Rep Stage Ushers in 20th Anniversary Season with The Temperamentals

Aug 13, 2012
Rep Stage

Rep Stage, the professional Equity theatre in residence at Howard Community College (HCC), opens its 20th anniversary season with Jon Marans' award winning comedy-drama "The Temperamentals." Described as "'Mad Men' meets 'Milk,'" this witty, intelligent and moving play opens the closet doors on lovers Harry Hay and Rudi Gernreich in 1950's Los Angeles as they build the Mattachine Society, the first gay rights organization in the United States. "The Temperamentals" is directed by Helen Hayes Award winner Kasi Campbell, and stars fellow Helen Hayes Award winner and Rep Stage regular Nigel Reed along with Vaughn Irving, Rick Hammerly, Brandon McCoy and Alexander Strain. "The Temperamentals" opens August 29, 2012, with a limited run through September 16 in the Studio Theatre of the Horowitz Visual and Performing Arts Center (HVPA) on the campus of HCC.

For Rep Stage's Producing Artistic Director, Michael Stebbins, "The Temperamentals" holds a special place in his heart. "In 2009 I purchased tickets to see 'The Temperamentals' Off-Broadway. I took my mentor, friend, and 'gay uncle' Walt Witcover. Walt just recently entered into a very difficult time in his life. This is a man I've known for over 25 years - he'll be 88 later this month. Walt's partner of 36 years passed away in 1996. They called me the son they never had. Walt and his partner, Richard, talked about their experiences being gay in the 50's, being entrapped by policemen, finding safe houses for gay men where they could go to be themselves, clubs both social and sexual. What courage and strength it took to be 'out' in those days - to fight for rights and/or recognition. After seeing 'The Temperamentals,' I thought of it as a dedication to all of those who persevered so that people like me could live the life that I lead today. When the lights came up after the performance, Walt and I sat for a long time and talked about it. It was important to both of us. I've been so fortunate to explore these worlds, meet some of these people. Plays like 'The Temperamentals' make me wonder about the oh-so-many men and women who I'll never meet, never know, who helped to make our world a better and more accepting place."

Stebbins adds, "The playwright, Jon Marans, let me know how thrilled he was that Rep Stage was producing 'The Temperamentals,' and he shared that he also felt that 'this play was a dedication to all those who persevered so that we can live the life we live today.'"

Of the 2010 Drama Desk Award-winning play, Ben Brantley of the New York Times wrote: "Amazing, isn't it, what could be hidden behind those sober jackets and ties that made American men look all but interchangeable in the early 1950s...Marans' eminently likable docudrama about gay identity in the age of Eisenhower begins with a classic vision of mid-20th-century uniformity... guys in off-the-peg suits, as anonymous as the standard-issue...Yet it doesn't make the mistake of letting its characters exchange one set of stereotypical traits (timid, oppressed, self-loathing) for another (confident, assertive, proud). The diversity that's celebrated here is within each of the individuals portrayed. This awareness of the lively inconsistencies that teem within any personality makes 'The Temperamentals' more than just an inspirational history lesson."