Straight Acting

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By Sean O'Connor , Simon Watney
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Histories of British gay male playwrights have tended to begin with a nod to Oscar Wilde and then skip right to the transgressive and overtly sexual antics of Joe Orton, Christopher Hampton, and Neil Bartlett. In Straight Acting , Sean O'Connor begins his study with Wilde, but rather than simply use him as a bellwether of witticisms, he boldly charts how Wilde's politics of individualism and sexual disruption influenced gay writers over the next half century. He examines in detail the lives, times, and works of three extraordinarily successful gay playwrights who wrote from the 1920s to the 1950s: Somerset Maugham, Noel Coward, and Terence Rattigan. While he is always sensitive to individual lives and careers, O'Connor explores and explicates a gay male tradition in popular theater that--under the nonthreatening rubrics of gentle humor and sentimentality--manages to subvert, challenge, and sometimes even shock. Beautifully written and filled with constantly surprising insights, Straight Acting almost single-handedly reinvents what we think of as the history of modern gay theater. --Michael Bronski
AuthorSean O'Connor , Simon Watney Binding Paperback
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