The Boys in the Band

by Mart Crowley

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The Boys in the Band was one of the first plays to show gay life realistically. Research ways that plays and movies presented gay people before 1968 and explain what these depictions say about society’s attitudes toward gays.

Why do you think Crowley decided to set this play at a birthday party? Discuss how Harold’s birthday affects each of the characters on the stage. Explain how you think the play would have been different if it had been set elsewhere.

Use the Internet to find out about the many references to movies and literature that are made in this play, from Barbara Stanwyck to Lady Chatterly, ‘‘Down to Earth,’’ and so forth. Identify aspects from each that might appeal to the characters in the play and then propose modern movies, books, and actors that they might like if this play took place today.

If you were going to cast a revival of this play, which actors would you want to play each of the parts? Why?

Do some research and come up with photos of the kinds of clothes and hairstyles you think these contemporary, urbane young men would have been wearing in the 1960s.

How much do you think alcohol and drug use affects what goes on in this play? Research the chemical effects of alcohol and marijuana and use those findings to explain the behavior of Michael, Emory, Bernard, and the rest.

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