elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Craig Lucas & Tim Melester

Craig Lucas (born on April 30, 1951, in Atlanta, Georgia) is an American playwright, screenwriter, theatre director, musical actor, and film director. His partner Tim Melester succumbed to complications from AIDS in 1995. The pain of illness and loss and the role of drugs in getting well and killing pain all helped him write God's Heart. After that he was for 11 years partnered with set designer John McDermott. He is now single

Born on April 30, 1951, he was found abandoned in a car in Atlanta. Lucas was adopted when he was eight months old by a conservative Pennsylvania couple. His father was an FBI agent; his mother was a housewife and painter. He graduated in 1969 from Conestoga High School in Berwyn, Pennsylvania. In the 1960s and 1970s, Lucas became interested in the political left and discovered an attraction towards men. He recalls that his coming out made it possible for him to develop as a playwright and as a person.

In 1973, Lucas left Boston University with a Bachelor of Arts in theatre and creative writing. His mentor, Anne Sexton, urged him to try his luck in New York City as a playwright. He worked in many day jobs while performing in Broadway musicals including Shenandoah, On the Twentieth Century, Rex, and Sweeney Todd. Stephen Sondheim would later tell him he was a better writer than an actor.

Craig Lucas, 1989, by Robert Giard.
Craig Lucas (born on April 30, 1951, in Atlanta, Georgia) is an American playwright, screenwriter, theatre director, musical actor, and film director. His partner Tim Melester, a surgeon and an AIDS educator, died to complications from AIDS on January 5, 1995. The pain of illness and loss and the role of drugs in getting well and killing pain all helped him write God's Heart. After that he was for 11 years partnered with set designer John McDermott.

American photographer Robert Giard is renowned for his portraits of American poets and writers; his particular focus was on gay and lesbian writers. Some of his photographs of the American gay and lesbian literary community appear in his groundbreaking book Particular Voices: Portraits of Gay and Lesbian Writers, published by MIT Press in 1997. Giard’s stated mission was to define the literary history and cultural identity of gays and lesbians for the mainstream of American society, which perceived them as disparate, marginal individuals possessing neither. In all, he photographed more than 600 writers. (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/digitallibrary/giard.html
Lucas met Norman René in 1979. Their first collaboration was Marry Me A Little in 1981. The two wrote a script incorporating songs that had been written for but discarded from Stephen Sondheim musicals, and René also directed. They followed this with the plays Missing Persons (1981) and Blue Window (1984); Three Postcards (1987), an original music by Lucas and Craig Carnelia; and another play, Reckless (1983). In 1990 they joined forces for what would prove to be their biggest commercial and critical success, Prelude to a Kiss. They also joined forces for the feature film Longtime Companion (1990), the 1992 film adaptation of Prelude with Alec Baldwin and Meg Ryan, and the 1995 film version of Reckless with Mia Farrow and Mary Louise Parker.

Following his early work on romantic comedies, Lucas began to write more serious works about AIDS, including The Singing Forest and The Dying Gaul, the latter of which was made into a film that Lucas also directed. Lucas also authored the book for the musical The Light in the Piazza, and directed the world premiere at the Intiman Theater in Seattle. The Lincoln Center production, directed by Bartlett Sher, garnered him a Tony Award nomination.

Lucas has also directed classic plays such as Loot. While some critics have divided his work into gay plays (Blue Window, Longtime Companion) and straight plays (Reckless, Three Postcards, Prelude to a Kiss), Lucas has always written about human problems in a universal manner. He directed Birds of America, a film starring Matthew Perry and Hilary Swank, in 2007.

In late 2008, Lucas's play Prayer for My Enemy made its New York premiere at Playwrights Horizons. The production was directed by Lucas's frequent collaborator Bartlett Sher and featured Tony Award winners Victoria Clark and Michele Pawk and Tony Award nominee Jonathan Groff. The play touches on several topics including the Iraq War, with Groff playing a young veteran, as well as homosexuality, alcoholism, and the definition of family. The play ran from November 14 through December 21.

In 2001 Lucas received an OBIE Award for his direction of Harry Kondoleon’s Saved or Destroyed at the Rattlestick Theater. He won the 2003 New York Film Critics Circle Award for Best Screenplay for The Secret Lives of Dentists. His Small Tragedy was awarded an Obie as Best American Play in 2004. Lucas's other awards include the Excellence in Literature Award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters; the PEN/Laura Pels Mid-Career Achievement Award; and Outer Critics Circle, L.A. Drama Critics Circle, Drama-Logue and Lambda Literary Awards.

He has also received a Tony Award nomination (for the book of Light in the Piazza). Fellowships include those from the Guggenheim and Rockefeller Foundations, the National Endowment for the Arts, and the Pew Charitable Trusts. Perhaps most notably, he was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize for Drama for his plays Prelude to a Kiss and The Dying Gaul.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craig_Lucas

Postcard from Grief (1995) by Craig Lucas

"My lover died this year on January 5th. We were together for eleven years. He was forty. His name was Timothy Scott Melester. He was a surgeon and an AIDS educator.

