by Tony Frankel on November 4, 2022

in Extras,Theater-International,Theater-New York

Continuing the legendary playwright’s singular legacy of mentorship and activism, the Terrence McNally Foundation has been launched. The nonprofit organization is committed to supporting bold new voices in the American theatre by providing financial and institutional support to early-career playwrights. In addition, the Foundation is committed to supporting LGBTQ causes, as McNally did throughout his life.

“Art and activism were central to Terrence’s life. At a time when living as an out gay man came at great professional cost, Terrence wrote and loved fearlessly. Terrence was a truth teller who never wrote in code. His groundbreaking plays and musicals fundamentally shaped the way a generation of Americans talked about LGBTQ+ issues. The Foundation looks forward to supporting playwrights and activists who are risk takers,” notes Tom Kirdahy, Terrence McNally’s husband.

As part of its inaugural efforts, the Foundation is thrilled to announce the launch of the fully funded Terrence McNally New Works Incubator at Rattlestick Theater. McNally was passionate about supporting early career playwrights and often could be found attending shows at small off-Broadway venues across New York City. As a Village resident, McNally had a particular love for Rattlestick and its mission of supporting playwrights. The Terrence McNally New Works Incubator is designed to support three emerging playwrights by awarding each of them critical financial support, personalized mentorship, and a one-week developmental workshop culminating in a presentation of their work. The submission process is free and open to the public and the selection panel for the inaugural cohort of McNally fellows includes Sheila CallaghanStephen Karam, MJ KaufmanDonja R. Love, Taylor Mac, Lynn Nottage, Paula Vogel, and Chey Yew.

In addition to support for playwrights, the Foundation is committed to the furtherance of queer rights. McNally was a gay pioneer whose unapologetic activism was central to his life and career. He put gay characters on a Broadway stage well before Stonewall (And Things That Go Bump in the Night); chronicled the AIDS pandemic with plays like Lips Together, Teeth Apart and Love! Valour! Compassion!; endured death threats and a Fatwa with his play Corpus Christi; and wrote the first Broadway play to include a gay married couple (Mothers and Sons).

Terrence McNally’s musical A Man of No Importance, written with Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, recently opened at Classic Stage Company to rave reviews and is a New York Times “Critic’s Pick.” Directed by John Doyle and starring Jim Parsons, the new production has been extended through December 18, 2022.

McNally’s legacy lives on in his plays, musicals, and operas that continue to be performed all over the world, as well as in his papers, which are kept and open to the public at the internationally renowned humanities research center, the Harry Ransom Center in the University of Texas at Austin.

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