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Durang, Christopher (b. 1949)  
 
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In Durang's more recent work, straight characters take on the hyper-sexuality stereotypically associated with gay men. Lulu in Sex and Longing needs to have sex every fifteen minutes, while in Betty's Summer Vacation, Buck proudly displays a scrapbook containing photos of his penis.

In addition to commenting on the state of contemporary life in the United States, Durang often reinterprets classic works of literature and film to exaggerate queer elements. His one-act play For Whom the Southern Belle Tolls (1994) is a reworking of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie wherein the shy sister Laura becomes a young man obsessed with glass cocktail stirrers and whose "feminine" caller is a butch lesbian. Durang also makes explicit the underlying homosexuality of the character of the older brother, Tom, by having him cruise for sailors.

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In addition to the Obie Award he received for Sister Mary Ignatius, Durang subsequently received Obies for The Marriage of Bette and Boo and Betty's Summer Vacation.

Although Durang is primarily a playwright, he is also an accomplished character actor. He has acted in his own works and, notably, with Julie Andrews in the Sondheim revue, Putting It Together (1993). Durang has made frequent appearances in small film and television roles.

Since 1994, Durang has been co-chair (with Marsha Norman) of the playwriting program at the Juilliard School in Manhattan.

Christopher Durang's popularity as a playwright was greatest in the 1980s, when his viciously funny, politically edged plays received a string of successful New York productions. His most successful plays combine autobiography with witty references to pop culture, literature, and drama. Durang's is a distinctive voice in American comedy, at once angry, intelligent, and queer.

Brandon Hayes

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literature >> Overview:  Contemporary Drama

Since Stonewall, gay and lesbian drama has flourished, especially in the United States.

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.

arts >> Overview:  Musical Theater and Film

The musical has been a significant aspect of American gay male culture, manifesting itself both in diva worship and, more recently, in the presentation of openly gay characters and shows written by gay writers primarily for gay audiences.

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.

arts >> Overview:  Theater Companies

Gay and lesbian theater companies attempt to create their own communities, while also fostering a sense of solidarity with the glbtq community and educating the larger society.

arts >> Long, William Ivey

Among the most prolific and respected of contemporary costume designers in America, William Ivey Long has always been openly gay in his professional life.

arts >> Sondheim, Stephen

One of the most innovative talents of the musical theater in the second half of the twentieth century, Stephen Sondheim has only indirectly reflected his homosexuality in his work.

literature >> Williams, Tennessee

Conflicted over his own sexuality, Tennessee Williams wrote directly about homosexuality only in his short stories, his poetry, and his late plays.


    Bibliography
   

Durang, Christopher. Twenty-Seven Short Plays, Collected Works: Vol. I. Lyme, N. H.: Smith and Kraus, 1995.

_____. Complete Full-Length Plays, 1975-1995. Lyme, N. H.: Smith and Kraus, 1995.

Isherwood, Charles. "The Tuna Fish Can Incident and Other Injustices of Life." The New York Times (June 16, 2005): E5.

Osbourn, M. Elizabeth. The Way We Live Now: American Plays & the AIDS Crisis. New York: Theatre Communications Group, 1990.

Sinfield, Alan. Out on Stage: Lesbian and Gay Theater in the Twentieth Century. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1999.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Hayes, Brandon  
    Entry Title: Durang, Christopher  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2005  
    Date Last Updated August 19, 2005  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/durang_c.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2005, glbtq, inc.  
 

 

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