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Arts & Culture

An unofficial history of our struggling gay theater scene

Photo: Sarah Maspero, License: N/A

Sarah Maspero

The cast of Corpus Christi, playing at San Pedro Playhouse.



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Corpus Christi

$15-$25 (No one under age 18 admitted.)
8pm Fri-Sat, 2:30pm matinee Sun
Special Thursday performances:
8pm June 30 & July 7
Cellar Theater @ San Pedro Playhouse
800 West Ashby
(210) 733-7258
sanpedroplayhouse.com
Through July 10

“Oh Mary! It takes a fairy to make something pretty!

— Emory in The Boys in the Band

 

Take a clue from this year’s Tony telecast as Neil Patrick Harris broke into song: “If you feel like someone that this world excludes, it’s no longer only for dudes who like dudes. Attention every breeder, you're invited to the theater. It’s not just for gays anymore!”

Perhaps the good news never reached protesters outside the San Pedro Playhouse’s Cellar Theater at its sold-out opening of Terrence McNally’s Corpus Christi (see “Judas & Joshua forever,” June 22, 2011), the Jesus story reimagined with a homosexual man named Joshua living and dying in Texas. After all, when local interfaith leaders stood together to denounce McNally’s controversial play, the San Pedro Playhouse bravely stood its ground and its commitment to artistic freedom. They didn’t blink.

Cause for celebration? Not quite. Visible and public support for the San Pedro from the San Antonio theatrical (SATCO) and artistic community was next to nil. The gay community has got to take up the cause when an injustice is done to the LGBT community. We need to be fierce and fearless and hold those politicos and professional civil-rights advocates’ feet to the fire. They always ask our vote and support, but where are they when the going get tough, when we need them to stand up and be counted?

Thankfully, McNally, whose “Catch Me If You Can,” is a big Tony-winning hit on Broadway, came to the rescue and even wrote a letter of appreciation for the Cellar production playbill. McNally wrote: “Good theater is never easy to do. Our job is even more challenging when viewed under the hostile scrutiny of people who want to be heard more than they want to listen.”

And while the protest may have intended to keep audiences away, the opposite occurred. Corpus Christi has been sold out night after night, and its run was recently extended through July 10.

Doing gay theater in this town is damn difficult — and lonely. Only a handful of theaters program shows that directly address the gay community. Even fewer black and Latino theaters seem open to these works. I know. This is Texas. Who watched the Tony Awards when the Mavericks and Heat were battling it out for the NBA crown? No-brainer.

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