I find my way by sticking to simple declarative sentences: hand-holds over the swampy, rocky terrain of my terror and grief. After the initial crush of letters and flowers, phone calls and devotional meals, I went into a mania of work-writing plays and screenplays, attending rehearsals, traveling, seeing friends, tackling projects. I went through all of Tim's belongings and gave many of them away. I took off my wedding ring. Now, seven months after the fact, the layers of shock are beginning to fall away and I am left with a feeling for which nothing in my life has prepared me: not religion, not politics, not philosophy. I have stopped running, and the waves are breaking over me in no regular pattern, each one bringing new sensations and stripping me further of my illusions: I know nothing about who I am, where I am going, what I believe, what I want. Tim was my anchor: his battle to live was my battle.

My closets and bookshelves are filled with his notes and textbooks from medical school. What happened to all that learning and effort? Where did it go? The four languages he taught himself to speak, and the two dead ones he learned to read-all the facts, the growing up, the struggle and ultimate joy of coming out to his friends and family, all the music he listened to, all the novels he devoured: Where are they now? So much wisdom and beauty and pain-vanished. Friends put me in touch with a medium and she convinced me that his spirit was present. Every word she spoke on his behalf was plausible. She knew countless things she couldn't have known. So perhaps our spirits do go on. Still I can't touch him, I can't kiss him, I can't suck, fuck and hold him. He can't reach up and stop me from picking my nose.

AIDS Quilt

Nothing makes any sense to me. I have stopped reading the New York Times: it's all gossip, fashion, and obscene cruelty I have no power to change. In the months since Tim died, the world is still obsessed with O.J. Simpson. I turn on the TV less than once a week, and I want to vomit.

I talk to Tim. Out loud. I attend my support group, and continue to write, and to see friends. Others who are grieving share their experiences with me-online, in person, even by snail mail. The depth of their despair is the air I breathe. Here are other things I enjoy: Sad music. Sex of almost any kind-cyber, phone, video voyeurism, even real and true in-the-flesh sex. Nature-watching the sunset, walking in a garden, on the beach, playing with my dogs. They understand my grief perfectly, it would seem, and when I cry, they grow still and pensive, put their faces on my knee, and wait for me to come out of it. Which is more than most people can do. A very few friends and colleagues are able to listen when I howl, to be present and hold my hand, or make me laugh. But the most common response to my litany of boundless sorrow is, "So what does your shrink say?" Anyone who says that to me can expect to be deleted from my address book. Grief is not a pathology. It is the body's natural response to devastation. Anyone who can formulate a stiff upper lip is, to me, already dead. I mourn for them. Go away if you can't stand my grief. It's nowhere near over.

My rage is boundless, too. I want Bill Clinton to lose in the next election and I am going to actively campaign against him. I will consider voting for anyone who steps forward and says that Bill Clinton has failed miserably; he is a cowardly fuck who can't even be bothered to file a brief in the Supreme Court opposing Colorado's Amendment Two and should be dragged through the streets of every city and town, like Mussolini, weeping while we pelt him with rotten fruit to remind him of who elected him. That's just the tip of the iceberg. Don't tell me I'm lucky to be alive, to be HIV-negative. Don't tell me that life is beautiful. Don't tell me that I have a lot to offer. To whom? A nation that wants to lower taxes on the rich as it abandons the poor and disenfranchised to further deprivation? A culture that accepts a filthy, reactionary piece of crap like Pulp Fiction and calls it Art?

Here's what I understand: people who tear at their flesh and throw themselves in the grave. People who join monasteries and spend the rest of their days praying for peace. Terrorists. Maybe I'll come out of this and be utterly ashamed to have confessed to the depths of what I am experiencing. Maybe, someday, I will marry another wonderful man and we'll adopt a child and name him Tim. Or maybe I will decide that the countless deaths I have witnessed are too much for me, and that the consolations of sex and music and art and love and community are not enough in the face of this idiot culture, this drug-besotted land of ours, filled with death and indifference. And I will join my loved ones "before my time." Don't ask me what my shrink says.

People who are not grieving say, "Don't get depressed, organize!" Of course they're right. I hope to be back in the ranks of the mentally balanced. But I do not believe I can get there without being here first. So here I am. This is my postcard from Grief. Don't write. Wish I weren't here."

Craig Lucas is is the author of many plays and films including "Blue Window," "Reckless," "Prelude to a Kiss," "God's Heart," "The Dying Gaul," and "Longtime Companion."

Source: http://www.artistswithaids.org/artery/centerpieces/centerpieces_postcard.html

Further Readings:

The Dying Gaul and Other Screenplays by Craig Lucas edited by Steven Drukman
Paperback: 224 pages
Publisher: Alyson Books (February 1, 2008)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1593500505
ISBN-13: 978-1593500504
Amazon: The Dying Gaul and Other Screenplays

Craig Lucas is a premier American dramatist and now a major film director. These are his scripts for The Dying Gaul, The Secret Lives of Dentists, and Longtime Companion—which The New York Times called “the truest fictional screen chronicle of the advent of AIDS.”

Commentary by Lucas and luminaries such as Mary-Louise Parker and Alan Rudolph provide further insight into Lucas’s work.

Craig Lucas wrote both plays and screenplays for Reckless and Prelude to a Kiss. He has won the award for excellence in literature from the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the PEN/Laura Pels mid-career achievement award, and the Sundance Audience Award.

More LGBT Couples at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Real Life Romance

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Tags: activist: tim melester, author: craig lucas, days of love tb

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