The Theater of Terrence McNally

A Critical Study


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About the Book

This first book-length work on Terrence McNally shows how his decades in the theater have refined his thoughts on subjects like growing up gay in mannish, homophobic Texas, Shakespeare’s legacy in contemporary drama, and the life-giving power of forgiveness. McNally believes that the ability to forgive—a challenge to even the most high-minded—confirms our humanity because the wrongs done to us usually don’t deserve to be forgiven.
The author shows how McNally’s impeccable timing, his instinct for a good laugh line, and his preference for physical sensation and character over plot helps him reveal both what’s important to his people and why his people are important. These revelations can shake up audiences while providing a great evening at the theater.

About the Author(s)

Peter Wolfe is a curators’ professor of English at the University of Missouri-St. Louis. The author of more than 20 books, he has also taught in Canada, New Zealand, Taiwan, Russia, Poland and Australia.

Bibliographic Details

Peter Wolfe
Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 272
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2014
pISBN: 978-0-7864-7495-0
eISBN: 978-1-4766-1258-4
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vi

Abbreviations ix

Preface 1

One. Tradition and Tumult 5

Two. Alchemizing the Brew 34

Three. Confusions of the Heart 55

Four. Cauldrons of Deceit 76

Five. Sore, Spent and Sage 92

Six. New York States of Mind 143

Seven. The Madness of Art 173

Conclusion 234

Bibliography 251

Index 257

Book Reviews & Awards

“Wolfe’s fine, thorough examination of McNally is woefully overdue…invaluable…Rrcommended”—Choice; “fills a long-standing gap in the scholarship on contemporary American playwrights. Wolfe’s astute analysis and his passionate and generous assessment of McNally’s oeuvre provide a comprehensive platform from which a critical body of work on McNally can be built. The questions and issues that Wolfe raise are ultimately compelling and assist in demonstrating the significance of McNally’s works”—Comparative Drama.