News

Coming Out

A. Nora Long, producing associate

Our lighting designer, John Malinowski, forwarded this article along to members of the production staff and company with the subject heading, “Coming Out in the 21st Century”. It is a beautiful little story about one American family, and offers a different (and more inclusive) perspective on the “traditional” family values rhetoric. I am reminded of what Ellen DeGeneres said regarding calls to boycott JC Penney for having a woman representing “a non-traditional lifestyle” as their spokeswoman. “Here are the values I stand for: I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you’d want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.”

Thanks for sending the article along, John!

Coming Out

A. Nora Long, producing associate

Our lighting designer, John Malinowski, forwarded this article along to members of the production staff and company with the subject heading, “Coming Out in the 21st Century”. It is a beautiful little story about one American family, and offers a different (and more inclusive) perspective on the “traditional” family values rhetoric. I am reminded of what Ellen DeGeneres said regarding calls to boycott JC Penney for having a woman representing “a non-traditional lifestyle” as their spokeswoman. “Here are the values I stand for: I stand for honesty, equality, kindness, compassion, treating people the way you’d want to be treated and helping those in need. To me, those are traditional values.”

Thanks for sending the article along, John!

The Original Mattachine

A. Nora Long, producing associate

black and white photo of Mattachine Society Christmas Party

Mattachine Society Christmas Party, 1951 or 1952. From left to right: Konrad Stevens, Dale Jennings, Harry Hay, Rudi Gernreich, Stan Witt, Bob Hull, Chuck Rowland, Paul Bernard. Photo by Jim Gruber.

This picture is of the original Mattachine Society, at a Christmas party in the early 1950s. It is a rare shot – in fact, one story goes that the only reason Harry agreed to sit for the picture in the first place is because the photographer, Jim Gruber, assured him there was no film in the camera (a classic trick).

The hesitancy to be photographed was not unfounded paranoia -the Mattachine Society became the subject of an internal FBI investigation starting in 1953. Due to his affiliation with the Communist Party, Harry was already under FBI surveillance, and in 1955 was summoned to appear before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. The fear of being arrested, harassed, or physically abused by members of law enforcement was rooted in the reality of experience.

Which makes this photo all the more remarkable and valuable to us today.

The Original Mattachine

A. Nora Long, producing associate

black and white photo of Mattachine Society Christmas Party
Mattachine Society Christmas Party, 1951 or 1952. From left to right: Konrad Stevens, Dale Jennings, Harry Hay, Rudi Gernreich, Stan Witt, Bob Hull, Chuck Rowland, Paul Bernard. Photo by Jim Gruber.

This picture is of the original Mattachine Society, at a Christmas party in the early 1950s. It is a rare shot – in fact, one story goes that the only reason Harry agreed to sit for the picture in the first place is because the photographer, Jim Gruber, assured him there was no film in the camera (a classic trick).

The hesitancy to be photographed was not unfounded paranoia -the Mattachine Society became the subject of an internal FBI investigation starting in 1953. Due to his affiliation with the Communist Party, Harry was already under FBI surveillance, and in 1955 was summoned to appear before the House UnAmerican Activities Committee. The fear of being arrested, harassed, or physically abused by members of law enforcement was rooted in the reality of experience.

Which makes this photo all the more remarkable and valuable to us today.

Radically Gay

Jeremy Johnson, director.

When I was 15, this old guy Andy (I think he was probably 30 at the time) worked with me at the local community theatre in Randolph, New Jersey. One day Andy handed me Reflections of a Rock Lobster and One Teenager in Ten. I don’t recall if we had a conversation about being gay or not but those books changed me. I read them dozens of times and carefully hid them under my bed.

When I was 16, I got my driver’s permit and Melissa Etheridge released a CD called Yes I Am. She sang a song called “Silent Legacy” and I pulled over on the highway because I couldn’t see the road anymore. I sobbed for about twenty minutes pressing repeat each time the song ended. She had written a song for me and she felt like I did.

When I was 17, I walked into the Drama Bookshop in NYC and with butterflies in my stomach and sweating hands bought The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me by David Drake and read about what it was like to be a sissy and a badass all at the same time. I met David in Provincetown two years ago and it continues to be a very special day for me. Sometimes I think he saved my life.

When I was 32, I read The Temperamentals and all the memories above came rushing back to me immediately.
There is nothing more powerful than the moments when you realize you are not alone.

If the Mattachine Society did nothing else in those formative years of the gay rights movement it reached out with welcoming arms and embraced hundreds of men and women who up until that point had lived their lives alone and in the dark. What is even more incredible to me is that they did this during the early 1950s, a period in American history marked by extreme paranoia, rigidity and an almost inflexible adherence to a moral standard that we look back on today as largely a fantasy of politicians and advertising.

