Harvey Fierstein Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Harvey Fierstein writes for both stage and screen. He based his screenplay Torch Song Trilogy (1988) on the three one-act plays published under the same name, and his teleplay Tidy Endings (1988) was a screen adaptation of the third play of his Safe Sex trilogy. He also wrote the teleplay Kaddish and Old Men (1987).


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Harvey Fierstein has received numerous awards for his writing and for his acting, both on stage and screen. He received a Special Citation Obie in 1981-1982 for his play Torch Song Trilogy. The following year, he won two Tony Awards (Best Play and Best Actor) for Torch Song Trilogy, and in 1984, La Cage aux folles received the Tony Award for Best Musical. In 1988 he received the Fennecus Award for his adapted screenplay Torch Song Trilogy and for his performances of the songs “Love for Sale” and “Svelte” in that film. In 1989 he was presented with the Independent Spirit Award for his leading role in the film Torch Song Trilogy. He won Fennecus Awards for his acting in Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993 and in Bullets Over Broadway in 1994, Apex Awards for Actor in a Supporting Role in Mrs. Doubtfire in 1993 and Independence Day in 1996, a GLAAD Award for visibility in 1994, and the Humanitas Prize in children’s animation for The Sissy Duckling in 2000. He has received awards and other honors from Theater World, Oppenheimer, the Dramatists Guild, Hull/Warriner, Drama Desk, and the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle, and he was honored with a plaque on Brooklyn’s Walk of Fame. He has received grants from the Ford and Rockefeller foundations.

His distinctive voice has made him a popular reader of audio books as well as the voice for characters in animated films such as Mulan (1998). He narrated the Academy Award-winning documentary The Times of Harvey Milk (1984). He wrote and starred in the multiple Ace Award-winning Home Box Office (HBO) Showcase production Tidy Endings. His performance album This Is Not Going to Be Pretty is destined, according to some reviewers, to become “a classic in the vein of Lenny Bruce and George Carlin.”


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Connema, Richard. “San Francisco’s Torch Song.” Talkin’ Broadway’s Regional News: San Francisco Reviews, June 27, 2000. Presents a history of Torch Song Trilogy and a study of the drama itself as well as a review of a 2000 theater production. Connema calls the play, which he also saw in the 1980’s, “the best gay play written at the time; far superior to Boys in the Band.”

Ebert, Roger. “Torch Song Trilogy.” Chicago Sun-Times, December 23, 1988. Offers insight into the ideas behind the film and praises Fierstein’s on-screen portrayal of the character he had initially created for the stage. Ebert calls the film “more intimate and intense” than the play; and in saying that the main character is more comfortable with his sexuality than with other facets of himself, he concludes that “homosexuality is not his problem—it is the arena for his problems.”

Fierstein, Harvey. “His Heart Is Young and Gay.” Interview by Jack Kroll. Newsweek, June 20, 1983. Focuses on Fierstein’s emergence as a successful gay playwright.

Fierstein, Harvey. Interview by Harry Stein. Playboy 35 (August, 1988). A comprehensive appraisal of Fierstein’s writing.

Hungerford, Jason. “My Reaction to Torch Song Trilogy.” Pflag-Talk, January 19, 1997. Offers a response to the film that addresses and underlines the reality with which the stage and screen version of Fierstein’s Torch Song Trilogy deals. Hungerford is inspired by Fierstein’s film to say that “it’s because of the kids who live on the streets, and the innocent children disowned by their parents, and the people who have lost their respectable jobs, and the people who have died senseless deaths, it’s because of all of them that I do what I do.”