By David Savran
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Extra resources for A queer sort of materialism : recontextualizing American theater
Self-identified lesbian or gay man can conclusively and definitively One is always in the process of coming out. The association of queerness with theater is by no means novel. As a number of historians have pointed out, theaters have long and notori ously been associated with queer bodies and pleasures. Both the early Kabuki and Elizabethan stages were routinely attacked for aiding and abetting same-sex sexual practices. "6 By midcentury, one scandal sheet, Tip-Off magazine, featured an article titled, "Why They Call Broadway the 'GAY' White Way;' in which it lamented that "homosexuals have gained .
In Hipbrow, in other words, the mass-produced becomes auratic when it advertises its own world-weariness and ennui, when it both succumbs to and tries to transcend the vertiginous play of doubles. On Broadway, this neoexistentialist brand of Hipbrow is in short supply, but it did attach to the revivals of Chicago and Cabaret and plays like Art and Dirty Blonde, all of which are very much about both liveness and the allure of the copy. If the Hipbrow appeal of Rent, with its empty gestures of re bellion, has indeed replaced a part of what used to pass for middlebrow, its hegemony is undoubtedly linked not only to the triumph of decon struction but also to the near elimination of oppositional politics in the United States, a loss of faith in the idea of progress, and a profound dis illusionment with government (as "master narrative") and all forms of social engineering and welfare.
The fact that both widely produced plays feature gay men-rather than lesbians-is symptomatic of the fact that the very category "queer" in the commercial theater designates as a rule plays by and/or about gay men. The more adventurous, provocative, and highbrow of the two, Angels works actively to interrogate and un dermine the binary opposition between public and private and, indeed, to expose the presence of (usually closeted) gay men in American polit ical culture. But the play's millennialism (not unlike that, ironically, of the Christian right) functions to reassure audiences that History has a meaning and that they can awaken from the nightmare of the past.
A queer sort of materialism : recontextualizing American theater by David Savran