One of the fascinating and frustrating things about being gay is that we are all largely “self-taught” especially when it comes to our place in history. Black families and Jewish families pass down the words, ideas and customs of their culture and occasionally schools will fill in some of the gaps. 
Will Roscoe says in Radically Gay, a book on the writings of Harry Hay, “There is no mechanism, except by the initiative of the individual, for Lesbians and Gay men to learn their own history. And this is a very serious problem when one realizes the role that the construction of the past plays in any social movement.”

I’m embarrassed to admit that up until a year ago, I was among the many who thought the movement for our rights began on a hot night in June at the Stonewall Inn. I read earlier this year of 20-year old gay men leaving the recent revival of The Normal Heart, looking at their friends in their 40s and 50s with a mixture of horror and awe, saying “I had no idea that’s what you went through.” We have a history and it’s an important one. It’s an American one and it matters. It matters to the 15-year old that always felt a little bit different who comes to see this show. This play is for them.

Radically Gay

Jeremy Johnson, director.

When I was 15, this old guy Andy (I think he was probably 30 at the time) worked with me at the local community theatre in Randolph, New Jersey. One day Andy handed me Reflections of a Rock Lobster and One Teenager in Ten. I don’t recall if we had a conversation about being gay or not but those books changed me. I read them dozens of times and carefully hid them under my bed.

When I was 16, I got my driver’s permit and Melissa Etheridge released a CD called Yes I Am. She sang a song called “Silent Legacy” and I pulled over on the highway because I couldn’t see the road anymore. I sobbed for about twenty minutes pressing repeat each time the song ended. She had written a song for me and she felt like I did.
When I was 17, I walked into the Drama Bookshop in NYC and with butterflies in my stomach and sweating hands bought The Night Larry Kramer Kissed Me by David Drake and read about what it was like to be a sissy and a badass all at the same time. I met David in Provincetown two years ago and it continues to be a very special day for me. Sometimes I think he saved my life.
When I was 32, I read The Temperamentals and all the memories above came rushing back to me immediately.
There is nothing more powerful than the moments when you realize you are not alone.

If the Mattachine Society did nothing else in those formative years of the gay rights movement it reached out with welcoming arms and embraced hundreds of men and women who up until that point had lived their lives alone and in the dark. What is even more incredible to me is that they did this during the early 1950s, a period in American history marked by extreme paranoia, rigidity and an almost inflexible adherence to a moral standard that we look back on today as largely a fantasy of politicians and advertising.
One of the fascinating and frustrating things about being gay is that we are all largely “self-taught” especially when it comes to our place in history. Black families and Jewish families pass down the words, ideas and customs of their culture and occasionally schools will fill in some of the gaps. 
Will Roscoe says in Radically Gay, a book on the writings of Harry Hay, “There is no mechanism, except by the initiative of the individual, for Lesbians and Gay men to learn their own history. And this is a very serious problem when one realizes the role that the construction of the past plays in any social movement.”
I’m embarrassed to admit that up until a year ago, I was among the many who thought the movement for our rights began on a hot night in June at the Stonewall Inn. I read earlier this year of 20-year old gay men leaving the recent revival of The Normal Heart, looking at their friends in their 40s and 50s with a mixture of horror and awe, saying “I had no idea that’s what you went through.” We have a history and it’s an important one. It’s an American one and it matters. It matters to the 15-year old that always felt a little bit different who comes to see this show. This play is for them.

Lights Out

A. Nora Long, producing associate

On Tuesday night , The Temperamentals  began its first rehearsal with the traditional Lyric “Meet and Greet.” Members of the company staff, design team, cast and crew gathered to introduce themselves, and learn a little more about the show and the theatre. And, of course, eat food.

photo of the cast of The Temperamentals discussing around a table
Cast and crew listen to director Jeremy Johnson discuss the play, pre-blackout.

The designer and director presentations were wonderful and informative, and we will put together some of the audio, video and photos from the day to share with you all. Of course, there was another much less fun event happening just up the street. As you have probably heard (and possibly experienced), a transformer fire in an NSTAR substation blacked out most of the city, including the Lyric right in the middle of the first read-through! A dramatic event to be sure. More news to come from rehearsals now that the lights are on shortly.

Lights Out

A. Nora Long, producing associate

On Tuesday night , The Temperamentals  began its first rehearsal with the traditional Lyric “Meet and Greet.” Members of the company staff, design team, cast and crew gathered to introduce themselves, and learn a little more about the show and the theatre. And, of course, eat food.

photo of the cast of the temperamentals discussing the play around a table

Cast and crew listen to director Jeremy Johnson discuss the play, pre-blackout.

The designer and director presentations were wonderful and informative, and we will put together some of the audio, video and photos from the day to share with you all. Of course, there was another much less fun event happening just up the street. As you have probably heard (and possibly experienced), a transformer fire in an NSTAR substation blacked out most of the city, including the Lyric right in the middle of the first read-through! A dramatic event to be sure. More news to come from rehearsals now that the lights are on shortly.

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.

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We have postponed our production of Fabulation or, the Re-Education of Undine.Read about how we are responding to the coronavirus.
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