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Forbidden Acts: Pioneering Gay & Lesbian Plays of the 20th Century Paperback – September 1, 2003


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This well-selected anthology chronologically examines 10 plays that "are notable for having explored gay or lesbian themes in what might be loosely termed a 'pioneering' way." Encompassing genres from drama and tragedy to romance and comedy, the works discussed include 1910's The God of Vengeance by Sholom Ash, 1934's The Children's Hour by Lillian Hellman, 1965's The Killing of Sister George by Frank Marcus and 1994's Love! Valour! Compassion! by Terrence McNally. For each play, Hodges gives the full text, and, for some, he shares a brief overview that puts the play in context. The compilation-which includes three out-of-print plays-deftly shows how the 20th-century stage progressed from burying and implying homosexuality to showing gay characters with an "unapologetic, happenstance presentation." Scholars of gay and lesbian history, as well as theater buffs, will want to add this important volume to their collections. Photos.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

"This long overdue anthology is more than welcome; It seems a necessity. Some of the plays are familiar; some are of the 'where have you been all our lives?' variety; all of them are essential to understanding the contribution and evolution of Gay Theatre in our time." --Terrence McNally, Playwright


"Forbidden Acts" is essential for readers of all persuasions. At this turning point in the nation's history of gays and lesbians, it's a remarkable reader of our crossing the stage in the 20th century; entrance, stage right, as problems of society--to our commanding center stage, as 'pillars.'" --Paula Vogel,  playwright

This well-selected anthology chronologically examines 10 plays that""are notable for having explored gay or lesbian themes in what might be loosely termed a 'pioneering' way."" Scholars of gay and lesbian history, as well as theater buffs, will want to add this important volume to their collections. --Publishers Weekly

"Years from now, when they speak of lesbian and gay plays, and they will, they will speak of Forbidden Acts. Editor Ben Hodges's smart introduction locates each play in historical and critical contexts then allows the dramas, comedies, and tragedies to speak for themselves." --The Advocate

More About the Author

As an actor, director, and/or producer, Ben Hodges has appeared in New York with The Barrow Group Theater Company, Origin Theater Company, Daedalus Theater Company, Monday Morning Productions, the Strawberry One-Act Festival, Coyote Girls Productions, Jet Productions, New York Actors' Alliance, and Outcast Productions. Additionally, he has appeared in numerous productions presented by theatre companies that he founded, including the Tuesday Group and Visionary Works. On film, he can be seen in Macbeth: The Comedy.

Based on his development of the 2000 Showcase Code production of Wendy McCleod's Things Being What They Are, a script that McCleod credits Ben with bringing to her attention after lying dormant for over ten years, the playwright revised the script and a full production opened to critical acclaim at Seattle Repertory Theatre in April 2003 and a twice-extended run at the Steppenwolf in Chicago.

In 2001, Ben became director of development and then served as executive director for Fat Chance Productions Inc. and the Ground Floor Theatre, a New York-based nonprofit theatre and film production company. Prey for Rock and Roll was developed by Fat Chance from their stage production (the first legit theatrical production to play CBGBs) into a critically acclaimed feature film starring The Sopranos' Emmy winner Drea de Matteo and Gina Gershon. Prey for Rock and Roll debuted at the 2003 Sundance Film Festival and won Best Feature at the 2003 Santa Cruz Film Festival. Additionally, Fat Chance produced the American premiere of award-winning Irish playwright Enda Walsh's Misterman Off-Broadway, as well as conducted numerous readings, workshops, and productions in their Ground Floor Theatre, their mission statement being to present new works by new artists. Chief among projects housed in the Ground Floor Theatre was Closet Chronicles, starring Emmy winner Marilyn Sokol, which The New Yorker called "...a spry comedy." In 2004, his directed Lawrence Dukore's one-act When Men Were Men, the winner of the Audience Award at the tenth annual Turnip Theater Company's Fifteen Minute Play Festival.

In 2003 Ben organized NOOBA, the New Off-Off Broadway Association, an advocacy group dedicated to representing the concerns of expressly Off-Off-Broadway producers in the public forum and in negotiations with other local professional arts organizations. Ben and NOOBA have been influential in an effort to rehabilitate the Actors' Equity Showcase Code, the production agreement that Ben considers the most detrimental obstacle to developmental theatre production in New York City since the first production opened in New York in the eighteenth century.

Ben served as an editorial assistant for six years on the 2001 Special Tony Honor Award-winning Theatre World, at sixty-six years of age, the most complete annual pictorial and statistical record of the American theatre, including Broadway, Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, and regional theatre productions. He became coeditor with John Willis in 1998, and editor in chief upon Mr. Willis' retirement in 2009. Mr. Willis passed away in June 2010. Jeffrey Lyons calls Theatre World "...a necessity," and Alec Baldwin calls it "...indispensable." Also an assistant for ten years to Mr. Willis for the prestigious Theatre World Awards for Outstanding Broadway and Off-Broadway Debuts, Ben was elected to the Theatre World Awards Board in 2002 and served as executive producer for the annual ceremony through 2006. In 2003 he was presented with a Special Theatre World Award in recognition of his ongoing stewardship of the event.

