Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Relationships from Chicago to New Delhi

Ward and Barry in India

Thirty years ago when I wrote A Perfect Relationship, I had two main objectives in mind. First, to preserve a record of the first decade of liberation and the difficulties the male ego presents when a man loves a man. I also hoped that the humor of the play would disarm some small bit of the bigotry that we even now all encounter. Comedy unites. Or so I have been told.

But I had another sort of secret agenda. While I wanted to capture in amber queer NYC in the late 1970s, I also wanted the script to have an extended shelf life. Mark Finley’s flawless revival of A Perfect Relationship here in the city in April 2003 proved the play still has legs, as they say. (
http://www.tosos2.org/Perfect.htm ) It also showcased some of the best performances I have ever seen in a play of mine.

Eileen T’Kaye, who picked me up at a burrito stand on Santa Monica Boulevard in West Hollywood in the late 1980s, flew East to play a memorable Muriel. Christopher Borg, the single most versatile actor I have ever seen, played Tom, Dick and Harry. (He is waiting for me to make a nasty dig, but I’m not gonna.) As for Barry, one of my all time favorite character inventions, I have been lucky enough to see two actors give definitive performances: the late Adam Caparell back in the 1970s, and Kevin Held in this production. I suspect Kevin would excel in any role in any play I could ever write.

The 2003 TOSOS revival of A Perfect Relationship opened the same night Bush threw his temper-tantrum in Iraq. His war got the audience. There have been other recent productions, including the 2008 Gay and Lesbian Theatre Festival in Colorado Springs; William Prater’s production initiating the Black Box Theater in Nashville; and a reading last fall presented by the People’s Theater of Chicago as part of their Legacy Project (
http://www.peoplestheaterchicago.org/# ). I watched a DVD of the reading and could not be happier with the cast. (See AK Miller’s reports from Chicago below)

I have just received news that the Chicago reading has developed into a full production of A Perfect Relationship, planned to open June 18 and play Thursdays and Fridays until July 10. Co-produced by People’s Theater and the Leather Archives & Museum, it will be performed in the Etienne Auditorium at the Archive located at 6481 Greenview Avenue, Chicago, IL. (
http://www.leatherarchives.org/ ). If I can find a packing crate large enough, I intend to ship myself out to see it. (The last time I was around the leather scene in Chicago was way back in the days of the Gold Coast!)

Of all my plays, A Perfect Relationship, is the most site specific. It is clearly set on Christopher Street in Greenwich Village in the late 1970s. Or it was until about four years ago when Sameer Thakur contacted me via the Internet. He asked my permission to relocate the play to New Delhi. What little I know about Indian culture made me more than a mite doubtful. But, hey, I always say my plays belong to the community they were written for, so I gave my permission. And actually sort of forgot about it. After all, it wasn’t possible, was it? Or was it?

Earlier this year, Cathaayatra (I am told "cathaa yatra" means "journey of stories" in Hindi) presented A Perfect Relationship in New Delhi, hoping the localization would broaden the Indian view of alternative sexuality. Seems it worked and the production directed by Sameer Thakur (Sukhesh Arora, Zain Bhana, Arushi Singh, Shiv Narayanan and Vikrant Yadav in the cast) has proven to be a huge hit. (review links below). As I understand it, they perform the play when and where they can. I am told the audience in New Delhi finds my play very funny. I doubt they realize their laugher reaches all the way from India to New York City where it gives me a very warm feeling on a cold winter night.

This is why I write the plays I write. (And I suspect Marge would be very pleased.)

Reviews for the Indian production:

1 comment:

Frank Anthony Polito said...

Having had the honor of playing "Greg" in the 2003 revival of APR, I will say that this play is an actor's dream! I was but a child when Doric wrote the play, but after reading it, I felt as if the role had been written especially for ME... And Doric's right--Chris Borg IS the single most versatile actor! It was a pleasure to share the stage with him and the rest of the APR cast.