Every Act of Life
Playwright Terrence McNally has imbued the American theater with soul and wit for half a century, with hits including The Lisbon Traviata; Lips Together, Teeth Apart; Master Class; and Love! Valour! Compassion! The poet laureate of fierce vulnerability, McNally movingly brought gay (and straight) characters to life on and off Broadway, through an unflinching blend of comedy and pathos—declaring and asserting his own identity with every step. Jeff Kaufman’s affectionate profile—featuring a who’s who of admirers including Nathan Lane, Angela Lansbury, Christine Baranski, and Edie Falco—invites us backstage and onstage with the top tier of New York theater.
On the wings of a pen and a precocious self-confidence, McNally high-tailed it out of gay-unfriendly Corpus Christi, Texas, as soon as he finished high school. Buoyed by the teacher who encouraged his writing talent, the future Tony, Obie, Drama Desk, and Emmy winner enrolled at Columbia and, eventually and fortuitously, gravitated to playwriting. McNally relates his story with a hard-earned mix of rueful candor and elder-statesman sagacity, revisiting pivotal relationships with fellow playwrights Edward Albee and Wendy Wasserstein and actor Robert Drivas, as well as the stings and triumphs of a life in the theater.
McNally was a pioneer in openly acknowledging his homosexuality and, more importantly, celebrating the gamut of gay life—aspirations, satisfactions, struggles, and losses—through hyper-articulate characters in widely seen and talked-about plays. Few writers are as gifted as Terrence McNally, let alone as insistent and persistent.
— MICHAEL FOX
- Premiere Status: West Coast