The Trouble With Harry

Gay playwright Jon Marans tackles the Mattachine Society -- with the help of Ugly Betty star Michael Urie -- in his new play, The Temperamentals.

BY Robert Hilferty

May 01 2009 12:00 AM ET

THE TEMPERMENTALS X390 (Michael Portainiere/FollowSpotPhoto.com) | ADVOCATE.COM

You could have called the play
When Harry Met Rudi.

So they started they Mattachine Society together. That's
another odd word ...

Harry found that medieval word, which refers to
Saturday Night Live

-like comedy troupes that would tour in Italy and France.
Underneath the comedy was a serious political message they were
trying to impart.

So what's the drama?

It's basically this mission-impossible story about Harry and
Rudi trying to start the first gay political party during a
very dangerous time, at the height of the Red Scare. Anyone
could be a cop. In a nutshell, if Harry hadn't come along in
1950, there would never have been a Stonewall. He, Rudi, and
three others -- Bob Hull, Dale Jennings, and Chuck Rowland --
were the founding fathers of the gay movement. The fascinating
thing about these guys is that they were all Communists,
because only Communists would be crazy and political enough to
form this sort of organization. They were literally risking
their lives and reputations to do what they did.

Is there a love angle?

Yes. At the time Rudi was involved with Harry, he was becoming
more and more famous as a costume designer. So he had to decide
if he wanted to go back into the closet in order to pursue [his
career], or stay with the organization. So it's very much a
love story of which he's going to choose. He chose fame. Harry
later started the Radical Faeries.

Tags: Theater

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