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Wolfe, George C. (b. 1954)  
 
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The piece, which "evoke[s] the racial, sexual, and intellectual ferment of New York in the 1920s," features "a parade of bizarre characters," including a "sexually ambitious" vaudeville actress, an "ambisextrous" playboy, a lesbian stripper, and two gay, black, incestuous songwriter brothers.

Although described by one reviewer as "easily the most fascinating Broadway show of the year," The Wild Party received mixed reviews and closed after a short run.

Sponsor Message.

Harlem Song--"a combination Broadway-style musical and Harlem history lesson"--is a multi-media show featuring photographs and newsreel footage from the 1930s through the 1960s as well as musical numbers from the various periods. Wolfe wrote the piece for the reopening of the refurbished Apollo Theater in 2002.

In 2003, Wolfe directed the acclaimed and unusual musical Caroline, or Change by Tony Kushner and Jeanine Tesori. Set in Civil Rights-era Louisiana, the story focuses on a Black maid who works for a Jewish family at a time of profound social change. In May 2004, the musical moved to Broadway, where it ran for four months.

Wolfe also recently has directed Suzan-Lori Parks' Topdog/Underdog, which won the 2002 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. The play, about two black brothers, has been widely praised for its insights into family dynamics and competitiveness. After its run at the Public, it was moved to Broadway.

"Democratic Fascist"

As a director, Wolfe calls himself "the most democratic fascist you'll ever meet," listening to all opinions before handing down a final decision--one consistent with his own vision of a project.

Joe Mantello, directed by Wolfe in Angels and himself the director of Terrence McNally's Love! Valour! Compassion!, echoes this assessment, calling Wolfe "a patient tyrant...[who] sees very clearly what he wants, and you end up there--but feeling that you've done it all on your own." Blade playwright Oliver Mayer says that Wolfe encouraged him "to push the envelope, to be brave."

Wolfe is widely admired for his exuberance and energy, his strong work ethic, and his abiding commitment to bringing cultural diversity to the stage and a culturally diverse audience to the theater.

After more than a decade of success at the helm of the Public Theater, Wolfe announced in late 2004 that he would be leaving the post to pursue opportunities in film direction. His first project was Lackawanna Blues, a screen adaptation of Ruben Santiago-Hudson's semi-autobiographical play.

The movie was enthusiastically received at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2005 prior to being broadcast on HBO in February. Robert Bianco of USA Today called Lackawanna Blues "an auspicious film directing debut" for Wolfe, adding that "in his hands what was on stage a man telling stories is now a storybook come to life."

Wolfe seems poised for further success in this new phase of his career.

Linda Rapp

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    Bibliography
   

Barbour, David. "Night People: Surreal Illumination Fuels The Wild Party." Lighting Dimensions (July 2000): Dance Section.

Bay, Willow. "Profile of George C. Wolfe, Producer of Joseph Papp Theater." CNN Pinnacle (July 13, 2002): Transcript #071300CN.V39.

Bianco, Robert. "HBO's Bright ?Lackawanna Blues? Holds Sway." USA Today (February 11, 2005): 1E.

Dominguez, Robert. "Years Swing by in Lively Revue; Harlem History on Parade at Apollo." Daily News (New York) (July 11, 2002): NOW Section, 43.

McNeil, Donald G., Jr. "George Wolfe and His Theater of Inclusion." New York Times (April 23, 1995): Sec. 2, 1.

Pacheco, Patrick. "Forget Jelly, George Is Jammin'." Los Angeles Times (November 20, 1994): 8.

_____. "Rap, Tap and . . . 'Macbeth'?" Los Angeles Times (March 1, 1998): 5.

_____. "Wolfe Is Opening Doors to Theater of a New Century." Baltimore Sun (March 7, 1995): 1D.

Thelen, Lawrence. "George C. Wolfe." The Show Makers: Great Directors of American Musical Theater. New York and London: Routledge, 2000. 209-225.

"Wolfe, George C." Current Biography Yearbook 1994. Judith Graham, ed. New York: The H.W. Wilson Company, 1994. 622-626.

 

    Citation Information
         
    Author: Rapp, Linda  
    Entry Title: Wolfe, George C.  
    General Editor: Claude J. Summers  
    Publication Name: glbtq: An Encyclopedia of Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual,
Transgender, and Queer Culture
 
    Publication Date: 2002  
    Date Last Updated March 3, 2005  
    Web Address www.glbtq.com/arts/wolfe_gc.html  
    Publisher glbtq, Inc.
1130 West Adams
Chicago, IL   60607
 
    Today's Date  
    Encyclopedia Copyright: © 2002-2006, glbtq, Inc.  
    Entry Copyright © 2002, glbtq, Inc.  
 

 

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