Mart Crowley Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Mart Crowley is known primarily for his plays. He wrote the screenplay for a 1970 film adaptation of The Boys in the Band. He is also the screenwriter of Cassandra at the Wedding and co-author of Fade-in (neither screenplay released), and has several teleplays to his credit.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Mart Crowley brought the subject of male homosexuality into the open in the American theater with his 1968 comedy-drama The Boys in the Band. His plays are characterized by a clashing mix of personality types and a keen comic sense for one-liners. The significance of Crowley’s work rests entirely on his first play and its introduction of a once-taboo subject. The play and the subsequent film adaptation of it are important milestones in the history of gay activism in the United States. Unlike Tennessee Williams, William Inge, and Edward Albee, who kept the topic of homosexual passions on the periphery of their work, Crowley made the initial leap that openly established gay drama and unapologetically linked his own life with his writing. The playwright’s outrageously comical dialogue and his daring display of his own emotional failures are the most impressive and perhaps the most enduring of his contributions to the stage. A 1996 revival of Boys in the Band at the WPA Theatre in New York City received critical and audience substantiation of its durability, relevance, and historical importance twenty-eight years after its first production.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Carlsen, James W. “Images of the Gay Male in Contemporary Drama.” In Gayspeak: Gay Male and Lesbian Communication, edited by James W. Chesebro. New York: Pilgrim Press, 1981. A serious examination of the effects of Crowley’s play on social perceptions of homosexuals in the early 1970’s, and of subsequent changes in the dramatic interpretations of gay characters, such as in Lanford Wilson’s Fifth of July (pr., pb. 1978) and Martin Sherman’s Bent (pr., pb. 1979).

DeGaetani, John L. A Search for a Postmodern Theater: Interviews with Contemporary Playwrights. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. Discusses The Boys in the Band, especially Michael’s Catholicism; Crowley notes that, as of 1991, the “Catholic Church still teaches that homosexual practices are a sin.” Good update on Crowley’s views on gay rights, homophobia, Cardinal John Joseph O’Connor, and AIDS.

Epstein, Hap. Review of For Reasons That Remain Unclear by Mart Crowley. Washington, D.C., Times, November 15, 1993. Epstein points out that whether or not the play holds autobiographical clues, the playwright’s drought is over. Citing the play as “particularly good and gutsy,” he commends Crowley’s treatment of the issue of child molestation and the Catholic priesthood.

Feingold, Michael....

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