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Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Pride Films and Plays Presents 'The Great Plays of Terrence McNally' and the 'Great Gay Play Contest'

Chicago's Pride Films and Plays is very busy these days. The organization, which is dedicated to comprehending the history of great gay writing and fostering its excellence in new works for the stage and screen, is presenting a reading series of playwright Terrence McNally's work over the next few months as well as sponsoring a new gay play contest.

Here is a schedule of The Great Plays of Terrence McNally that will receive readings:

Some Men (2006)
This Chicago premiere, directed by Andrew Souders, will be presented on Sunday, August 29, at 7 pm at Stage 773 (1225 W. Belmont).

Often funny and touching, the play features a series of interlocking vignettes set between 1922 and 2007 that touch on the important events and themes in gay culture. With scenes about long-term relationships and one-night stands, the Army and AIDS, bathhouses and piano bars, and marriages of all kinds, McNally explores gay life and love against a background of some of the events that shaped the last century.

Lips Together, Teeth Apart (1991)
Directed by Jonathan Verge, this play will be presented on Sunday, September 5, at 6 pm at Mary's Attic (5400 N. Clark Street).

Two straight couples are spending the Fourth of July weekend in a house on Fire Island inherited from a gay brother who has died of AIDS. The complex relationships among the quartet and their attitude towards the gay neighbors partying on either side of them becomes hilariously and painfully clear.

The Lisbon Traviata (1989)
Directed by Steve Scott, this play will be presented on Sunday, September 12, at 6 pm at Mary's Attic (5400 N. Clark Street).

Mendy, a ferociously dedicated opera buff, begs and cajoles his friend Stephen to let him borrow his copy of the pirated Maria Callas recording of La Traviata. Their hilarious banter in Act 1 segues into a second act in which cold reality reaches a climax of operatic proportion.

Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994)
Directed by Michael Lasswell, this play will be presented on September 19, at 6 pm at Mary’s Attic (5400 N. Clark Street).

At a lakeside vacation house, eight gay friends spend the three major holiday weekends of one summer together – Memorial Day, the Fourth of July and Labor Day. Infidelity, flirtations, skinny-dipping, and monumental questions about life and death mix with a wacky dress rehearsal for Swan Lake performed in drag.

Corpus Christi (1998)
Directed by Patrick Rybarczyk, this play will be presented on Sunday, September 26, at 6 pm at Mary’s Attic (5400 N. Clark Street).

The most controversial play of the 1998 theatrical season begins with the line, "We are going to tell you an old and familiar story." But from that point on, nothing feels quite familiar again as McNally tells the tale of Joshua, a gay man coming of age in Corpus Christi, Texas, that parallels the story of Jesus' birth, disciples, death and resurrection.

The Ritz (1975)
Directed by John Nasca, this play will be presented on Sunday, October 24, at 7 pm at Stage 773 (1225 W. Belmont).

Hopefully most gay men are already familiar with the 1976 film version starring the fabulous Rita Moreno as Googie Gomez, who entertains the clientele at the Ritz, a gay bathhouse in Manhattan. When heterosexual businessman Gaetano Proclo takes refuge there from his mobster brother-in-law, he meets many interesting characters, including a rabid chubby chaser, go-go boys, a squeaky-voiced detective and, of course, Ms. Gomez. And for this reading, the one and only Alexandra Billings will be returning to Chicago to play Googie (the above photos are both from The Ritz - the hot guy is Justin Clynes from the 2007 Broadway revival, and Ms. Moreno and Treat Williams were in the movie).

Tickets for all performances are $10, with $5 tickets for students and film and theater industry members. Tickets may be purchased by phone at 1-800-838-3006 or online at

Pride Films and Plays is also sponsoring the Great Gay Play Contest, which is looking for fresh takes on LGBT characters, history or themes important to the community and relevant to the world. Entries will be accepted between September 1 and October 31, with the work of five finalists being read as staged readings at Chicago's Center on Halsted on or about February 21, 2011. Each of the five finalists will also receive $400. This contest is open to all persons 18 years or older, and the entry fee is $30 if your screenplay is received by September 30 or $45 by the final deadline of October 31. To read all the contest rules, click here.

And, finally, if you're in Chicago this Sunday, August 22, you can join Pride Films and Plays for their Flicks and Scripts preview party, which will begin at 6 pm at Halsted's Bar and Grill (3441 N. Halsted) with appetizers, a cash bar and the announcement of their 15 semi-finalists in the Great Gay Screenplay Contest. The evening will also include live performances of classic screenplays, including Gods and Monsters, A Single Man and Kiss of the Spider Woman, as well as a preview of the August 29th reading of Terrence McNally's Some Men and three new short films from Chicago's gay film festival, Reeling 2010. Tickets for the evening are $25 (or $10 for Industry/Student Tickets), and they can be purchased at

For further information on Pride Films and Plays, go to

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