’m boggled by the white space between the lines. What the actors will look like. Will they have accents? Is he wearing a suit in this part, or is he dressed more casually? How will they transition from being in a crowded diner to a cramped bedroom? The white space is endless.
There’s so much not being said in The Temperamentals, so I’ll admit it to you here and now that when I first read the play, I closed the script and I didn’t quite know how to react. This was my first verbalized2 response, via a text message to a good friend of mine:

screenshot of messages conversation between Brian Dudley and his friend Molly. Brian: wait, okay, so, the temperamentals, what? Molly: so is it good?

The answer to her question was, “yes, I think so.”
Because, see, when I read the script of The Temperamentals, it’s like I’m scanning the list of ingredients for a cookie recipe. I see things like social justice and political awareness and men in suits and chocolate chips3, and it’s like when I read an actual cookie recipe and my mouth fills with drool imagining the plate of baked goods I will eventually be consuming. There are so many interesting, thought-provoking, and exciting things about the play, a lot of which lives in the white space, so as good as the words are, I look forward to hearing them once the whole production has been baking in the oven for a little while, and the smell of intelligent discourse and interpersonal relations waft through the theater.
You know, I think I got lost in the metaphor there. Excuse me while I go find some cookies.
And we’re back. At its core, The Temperamentals is a story about Harry Hay and his relationships, both romantic and platonic, with other men, and how they were created, influenced, and effected by the conception of one of the first successful gay rights organizations in this country. Anytime a playwright dips into history and recreates a real person, the opportunities for distinctive and exciting storytelling are everywhere, and nowhere more than in this script. This is a story I’m glad the Lyric will be telling, because I am so interested to see the way the characters interact with one another in “real life,” instead of on the page. I look forward to gauging their posture and gait and tone of voice; to the story really living and breathing along with these men.
So the short version of this is that I’m really excited to see this play. I’m excited that you’re going to see it too.4 And afterwards, you can come to the box office and tell me how well you think we filled in the spaces.


[1] I do not actually do this.
[2] In a manner of speaking – I was alone in public so I did not actually verbalize anything.
[3] I cannot promise there will actually be chocolate chips at the theater, but I encourage you to bring your own. I know I will.
[4] What do you mean, you don’t have tickets yet? Call 617.585.5678 and talk to one of our charming box office representatives today. Is this a shameless promotion? Yes. Yes it is.

The Tasty Space Between

Brian Dudley, Box Office Manager

I don’t like reading plays.


But wait! Before you start chasing me out of the box office with torches and pitchforks, please note that this does not mean I don’t like plays. On the contrary! I think plays are great. The play is such a unique narrative form in that the script, the actual words are just the skeleton, and the muscles and veins and lungs and eyes and ears all belong to someone else: an actor, a director, a designer, a member of the audience.


Therein, however, is my problem with just sitting and reading plays. All I know is that more often than not, when I curl up by the fire with a cup of tea to read a play1, I get a few pages in and then I go all cross eyed because my brain isn’t filling in the blank spaces between the dialogue and I’m unable to process the story being presented to me. When I look at a script, often I’m boggled by the white space between the lines. What the actors will look like. Will they have accents? Is he wearing a suit in this part, or is he dressed more casually? How will they transition from being in a crowded diner to a cramped bedroom? The questions never cease, and my poor fragile brain isn’t able to answer all of them at once. The white space is endless.


There’s so much not being said in The Temperamentals, so I’ll admit it to you here and now that when I first read the play, I closed the script and I didn’t quite know how to react. This was my first verbalized2 response, via a text message to a good friend of mine:

Screenshot of Messages Conversation between Brian Dudley and his friend Molly.  Brian: wait, okay, so, the temperamentals, what? Molly: so is it good?

The answer to her question was, “yes, I think so.”
Because, see, when I read the script of The Temperamentals, it’s like I’m scanning the list of ingredients for a cookie recipe. I see things like social justice and political awareness and men in suits and chocolate chips3, and it’s like when I read an actual cookie recipe and my mouth fills with drool imagining the plate of baked goods I will eventually be consuming. There are so many interesting, thought-provoking, and exciting things about the play, a lot of which lives in the white space, so as good as the words are, I look forward to hearing them once the whole production has been baking in the oven for a little while, and the smell of intelligent discourse and interpersonal relations waft through the theater.
You know, I think I got lost in the metaphor there. Excuse me while I go find some cookies.
And we’re back. At its core, The Temperamentals is a story about Harry Hay and his relationships, both romantic and platonic, with other men, and how they were created, influenced, and effected by the conception of one of the first successful gay rights organizations in this country. Anytime a playwright dips into history and recreates a real person, the opportunities for distinctive and exciting storytelling are everywhere, and nowhere more than in this script. This is a story I’m glad the Lyric will be telling, because I am so interested to see the way the characters interact with one another in “real life,” instead of on the page. I look forward to gauging their posture and gait and tone of voice; to the story really living and breathing along with these men.
So the short version of this is that I’m really excited to see this play. I’m excited that you’re going to see it too.4 And afterwards, you can come to the box office and tell me how well you think we filled in the spaces.


[1] I do not actually do this.
[2] In a manner of speaking – I was alone in public so I did not actually verbalize anything.
[3] I cannot promise there will actually be chocolate chips at the theater, but I encourage you to bring your own. I know I will. 
[4] What do you mean, you don’t have tickets yet? Call 617.585.5678 and talk to one of our charming box office representatives today. Is this a shameless promotion? Yes. Yes it is.