Program 30: Every Act of Life
Directed by Jeff Kaufman
“I love the theater. It reinvents itself every night.” ~ Terrence McNally
Whether or not you know his name, there’s a very good chance your life has been touched in some way by Terrence McNally, particularly if you’re part of the LGBTQ community. Or have a love of theater and film.
While other kids in Corpus Christi, Texas were collecting baseball cards and playing football, Terrence McNally was treasuring the Playbills brought home by his parents and producing his own operas in the garage. As he grew older, he was able to escape life with his alcoholic parents, venturing across the country to Columbia University. He would travel the world, serving as a tutor to John Steinbeck’s children. He taught at Julliard and went on to become a prolific playwright. His works on the stage include Master Class, Kiss of the Spider Woman, Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Full Monty, and Mothers and Sons, and launched the careers of luminaries like Nathan Lane, Audra McDonald, F. Murray Abraham, and Doris Roberts, among others.
McNally’s plays pushed boundaries, often with openly, unapologetically gay characters. Yet the plays themselves weren’t typically about being gay. Instead, their central theme tended to be about being accepted.
This is not to suggest that McNally’s life has been without its setbacks and troubles. His first two boyfriends were closeted alcoholics. He had a play flop, and struggled with alcoholism himself, a fight which might have doomed his career without the loving intervention of Angela Lansbury. He lost many friends to AIDS and a lover to cancer, then fought his own battle against lung cancer. Yet he has survived it all and continues to thrive.
Every Act of Life is a fitting celebration of an iconic playwright and activist. In the words of the great Audra McDonald, McNally’s work is “able to get to the core of the human condition.” Truly, as famed gay activist and writer Larry Kramer tells him, McNally has “a record to be proud of.”
— Christopher Roesch
AWARDS & ACCOLADES
- JURY AWARD, BEST DOCUMENTARY – FilmOut San Diego
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Frameline San Francisco Int’l LGBTQ Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Outfest Los Angeles LGBTQ Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Tribeca Film Festival
- OFFICIAL SELECTION – Seattle Int’l Film Festival