Queer Places:
The Actors Studio, 432 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036
Mills College, 5000 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA 94613

Image result for Martin ShermanMartin Gerald Sherman (born December 22, 1938) is an American dramatist and screenwriter best known for his 20 stage plays which have been produced in over 60 countries. He rose to fame in 1979 with the production of his play Bent, which explores the persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust. Bent was a Tony nominee for Best Play in 1980 and won the Dramatists Guild's Hull-Warriner Award. It was adapted by Sherman for a major motion picture in 1997 and later by independent sources as a ballet in Brazil. Sherman is an openly gay Jew,[1][2] and many of his works dramatize "outsiders," dealing with the discrimination and marginalization of minorities whether "gay, female, foreign, disabled, different in religion, class or color."[3] He has lived and worked in London since 1980.[4]

Sherman was an only child, born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, to Russian Jewish immigrants,[5] Julia (née Shapiro) and Joseph T. Sherman, an attorney. Growing up in Camden, New Jersey, he was first introduced to the theater at age six, when he saw a pre-Broadway version of Guys and Dolls (1950). Sherman's parents encouraged his passion. In an interview with London Times writer Sheridan Morley in 1983, Sherman recalled, "At 12 I joined the Mae Desmond Children's Players and went all around Pennsylvania being a tall dwarf in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs."[6] As a young teen, Sherman despised school, but consoled himself by often taking the bus into Philadelphia to see plays. "I was the only kid in junior high school to have seen Camino Real," he told interviewer Matt Wolf.[7]

The Actors Studio, 432 W 44th St, New York, NY 10036

In 1956 Sherman enrolled at Boston University College of Fine Arts, where he earned a BFA in dramatic arts. Upon graduating in 1960, he moved to New York City, where he studied at the Actor's Studio under the legendary director Harold Clurman.[3] Sherman credits this experience with shaping his technique as a playwright, explaining "all my plays are written for actors"[6] After spending several years in New York, Sherman was appointed playwright in residence at Mills College in Oakland, California, where his rock musical, A Solitary Thing, premiered in 1963.[3]

Sherman returned to New York City in the mid-1960s where he wrote "Fat Tuesday (1966), Next Year in Jerusalem (1968), and The Night Before Paris (1969). Things Went Badly in Westphalia,which takes its name from a line in Candide by Voltaire— was next, and became Sherman's first published play when the dramatic rock musical was included in The Best Short Plays of 1970.[8] In the 1970s, Sherman traveled to London where he worked with the founding members of the infamous Gay Sweatshop.[7][9]

After more than a decade of writing plays, Sherman found widespread fame in 1979 with his first blockbuster hit, Bent. First produced in London's West End starring Ian McKellen, the play tells the story of Max, a gay man in Berlin during the Weimar Republic. After Max and his boyfriend are forced to flee the city following the Night of the Long Knives, the two live in hiding for two years before being captured by the gestapo and sent to a concentration camp.[10] The play was considered extremely controversial. Despite the uproar, Bent transferred to Broadway, where it starred Richard Gere and became an instant hit and was nominated for a Tony Award. Following the success of this production, Sherman moved to London.[11]

Despite his status as an expatriate, Sherman continued to write successfully for both the British and the American stage. He had great success with his re-write of the book for the musical The Boy from Oz, based on Peter Allen's life and career, earning him a second Tony nomination. He has had a number of plays on the West End, including "Messiah" (1982) with Maureen Lipman, "A Madhouse In Goa" (1989) with Vanessa Redgrave and Rupert Graves, "When She Danced" (1991) with Vanessa Redgrave, Oleg Menshikov and Frances De La Tour and "Onassis" (2010) with Robert Lindsay. His play "Some Sunny Day" premiered at the Hampstead Theatre in 1996, with Rupert Everett and Corin Redgrave. He found success in the genre of one-woman plays with Rose, which was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play when it premiered in London in 1999. The show transferred to Broadway the following year where it starred Olympia Dukakis.[8] His most recent play "Gently Fown The Steam" premiered at the Public Theatre in New York in 2017, directed by Sean Mathias and starring Harvey Fierstein.

In 2003, Franco Zeffirelli directed Sherman's adaptation of Luigi Pirandello's play, Right You Are, if You Think So. The pair retitled the work Absolutely! {perhaps} when it premiered at the Wyndham Theatre on London's West End where it was nominated that year for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Revival. Following that critical acclaim, Sherman also premiered stage adaptations of the novels A Passage to India by E.M. Forster and The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone by Tennessee Williams.[11] He also found success as a screenwriter in the 1990s. Sherman adapted Bent for the big screen in 1997 with the help of director Sean Mathias and starring such actors as Clive Owen, Ian McKellen, and Mick Jagger.[12]

Other film titles include Clothes in the Wardrobe in 1992 (released in the US as The Summer House, 1993), an adaptation Alice Thomas Ellis's novel, with Jeanne Moreau, Joan Plowright, Julie Waters and Lena Headey, "Alive and Kicking" (1996), directed by Nancy Meckler, with Jason Flemyng, Antony Sher, Dorothy Tutin and Bill Nighy, as well as a collaboration with Franco Zeffirelli on Callas Forever (2002), a biopic of opera star Maria Callas, with Fanny Ardant and Jeremy Irons. Sherman also wrote The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (2003), a made-for-TV movie directed by Robert Allan Ackerman, with Helen Mirren, Anne Bancroft and Olivier Martinez and Mrs. Henderson Presents (2005), the tale of an eccentric World War I widow, Laura Henderson who buys the old Windmill Theatre in London and relaunches it as a venue for female all nude revues. The latter starred Judi Dench, Bob Hoskins, and Christopher Guest,[13] and was directed by Stephen Frears. It earned Sherman a nomination for a British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) Award for Best Original Screenplay.[14]

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  1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Sherman