elisa_rolle (elisa_rolle) wrote,

Doric Wilson (February 24, 1939 – May 7, 2011)

Doric Wilson (February 24, 1939 – May 7, 2011) was an American playwright, director, producer, critic and gay rights activist.

He was born Alan Doric Wilson in Los Angeles, California, where his family was temporarily located. Originally from the Pacific Northwest, he was raised on his grandfather's ranch at Plymouth, Washington on the Columbia River. He wrote his first play at Kennewick High School, but was accused of plagiarism when a teacher informed him that no student of hers would ever be able to write such a play.

Wilson received his early theater training under Lorraine Larson, apprenticed with Dorothy Seeburger and the Richland Players, and studied briefly at the Drama Department of the University of Washington until he was forced to leave after he initiated a one person protest against anti-gay sniper attacks at a nearby park.

Wilson moved to NYC in 1959 where he had a brief acting career playing such roles as Valère to the Mariane of Dawn Wells (later Mary Ann on Gilligan's Island) in Molière's Tartuffe and Older Patrick to Nancy Wilder's Auntie Mame in various stock productions. In 1961, he became one of the first resident playwrights at NYC's legendary Caffe Cino, his comedy, And He Made a Her, opened there with Jane Lowry and Larry Neil Clayton leading the cast and Paxton Whitehead directing.

The success of his four plays at Caffe Cino helped, in the words of playwright Robert Patrick, "establish the Cino as a venue for new plays, and materially contributed to the then-emerging concept of Off-Off-Broadway." His Now She Dances!, a fantasia on the trial of Oscar Wilde, was the first Off-Off-Broadway play to deal positively with gay people (1961).

Under the mentorship of producer Richard Barr, Wilson became a pioneer of the alternative theatre movement, dedicating his career to writing, directing, producing and/or designing hundreds productions. He was one of the first playwrights invited to join the Barr/Wilder/Albee Playwright's Unit and later became a founding member of Circle Repertory Company.

A veteran of the anti-war and civil rights demonstrations of the early 1960s-mid 1970s, Wilson was a participant in the Stonewall Riots (1969) and became active in the early days of the New York Gay Liberation movement as a member of GAA (Gay Activist Alliance). He supported his theatrical endeavors by becoming a "star" bartender and manager of the post-Stonewall gay bar scene, opening such landmark institutions as The Spike, TY's and Brothers & Sisters Cabaret. In 2004, Wilson was named a Grand Marshal of the 35th Anniversary Pride Day Parade in New York City. He was featured in the documentary Stonewall Uprising (2010) by Kate Davis and David Heilbroner.

In 1974, Wilson (with Billy Blackwell, Peter del Valle and John McSpadden) formed TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence), the first professional theatre company to deal openly and honestly with the gay experience. The company featured new plays and revivals by such writers as Brendan Behan, Noël Coward, Christopher Hampton, Charles Jurrist, Joe Orton, Terrence McNally, Robert Patrick, Sandra Scoppettone, Martin Sherman and Lanford Wilson. In June, 2001, Wilson, and directors Mark Finley and Barry Childs resurrected the company as TOSOS II. The original TOSOS and its production of Doric Wilson's play The West Street Gang are featured in "Perform", the new permanent exhibit on theatre at The Museum of New York City.

Over the years Wilson reviewed theater for Other Stages, The Villager in NYC and various publications in Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland, Oregon. Selected reviews are posted on the Purple Circuit.

United Stages has published Now She Dances!; Street Theater; and And He Made a Her (which includes a CD of the original 1961 Caffe Cino performance). Earlier versions of Street Theater and A Perfect Relationship are published by TNT Press; Street Theater is also included in the Don Shewey edited anthology Out Front (Grove Press).

In March Mr. Wilson’s 50-year career as a playwright was celebrated at the Laurie Beechman Theater in Manhattan. The playwright Edward Albee was a speaker.
“His theater is tough, funny and right on target,” Mr. Albee said. “No pussyfooting for Doric. He doesn’t write gay theater; he writes queer theater.

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

Doric Wilson, 1991, by Robert Giard (http://beinecke.library.yale.edu/dl_crosscollex/brbldl_getrec.asp?fld=img&id=1124091)
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)

Further Readings:

Doric Wilson's Street Theater: The Twenty-Seventh of June, 1969 in Two Acts (The JH Press gay play script series) by Doric Wilson
Paperback: 151 pages
Publisher: TNT Classics Inc (December 1983)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0935672079
ISBN-13: 978-0935672077
Amazon: Doric Wilson's Street Theater: The Twenty-Seventh of June, 1969 in Two Acts

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)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0809326450
ISBN-13: 978-0809326457
Amazon: Caffe Cino: The Birthplace of Off-Off-Broadway

“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.

Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution by David Carter
Paperback: 352 pages
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (May 19, 2005)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312342691
ISBN-13: 978-0312342692
Amazon: Stonewall: The Riots That Sparked the Gay Revolution

"Riveting...Not only the definitive examination of the riots but an absorbing history of pre-Stonewall America, and how the oppression and pent-up rage of those years finally ignited on a hot New York night." - Boston Globe

In 1969, a series of riots over police action against The Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City's Greenwich Village, changed the longtime landscape of the homosexual in society literally overnight. Since then the event itself has become the stuff of legend, with relatively little hard information available on the riots themselves. Now, based on hundreds of interviews, an exhaustive search of public and previously sealed files, and over a decade of intensive research into the history and the topic, Stonewall brings this singular event to vivid life in this, the definitive story of one of history's most singular events.

Still Acting Gay: Male Homosexuality in Modern Drama by John M. Clum
Paperback: 336 pages
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan; Revised edition (June 17, 2000)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0312223846
ISBN-13: 978-0312223847
Amazon: Still Acting Gay: Male Homosexuality in Modern Drama

Still Acting Gay is a revision and expansion of Clum's celebrated book, Acting Gay. The book focuses on the relationship between American and British dramas written by and about gay men and the changing gay culture those plays reflect, from the carefully enforced closet to liberation politics to AIDS to the qualified security of the present. Still Acting Gay chronicles the transition of the gay man as subject for sensational melodrama to creator of many of the most powerful and celebrated plays of the late 20th century.

More Particular Voices at my website: http://www.elisarolle.com/, My Ramblings/Particular Voices

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Tags: author: doric wilson, particular voices

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