Nov. 11,1983 / Montrose voice 19
that Neville Marriner, as a conductor, is
master of the first two, approaches the
third with the greatest reluctance and the
fourth by unconscious accident. By modern standards of musical composition and
performance, this sort of thing is quite
Admittedly, a concert with virtually all
the notes played correctly is a rare thing.
But is it music? Can these bones live?
Starting Next Week
in the Voice
(up to IS words)
See form page 23
Houston's New Gay Theater
with an Male 'Private Lives'
By Robert Hyde
Is Houston's gay community ready for a
theatrical repertory company that does
nothing but gay plays?
Hopefully so, according to two men in
the community who are launching their
first production next week with an all-
male version of Noel Coward's Private
Lives, that sophisticated comedy that reunited Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton on Broadway earlier this year.
And if this play is successful (and opening night is already promised to be standing room only), the community will be
reacquainted with other favorites, such as
P.S., You're Cat Is Dead, and Gertrude
Stein, Gertrude Stein, as well as introduced to lesser-known but new positive
works by American gay playwrights.
"I have b hugh social consciousness
about gays," said John David Etheredge,
the director of Private Lives and co-
founder of the newly incorporated Diversity Theater, the non-profit theatrical
group which will bring the plays to Houston. "Some people go into politics or
become very active in other areas of the
community, and this is my way of doing
something for us."
Etheredge has been involved in theater
for most of his life. After graduating from
Northwestern University in Natchitoches, he studied as an apprentice at the
Alley Theater, supervised a local repertory
company in New Orleans for over two
years, and has directed over 40 plays in his
life, including the recent Skirmishes at
The idea of forming a local gay repertory company occured to Etheredge when
he saw the community reaction to last
year's production at Stages of Bent when
several performances had to be added due
to sold-out performances. He was moved
when he saw an individual in tears during
the play which analyzes the love between
gays in a Nazi concentration camp.
"I then realized that most members of
the community had never seen plays
about themselves," Etheredge said.
"Gay people spend most of their lives
without role models. Most of their first 18
years are invalid," he said. "Maybe someday a psychiatrist will come along and tell
a six-year-old kid that it's all right to be
gay, but that's a long way off."
And it'B with this spirit of forming a
comfortable identity that the new gay
theater group is being launched. Etheredge feels deeply about his conscious-
raising effort for the community, and
believes that gay people need to see plays
about themselves. And to date, that iden-'
tity has been stereotyped, for the most
part, by motion pictures and television;
only this year have two major gay plays
(Torch Song Triology, La Cage aux Folles)
made inroads on Broadway and been
highly patronized by nongay audiences.
(Bent was thought by many to be too
depressing; Boys in the Band, too negative.)
"There's got to be an audience in Houston for very positive, sensitive gay plays,"
says co-founder Joe Watts, a long-time acting member of Houston's theatrical com-
munity whose most recent performance
was in Boys in the Band, which may be
revived by Pace at the Tower.
Watts made reference to Montrose
Activity Theater's production of Women
Behind Bars, made popular by drag queen
Divine, that brought Houston's gay
audiences to the theater, but he feels that
plays should not have to be sensational to
attract the attention of the community.
Even the popular Bent, Watts said, had its
sensational element with its nude scenes
and its on-stage climax between two men.
"But it's time now to do new, positive
gay scripts," Watts said. "We shouldn't
have to do something sensational or outrageous to get people into the theater."
Etheredge goes on to point out that this
new repertory company will invite many
gay actors to perform, an opportunity that
has eluded them simply because they have
been gay or effeminate.
"And some directors have had to bypass
them because of this," Etheredge said.
"It's a reality. It's not totally pleasant. I'm
sure.it's happened to me. And there are so
many talented gay actors."
If Private Lives is a success, then, Ethe-
redge's goals will come closer to reality in
providing this opportunity to local gay
But why Private Lives, rather than
some more recognized gay play?
"I thought of going with something less
established," Etheredge said, "but I didn't
know if anyone would have heard of it.
Really, this play is just an easy first step
Watts agreed with Etheredge and feels
that by making thiB an all male production, a lot of people will come to the play
just to see if it will work.
"I think it's innovative to approach a
classic that's been revived on Broadway,"
Watts said. "We've changed some of the
pronouns," he added, regarding the all
male cast, "but so far, only our drag queen
(who's playing one of the roles and uses
camp constantly offstage) is confused by
The play's comedy revolves around two
married couples (in this case, gay) honeymooning on the French Riviera when two
members of the newly weds who were once
lovers spy each other from adjoining balconies and realize that they are still in
love. They slip away to a private residence
where there new mates descend on them in
an emotional and hilarious tug of war.
One of Houston's oldest gay bars, the
Pink Elephant at 1218 Leeland, is donating its new stage area. The Other Side, to
this new theater company for its inaugural performances which will be held on
Tuesday evenings, beginning November
22, at 8 p.m. Tickets will be $3 to make the
evening more accessible to the community- ■ _, .
"A lot of people in the community don t
support things as much as they should,
Watts said, hoping that this will be the
"And this is something we both want,
Etheredge added. "Hopefully all of us can
work together to establish.it."
... a Llqkik£.aitza qijt ihotihz
C2niLs.tm.ai. aaids., urtah, q<-fts., L7i and
i.W£.at inixti, mote, eilttzu and bs.ai±
Gome. Jbhats. trie. zpv[aalc
iDtitn y\i\onJ.a<j tn\u <£atuxJatf tJam-'/pJt
Qfxen tiff Ohm on cMonAcy & Odu^Act,
We have a better way. A better way of putting you in touch with
the people that you want to meet. People whose interests are
compatible with yours, sensitive people. Attractive people. People who may be interested in lasting relationships.
People who understand that you can't depend on the bars to
provide you with quality companionship.
We have a better way—and we'd like to show it to you. Private
selection offers a unique approach to video dating, combining
state of the art technology with the dynamics of interpersonal
relationships. Call today for your free consultation.
SI PRIVATE U
4200 Westheimer—Suite 250