An excerpt from Matthew Lopez’ Op-Ed in the New York Times on what inspired his two-part play about gay culture in the wake of AIDS, and the limits of “affirmative representation.”
Theatergoers of different generations have had passionate responses to The Inheritance, Matthew Lopez’s two-part play about gay culture and the legacy of AIDS. The show was celebrated in its original runs in London, but the reception has been more divided on Broadway, both among professional critics and regular attendees. While many have found the show inordinately moving, others have criticized a lack of diversity in the central cast and narrow representation of contemporary gay life. The NYTs asked Lopez to write about what inspired the play and to reflect on why some audience members don’t like what they see.
Here’s an excerpt:
In writing “The Inheritance,” I wanted to take my favorite novel and retell it in a way that its closeted author never felt free to do in his lifetime. I wanted to write a play that was true to my experience, my philosophy, my heart as a gay man who has enjoyed opportunities that were denied Forster. It was my attempt to explain myself to the world as a gay man of my particular generation.
I wasn’t attempting to create a generationally defining work of theater that spoke for the entire queer experience. I think that if I had started with that intention, I never would have finished. There are some who feel the play should have done just that, and who fault me for not painting on a broader canvas.
Those responses led me to wonder: What do we expect from art, particularly when it is made by members of our own community? And, conversely, what are the responsibilities of artists to the communities to which they belong?
Read the full op-ed here.