Richard Barr was born on 6 September 1917 in Washington, D.C. under the name Richard Baer to parents David Alphonse Baer and Ruth Nanette Israel. In 1938, he graduated from Princeton University, where he had acted in various plays. From 1941 through 1945, Barr served as a Second Lieutenant in the United States Air Force in World War II. He died of AIDS-related liver failure at Mount Sinai Hospital on 9 January 1989.
Richard Barr began his theatrical career as an actor in the company of Orson Welles at the Mercury Theatre. His first professional appearance came there in a production of Danton's Death in 1938. Later that year, he took part in the infamous radio broadcast of The War of the Worlds. Other than a brief stint of variety theatre at the Provincetown Playhouse in 1940, Barr remained with the company until he left for the war in 1941. After the war, Barr became an accomplished director and producer. In 1961, he won his first drama desk award. His 1962 original Broadway production of Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? earned him two Tony Awards: Best Play and Best Producer (dramatic). His 1979 original Broadway production of Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street earned him the Drama Desk Award for Outstanding Musical and the Tony Award for Best Musical. In 1967 Barr was elected president of what was then known as the League of American Theatres and Producers, an office he would hold until his death in 1989. As president he shifted Broadway's curtain times from 8:30 PM to 7:30 PM in an effort to bring in more businessmen during the weeknights. The experiment was considered a success, though curtain times were later shifted to 8:00 PM, where they have remained to this day.
In 1938, Otis Bigelow, later a playwright and theatrical agent, while performing summer stock in Rye Beach, New Hampshire, met Gordon Merrick, an actor who had just graduated from Princeton. Bigelow and Merrick used to kiss, but nothing more. Although they shared an apartment when they reached New York, Bigelow was still planning to marry a woman. And quite quickly Gordon decided that he was "very into not being gay," Bigelow recalled.Further Readings:
Three decades later, Merrick wrote The Lord Won't Mind, one of the first gay novels to become a best-seller in the seventies, and he modeled one of its beautiful young men after Bigelow. The other man sharing their apartment was Richard Barr, another Princeton graduate who went to work for the Mercury Theatre that fall and partecipated in Orson Welles's menacing broadcast of The War of the Worlds. Later, Barr became one of the Broadway's most illustrious impresarios. He was Edward Albee's confidant and produced many of Albee's most important plays, including The Zoo Story, Tiny Alice and Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? He coproduced Mart Crowley's The Boys in the Band in 1968, and, eleven years later, Stephen Sondheim's Sweeney Todd. For twenty-one years, he was president of the League of American Theatres and Producers. --The Gay Metropolis: The Landmark History of Gay Life in America by Charles Kaiser
Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America by Christopher Bram
Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Twelve (February 2, 2012)
Amazon: Eminent Outlaws: The Gay Writers Who Changed America
In the years following World War II, a small group of gay writers established themselves as literary power players, fueling cultural changes that would resonate for decades to come, and transforming the American literary landscape forever.
In EMINENT OUTLAWS, novelist Christopher Bram brilliantly chronicles the rise of gay consciousness in American writing. Beginning with a first wave of major gay literary figures-Tennessee Williams, Gore Vidal, Truman Capote, Allen Ginsberg, and James Baldwin-he shows how (despite criticism and occasional setbacks) these pioneers set the stage for new generations of gay writers to build on what they had begun: Armistead Maupin, Edmund White, Tony Kushner, and Edward Albee among them.
Weaving together the crosscurrents, feuds, and subversive energies that provoked these writers to greatness, EMINENT OUTLAWS is a rich and essential work. With keen insights, it takes readers through fifty years of momentous change: from a time when being a homosexual was a crime in forty-nine states and into an age of same-sex marriage and the end of Don't Ask, Don't Tell.
Caffe Cino: The Birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway (Theater in the Americas) by Wendell C. Stone
Paperback: 264 pages
Publisher: Southern Illinois University Press; 1st edition (June 8, 2005)
Amazon: Caffe Cino: The Birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway (Theater in the Americas)
“It’s Magic Time!” That colorful promise began each performance at the Caffe Cino, the storied Greenwich Village coffeehouse that fostered the gay and alternative theatre movements of the 1960s and launched the careers of such stage mainstays as Sam Shepard, Lanford Wilson, Robert Heide, Harry Koutoukas, Robert Patrick, Robert Dahdah, Helen Hanft, Al Pacino, and Bernadette Peters. As Off-Off-Broadway productions enjoy a deserved resurgence, theatre historian and actor Wendell C. Stone reopens the Cino’s doors in this vibrant look at the earliest days of OOB.
Rife with insider interviews and rich with evocative photographs, Caffe Cino: The Birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway provides the first detailed account of Joe Cino’s iconic café theatre and its influence on American theatre. A hub of artistic innovation and haven for bohemians, beats, hippies, and gays, the café gave a much-sought outlet to voices otherwise shunned by mainstream entertainment. The Cino’s square stage measured only eight feet, but the dynamic ideas that emerged there spawned the numerous alternative theatre spaces that owe their origins to the risky enterprise on Cornelia Street.