There's a temptation to think of the 1950s as a simpler, more innocent time, when housing was cheap, jobs were plentiful, cars were muscular, and everyone wore really great clothes. But that's Happy Days. In reality, it was a time of quiet desperation. The specter of nuclear annihilation was new. Civil rights for all was a pipe dream. Gender equality was a punch line. The anti-communist fear pushed by Sen. Joseph McCarthy and others pitted friends, neighbors, and co-workers against each other. Imagine being gay and a communist during that time. Harry Hay was one such man. How did he deal with this situation? For one, he fell in love with Rudi Gernreich, a refugee from Vienna who was a performer and fashion designer. Together they formed the Mattachine Society, the nation's first gay-rights organization. In The Temperamentals, whose title is taken from a 1950s code word for gay man, we learn the story of Hay and Gernreich. Music and theatrical scenes are mixed to depict the often-chaotic lives of these social innovators, who were among the first to stand up to a homophobic government and a judicial system that encouraged them to remain forever in the closet. After select performances the theater hosts Onstage Insights, a discussion of themes presented in the show.
Nov. 4-6; Nov. 9-11; Nov. 16-20; Nov. 25-27; Wednesdays-Sundays. Starts: Nov. 4. Continues through Dec. 18, 2011