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Crowley, Mart (b. 1935)  
page: 1  2  

Rather than dismissed for presenting a politically incorrect view of gay men, The Boys in the Band should be respected for calling attention to the destructive effects of the pervasive societal homophobia with which gay people in the period before Stonewall had to cope.

Crowley's next play, Remote Asylum, was produced in 1970. The comedy received unfavorable notices and quickly closed.

His third play, A Breeze from the Gulf, which is based on his memories of growing up in Mississippi, enjoyed a much warmer critical reception but did not find an audience. It had only a six-week run off-Broadway in 1973.

During the 1970s Crowley lived off his money from The Boys in the Band. He stated in 1996 that he "was just running around the world, drinking too much" at the time, and so his funds were dwindling by the end of the decade.

In 1979 Crowley's friend Natalie Wood and her husband, Robert Wagner, helped Crowley get a job as head writer for the television show in which they starred, Hart to Hart. When the producer abruptly quit, Crowley replaced him and remained in that post until 1983.

Crowley then returned to work as a screenwriter. "I have original movie scripts in the files of every major studio in Hollywood," he declared in 1993. Although he was successful in selling them, none has ever been produced.

Crowley's next stage play, For Reasons That Remain Unclear, dealt with the theme of sexual abuse of a student by a Catholic priest. Crowley has stated that the story is a fictionalized version of his own experience. The play was first presented at the Olney Theatre in Maryland. It was optioned for a year, but the production was soon abandoned. The play has since been performed in a few regional theaters.

The Boys in the Band was revived in New York in 1996 to mostly favorable reviews and had a respectable run. By the time of the revival Crowley had already let it be known that he was planning a sequel. It was not until 2002, however, that The Men from the Boys premiered in San Francisco.

The setting for the sequel is the same New York City apartment that was the site of the birthday party in The Boys in the Band. This time it is the venue for a wake for Larry, who has died of pancreatic cancer. Seven of the nine original characters return, and three younger ones have been added.

While reviewers generally found the play entertaining and pointed to some wickedly witty lines by Crowley, they were somewhat disappointed by the lack of evolution of the characters. Critic Dennis Harvey commented that they "end up defined mostly by the degree to which they've resisted 35 years of social and potential personal change."

While Crowley has never been able to recapture the success and acclaim that he had with his debut play, he deserves honor for having blazed the trail for subsequent gay-themed theater with The Boys in the Band.

Linda Rapp

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literature >> Overview:  American Literature: Gay Male, 1900-1969

Although largely invisible to the general public, a large body of twentieth-century gay male literature by American authors was published prior to Stonewall, some of it positive but most of it tinged with misery or bleakness as the price of being published and disseminated.

arts >> Overview:  Film

Since cinema began, Hollywood has been fascinated with finding ways of representing homosexuality.

arts >> Overview:  Film Sissies

The film sissy had his heyday in the 1930s, but persists as a film archetype, subtly reminding audiences that there are other ways of being than conventional heterosexuality.

literature >> Overview:  Humor

Like other minority groups, gay men and lesbians have had to develop both a particular sense of humor among themselves in order to make their marginal social status endurable and also a defensive awareness toward the rest of the world in order to disarm their adversaries with laughter.

literature >> Overview:  Modern Drama

Before Stonewall, censorship of the theater caused authors to encode homosexual content in publicly-presented plays.

arts >> Overview:  Screenwriters

Although film may be a director's rather than a writer's medium, gay and lesbian screenwriters have made significant contributions to both mainstream and independent film.

literature >> Albee, Edward

The American dramatist Edward Albee, whose career flourished in the 1960s and then waned as a result of homophobia, wrote plays with gay subtexts in which loving is the ultimate act of violence and violence is the most effective expression of love.

arts >> Barr, Richard

Theatrical producer Richard Barr is most famous for producing the works of Edward Albee, introducing the European Absurdists to Broadway, and presenting the seminal gay drama, Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band.

literature >> Inge, William Motter

Although he was closeted and created few homosexual characters, playwright and novelist William Inge frequently acknowledged the existence of gay culture and desire in both his dramatic dialogue and prose.

arts >> Roos, Don

Screenwriter and director Don Roos has won plaudits for films that feature gay and lesbian characters and that also give strong roles to women.

arts >> Yeomans, Lee Calvin "Cal"

A trailblazer in post-Stonewall gay theater, Cal Yeomans explored sex and sexuality so directly in his critically-acclaimed plays that it made his work difficult to produce even in the gay community.


Bilowit, Ira J. "Mart Crowley on 'The Boys in the Band': From Author's Anguish to NYC Revival." Back Stage 37 (June 14, 1996): 17.

Dodds, Richard. "'The Boys' Are Back." Times-Picayune (New Orleans) (July 20, 1996): E1.

Harvey, Dennis. "The Men from the Boys." Variety (November 25-December 1, 2002): 32.

Richards, David. "Bringing Back 'The Boys'; Will N.Y. Warm to Crowley's Play?" Washington Post (June 16, 1996): G1.

Rickard, John. "The Boys in the Band, 30 Years Later." The Gay & Lesbian Review Worldwide 8 (March 2001): 9.

Roca, Octavio. "'Boys' to 'Men'; Mart Crowley's Latest Play Takes 'Boys in the Band' through the Past 30 Years." San Francisco Chronicle (October 26, 2002): E1.


    Citation Information
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Crowley, Mart  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
    Publication Date: 2004  
    Date Last Updated January 9, 2005  
    Web Address  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2004, glbtq, inc.  


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