Multiple Drammy-award winning nonprofit defunkt theatre — whose recent performance Fire Island was highlighted in our March issue — announced earlier this week that their thirteenth season will be their queerest yet. In addition to their previously-announced productions of Harold Pinter’s The Homecoming and Richard Greenberg’s Three Days of Rain, the company will also be presenting Herstory/History, a pair of historic plays which both served as some of the earliest depictions of homosexuality in mainstream theatre. Both directed by Jon Kretzu, the plays mirror and inform each other, illuminating both us both how far we have come as a society, and how far we yet have to go.
The first of Herstory/History’s offerings is Lillian Hellman’s The Children’s Hour. The story of two the story of two women falsely accused of a sexual relationship and the devastating consequences of that lie. First presented in 1934, the play was banned in Boston, Chicago, and London for its frank portrayal of lesbian themes. Recently re-launched on London’s West End, the play’s themes of social stigma in schools still speaks lucidly to the experiences of queer people in educational environments.
The Children’s Hour will be presented in repertory with Mart Crowley’s The Boys in the Band. The 1968 play was perhaps the first positive depiction of gay male life, scandalizing mainstream audiences in the year before the Stonewall Riots. Presented as a site-specific performance, the play will be presented in a local apartment complex to add a further dimension of reality to Crowley’s tale of nine gay men enjoying a particularly heated and revealing birthday party.
Both plays will be presented May 10 through June 15, 2013 — conveniently synching them up with the 2013 Pride season. As they are certain to be popular, theatre fans should consider purchasing season tickets for defunkt’s full run to ensure that they have their seats for the entire thrilling line-up.