Torch Song Trilogy
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Torch Song Trilogy is a collection of three plays by Harvey Fierstein rendered in three acts: International Stud, Fugue in a Nursery, and Widows and Children First! The story centers on Arnold Beckoff, a torch song-singing Jewish drag queen living in New York City in the late 1970 and 1980s. The four hour-plus play begins with a soliloquy in which he explains his cynical disillusionment with love.

The first act derives its name (International Stud) from an actual Gay bar of the same name at 117 Perry Street in Greenwich Village in the 1960s and 1970s. The bar had a backroom where men engaged in anonymous sex. The backroom plays a central role in the act.

The award-winning and popular work broke new ground in the theatre: "At the height of the post-Stonewall clone era, Harvey challenged both gay and straight audiences to champion an effeminate gay man's longings for love and family."

Synopsis

Each act focuses on a different phase in Arnold's life. In the first, Arnold meets Ed, who is uncomfortable with his bisexuality. In the second, one year later, Arnold meets Alan, and the two settle down into a blissful existence that includes plans to adopt a child, until tragedy strikes. In the third, several years later, Arnold is a single father raising gay teenager David. Arnold is forced to deal with his mother's intolerance and disrespect when she visits from Florida.

Part 1: THE INTERNATIONAL STUD

  • January. Arnold backstage at the nightclub
  • February. Ed in the "International Stud" bar.
  • June. Ed and Arnold in their respective apartments.
  • September. Arnold in the "International Stud" bar.
  • November. Ed and Arnold backstage.

Part 2: FUGUE IN A NURSERY

  • Time: One year later.
  • Place: Various rooms of Ed's farmhouse and Arnold's apartment.

Part 3: WIDOWS AND CHILDREN FIRST!

  • Time: Five years later.
  • 1. Arnold's apartment, 7 a.m. on a Thursday in June.
  • 2. Same, 5 p.m. that day.
  • 3. A bench in the park below, immediately following.
  • 4. The apartment, 6 a.m. the next morning.

Characters

Name Age Gender # of lines
Arnold Beckoff M
Ed M
Alan mid to late 20's M
David teenager M
Mrs. Beckoff 50's - 60's F
Laurel F
Lady Blues F or M

Production History

Opening Venue Company
Oct 1981 Richard Allen Center The Glines
Jan 15, 1982 Actor's Playhouse The Glines
Jun 10, 1982 Little Theatre
Oct 1, 1985 Albery Theatre
Jan 2009 Sargent Theatre Black Hanna Productions
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