Ben also served as executive producer for the 2005 LAMBDA Literary Foundation "Lammy" Awards in New York, given for excellence in LGBT publishing. In support of the 2005 LAMBDA Literary Awards, Ben produced a reading of 2005 finalists at the LGBT Community Center in New York City.

Forbidden Acts, the first collected anthology of gay and lesbian plays from the span of the twentieth century, edited and with an introduction by Hodges, was published by Applause Theatre and Cinema Books in 2003 and became a finalist for LAMBDA Literary Award for Drama. Of Forbidden Acts, Publishers Weekly says, "Scholars of gay and lesbian history, as well as theater buffs, will want to add this important volume to their collections." Time Out New York calls it "Strikingly detailed," and the publication has been adopted as a course book by New York University, Cornell University, Salisbury University, the University of Nevada at Las Vegas, and the University of Louisville, among other colleges and universities.

His Outplays: Landmark Gay and Lesbian Plays of the Twentieth Century (Alyson Books, 2008), his second volume of gay and lesbian plays and with a foreword by Harvey Fierstien, makes Hodges the most prolific anthologist of gay and lesbian plays in or out of print.

His The Commercial Theater Institute Guide to Producing Plays and Musicals (coedited with late Commercial Theater Institute director Fred Vogel) was released by Applause Theatre and Cinema Books in January 2007, and with essays and interviews by twenty-eight Broadway producers, publicists, general managers, and attorneys, and containing charts, graphs, timetables, and production contracts as well as a complete production industry glossary, has quickly become a classic its field, with supporting endorsements from New York University's Tisch School of the Arts chairperson Zelda Fichandler, and four time Tony-nominated actress and producer Tovah Feldshuh. The CTI guide has been adopted as a course book by North Carolina School of the Arts. In comparing similar publications, Back Stage reviewed in by saying that "...Ben Hodges's guide, a compilation of transcriptions from sessions of the Commercial Theater Institute (CTI) in New York, is the best of the lot. It is full of interesting observations by leading Broadway professionals."

His The American Theatre Wing Presents The Play That Changed My Life: America's Foremost Playwrights on the Plays That Influenced Them was released by Applause Theatre and Cinema Books in 2009, is already in its fourth printing, and with cover endorsements by Hal Prince, Glenn Close, and Lynn Redgrave.

Ben has been a contributing editor to .dot magazine, Southern California's most widely circulated LGBT magazine, as well as for his alumni magazine, Towers, as well as The Encyclopedia of Broadway and American Culture.

In 2005 Ben founded and served for two years as executive director of The Learning Theatre, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization incorporating theatre into the development and lives of autistic and learning disabled children. The Learning Theatre received grants in both 2005 and 2006 from Manhattan's prestigious McCarton School and Center to develop theatrical programming for their students.

Ben also serves on the New York Innovative Theatre Awards Honorary Awards Committee, selecting outstanding individuals for recognition Off-Off-Broadway, and as vice president of Summer Stage New York, a professional summer theatre program in Fayetteville, New York. He has also served as a panelist for Theater Resources Unlimited and has worked at Stuart Howard Associates as a freelance casting director for the stage, television, and film.

In support of his projects and publications, Ben has appeared on nationwide radio on The Joey Reynolds Show and The Michael Ray Dresser Show, as well as Stage and Screen on KXLU in Los Angeles, and on television on New York 1 and Philly Live in-the only live televised LGBT call-in show in the United States. Reviews and articles on Ben, his projects, or publications, have appeared in The New York Times, The New Yorker, GQ, Elle, Genre, Back Stage, Time Out New York, Playbill, Next, New York Blade, Library Journal, The Advocate, Chicago Free Press, Philadelphia Gay News, Houston Voice, Stage Directions, Between the Lines, The Flint Journal, and Citizen Tribune, as well as the web sites CurtainUp.com and in Peter Filichia's Diary on Theatermania.com. He has made guest appearances in support of his publications at the Good Beans Café in Flint, Michigan, at the Common Language Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, at A Different Light in both Los Angeles and San Francisco, The Open Book in Sacramento, and at Giovanni's Room in Philadelphia, PA, as well as at the DR2 Theatre D-2 Lounge in New York City. Ben has appeared and signed publications at the New York is Book Country as well as Book Expo America conventions in Chicago and in New York.

Ben is originally from Morristown, Tennessee, holds a BFA in Theatre Acting and Directing from Otterbein University in Westerville, Ohio, and is an alumnus of the Commercial Theater Institute. He received his 2012 Juris Doctor from Seton Hall University School of Law in Newark, New Jersey, currently lives in Brooklyn, New York, and is a licensed and practicing attorney in private practice in New York City.

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