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Special Features Index  


Modern Drama and Dramatists

  In Modern Drama, comprising works from the 1870s to the 1970s, explicitly homosexual themes and characters were only rarely depicted. Official censorship of the theater caused most dramatists to encode homosexual content in publicly-presented plays.  


  Tennessee Williams in 1965
Tennessee Williams in 1965.
  J. R. Ackerley (1896-1967), was a twentieth-century editor and writer who fostered the careers of a number of important gay writers. His only play, The Prisoners of War (1925), is considered the first British play to address homosexual desire openly.  
  Edward AlbeeEdward Albee (b. 1928) enjoyed a flourishing career in the 1960s. It waned as a result of homophobia, but revived at the beginning of the twenty-first century. He wrote plays with gay subtexts in which loving is the ultimate act of violence and violence is the most effective expression of love.
  Bertolt BrechtBertolt Brecht (1898-1956) was Germany's most celebrated and influential twentieth-century dramatist. He depicted homosexual desire in his early writings, where it is cloaked in ambiguity and tied to issues of power.  
  Jane ChambersJane Chambers (1937-1983) was one of the first American playwrights to create openly lesbian characters who were comfortable with their own homosexuality.  
  Jean Cocteau (1889-1963) wrote plays as well as poems, essays, and novels.  
  Noël CowardSir Noël Coward (1899-1973), a British playwright, actor, screenwriter, producer, singer, and songwriter, was the self-crowned laureate of his age. Although most of Coward's plays are about heterosexual couples, they are written in the language and spirit of camp and reject traditional domestic values.
  Mart CrowleyMart Crowley (b. 1935) deserves honor for having blazed the trail for gay-themed theater with his 1969 groundbreaking play The Boys in the Band.  

Federico García LorcaFederico García Lorca (1898-1936), Spain's most prominent twentieth-century lyric poet and dramatist, created works filled with thinly veiled homosexual motifs and themes.


  Jean Genet (1910-1986) wrote provocative and powerful plays that reflect the author's abiding interest in questions of sexual orientation and gender identity.
  André GideAndré Gide (1869-1951), one of the premier French writers of the twentieth century, reflected his homosexuality in many of his numerous works. His play Saul (1896) may be the first modern gay drama.  
  Joe Orton (1933-1967), the gay British playwright, is perhaps the finest writer of farce in the twentieth century and an important precursor of the queer literary movement.  
  Robert PatrickRobert Patrick (b. 1937) is a founding father of gay drama in America and an influence in the development of gay drama in England, though his work is often ignored by mainstream critics and historians.  
  Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) was conflicted over his own sexuality and wrote directly about homosexuality only in his short stories, his poetry, and his late plays.  
  Doric WilsonDoric Wilson (b. 1939), a pioneer in the development of contemporary gay theater, has been instrumental in Off-Off-Broadway theater in New York City since the early 1960s.
  Lanford WilsonLanford Wilson (b. 1937), an American dramatist, occasionally depicts gay subjects. When he does, his is a powerful voice speaking of the lives of gay men.  


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