Terrence McNally Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

In addition to his stage plays, Terrence McNally has written scripts and revised play scripts for screen, television, and radio. His teleplays include Botticelli (1968), The Five Forty-eight (1979, adapted from a John Cheever story), and André’s Mother (1990). Among his screenplays are The Ritz (1976) and Frankie and Johnny (1991). McNally has also contributed several articles and interviews to The Dramatists Guild Quarterly.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Throughout his career, experimenting freely with style and technique, Terrence McNally has revealed a chameleonlike ability to adopt new comic guises. His earliest works, such as And Things That Go Bump in the Night and Next, reflect the influence of the Theater of the Absurd in their trenchant, black-humor ridiculing of a variety of social values and institutions. Moving toward a more sympathetic engagement in the plight of his characters, McNally has gradually muted his comic vision, producing plays such as The Lisbon Traviata and Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune, which, though witty, are far more lyrical, sensitive, and forgiving.

McNally has been awarded two Guggenheim Fellowships and won an Obie Award (for Bad Habits in 1974) and an Emmy Award (for the teleplay André’s Mother in 1991). He received citations from the American Academy of Arts and Letters and the National Institute for Arts and Letters for Achievement in Playwriting for The Ritz. He won the Tony Award for best book of a musical for both Kiss of the Spider Woman in 1993 and Ragtime in 1998. Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class won both the Tony Award and Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Play in 1995 and 1996, respectively. McNally also received a Pulitzer Prize nomination for A Perfect Ganesh in 1994. He is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Letters and in 1981 became vice president of the Dramatists Guild.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Albee, Edward. “Edward Albee in Conversation with Terrence McNally.” Interview by Terrence McNally. The Dramatists Guild Quarterly 22 (Summer, 1985): 12-23. As vice president of the Dramatists Guild, McNally has conducted interviews with fellow playwrights. This important example chronicles Albee’s career with important parallels to McNally’s own, with an emphasis on the new playwrights of the early 1960’s.

Barnes, Clive. “Making the Most of Ritz Steam Bath.” Review of The Ritz, by Terrence McNally. The New York Times, January 21, 1975, p. 40. Barnes notes McNally’s ability to write an engaging and zany farce based on situation. An even-tempered assessment by an important theater critic.

Bryer, Jackson R. “Terrence McNally.” Interview with Terrence McNally. In The Playwright’s Art: Conversations with Contemporary American Playwrights. New Brunswick, N.J.: Rutgers University Press, 1995. A long interview with the playwright conducted in 1991, when he was poised on the brink of wider recognition following the success of Lips Together, Teeth Apart. McNally reflects honestly on all aspects of his career and offers particularly pointed commentary on the state of theater in the United States.

De Sousa, Geraldo U. “Terrence McNally.” In American Playwrights...

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