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Awkward Stages: Plays about Growing Up Gay By John Clum and Sean Metzger ...

Chapter :  Introduction
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Awkward Stages:


John Clum and Sean Metzger

In this volume, we offer five North American plays that probe gay male adolescence. Produced during the last decade, these new works lend voice to an up and coming generation of writers for the stage. The theatrical works in this collection center on the dangers and delights of sexuality for teenage boys in the new millennium. Each play is preceded by a critical introduction and production history.

In this introduction to the collection as a whole, we briefly offer different ways to contextualize this group of plays. First, we provide a history of stage and film representations of gay male adolescents. We then move to public discourses and efforts to address anti-gay violence and gay teen suicide—issues that were brought into particular focus by the murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998 and the suicide of Tyler Clementi in 2010. These two deaths and the larger social phenomena to which they are connected provide different historical contexts against and through which the plays in this volume might be read and performed. From these nodes of history, we turn to some of the scholarship that investigates the category of gay children. Indeed the recent emergence of that category is marked in the very title of the book, The New Gay Teenager, which asks its readers to think about sexuality through a model of development. Against this linear structure, another book called, appropriately, The Queer Child,