Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Terrence McNally

Terrence McNally, who has died of the effects of COVID-19, was a friend of Scott Burton's at Columbia. I had a fling with Scott around 1960, when he may have still been a senior but I think was already writing for Art News. Terrence was living with Edward Albee in a duplex in the West Village, with Edward's ex-lover William Flanagan on the lower level. Scott took me over to see Terrence, Edward not at home, and the three of us rolled around together on the big bed that filled the bedroom from wall to wall. I remember looking at Edward's writing desk, which faced a blank wall so nothing would distract him from his imaginings. After a few years Terrence broke up with Edward, who didn't want to be identified as gay and wouldn't publicly acknowledge him. Terrence went on to write a series of entertaining plays that helped make gay love relations imaginable and eventually acceptable to a general audience. It must have been the Albee connection that brought so much attention to his first play, "And Things That Go Bump in the Night," when it was done at the new Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis. I was flown out to see it along with other influencers and remember the Life photographer snapping pictures of us in the lobby more than I remember the play, which subsequently flopped on Broadway. But Terrence was just getting started and gave birth to many more in a long and beautiful life.

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