The enduring appeal of the homosexual group dynamic in theater Screenshot from Spotlight On: The Boys in the Band via Broadwaycom Don't miss out Subscribe Sign up for our newsletter to get submission announcements and stay on top of our best work. Nothing seems to rally theatre fans quite like a play starring, and about, attractive, complicated gay men. In London, The Inheritance , Angels in America , and A Little Life are among the most important cultural events of the last decade. But beneath the erotically charged marketing campaigns featuring solemn, turtleneck-clad or partially nude actors draped over one another, it's worth considering why, time and again, we turn to a collective group of gay peers to tell our stories in theatre. When I think about the canon of important modern theatre, the most prominent gay representation comes in the form of shows with an ensemble of gay characters: those I mentioned above, as well as The Boys in the Band and Love! Valour! Compassion! being notable examples. This has led me to wonder: is a choral cast structure necessary for an authentic representation of gay lives and stories—or is it mere coincidence? So far in the canon of theatre, it appears that gay men are most truthfully represented when gayness is the default, rather than a token, an exception, or a novelty to be exploited for plot. It can feel like a trope, one existing in parallel to famous scripts about groups of women (e.g., Sex and the City , Little Women , Girls, Golden or otherwise), in which the absence of male protagonists is intrinsic to the story's DNA. It's fitting, however, that queer people have taken to the stage (rather than the screen) to hold court. Theatre is where, for centuries, characters have raged and grown and pushed against the boundaries of human experience through emotional expression. This is best—and perhaps exclusively—true for gay men. Of course, stories in which we are the comfortable majority, aren't reflective of most contexts in daily life (a shame, really)—but is that not the power of theatre? To wield […]
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