In 1950, two Temperamentals, the code word used by homosexuals to quietly define themselves, saw the need to start an organization whose purpose was to unite, inform and empower. Founders Harry Hay, a communist and social radical, and famed Austrian-born avant garde fashion designer Rudi Gernreich, named it the Mattachine Society after a Medieval French secret society of masked men who were the anonymous social critics of their time, because Harry and Rudi, too, believed theirs should be, at first, an "underground" society. This was the era of McCarthyism, when much of American politics and culture was focused on containing the spread of communism. It was also the time of the “Lavender Scare” when federal and state governments investigated and fired thousands of employees who were suspected of being gay or lesbian, claiming that they were “security risks” who were vulnerable to Soviet blackmail.
While this intelligent, witty, and entertaining play by Jon Marans, explores the trials of the society’s founders as they risked their lives and livelihoods to gain equality, it also reveals the relationship between Hay and Gernreich as their passion for each other grew, along with their cause.
After premiering at The Barrow Group Studio in April 2009, The Temperamentals moved off-Broadway to New World Stages from February 18 - May 30, 2010. It received the Drama Desk Award for Best Ensemble Cast. Michael Urie, who originated the role of Rudi Gernreich, received a Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actor.
Following this staged reading will be a short talk-back with the cast and creative team. Admission is donation-based: 50% will be shared between Cape May Stage & East Lynne Theater Company (both nonprofits); 50% donated to the Gay Men’s Health Crisis (another nonprofit) to support its on-going work.
This is the second of two staged readings to celebrate LGBTQ+ PRIDE MONTH IN CAPE MAY. The first is The Normal Heart at Cape May Stage on Monday, June 10 at 8:00 PM. CAPE PRIDE is sponsored by Cape May Stage, East Lynne Theater Company, and GABLES.