DO THIS: Mauckingbird to Stage The Children’s Hour and The Boys in the Band

Mauckingbird Theatre Company, which has made a name for itself producing works with gay twists, is going both ways next month with staged readings of lesbian and gay classics The Children’s Hour and The Boys in the Band.

First up, The Children’s Hour is a 1931 stage play by the great Lillian Helman. (You may be more familiar with it from the 1961 film of the same name starring Audrey Hepburn and Shirley MacLaine.) It takes place in an all-girls boarding school run by educators Karen Wright and Martha Dobie. Things go awry when an angry student tells her grandmother that the two women are lovers. What ensues is, as you’d expect from that time period, public backlash, but even more interestingly an intense self-examination by the women, who wonder if the accusation is actually true. The Mauckingbird production stars Jessica Bedford and Kim Carson as Karen and Martha, and Barrymore Award-winner Cheryl Williams, among others. The show takes place Saturday, August 30th, at 7:30 p.m. and Sunday, August 31st, at 2 p.m. You can purchase tickets here.

The following weekend Philly actors John Jarboe, Barrymore Award-winners Jeff Coon and Forrest McClendon will join a cast of eight to perform Mart Crowley’s legendary The Boys in the Band. The play, which concerns a group of gay men (and one straight guy) of all types who gather together one evening for a dinner party. It was one of the first works to shine an unabashed light on gay life on the stage, and later on screen when it was adapted into a film. Some say it even helped kickstart the gay rights movement.

“After gays saw The Boys in the Band, they no longer would settle for thinking of themselves as pathetic and wouldn’t be perceived as such any longer,” writes theater critic Peter Filichia. “Now that [characters] had brought their feelings out of the closet, this new generation would dare to be different. And, just as some whites’ view of blacks changed after seeing A Raisin in the Sun, so too did the outlook of many straights after they caught The Boys in the Band. Some whom I personally know felt terrible and—I saw this happen!—actually changed the way they treated gays.”

The Boys in the Band takes place Saturday, September 6th at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday September 7th and 2 p.m. Tickets here.