Messages for Gary, subtitled "a drama in voicemail," will have its world premiere Aug. 18-29 as part of the 1999 New York International Fringe Festival, at the New York Performance Works Studio.
John Epperson, the drag actor known to audiences as Lypsinka, appears drag-free in the show.
Playwright Patrick E. Horrigan condensed 18 hours of real-life phone messages from the late 1980s from the machine of his late friend, gay activist and socialist scholar Gary Lucek.
"I had inherited my friend's personal effects after he died in 1992, and I knew I wanted to write something about him," Horrigan, an English teacher and writer, told Playbill On-Line. "I didn't know what form it would take. [Gary] had ambitions as a writer, to write a book of essays on gay men and gay culture that would involve politics and personal experience. He was a real record-keeper and saver. He realized the value of these tapes as a document of everyday life."
Iris Rose directs the scenically-spare "choral play," which has sound design by Eric Thompson (with sound consultant Deena Kaye) and lighting design by Mark T. Simpson. Paul Lucas is the producer. Actors on stage recreate the messages in the new 90-minute work, which has an official opening night of Aug. 20. Some real messages will be played and there will be some lip-sync and overlapping, Horrigan said.
Horrigan said the play came out of his wish to write about Lucek, but also his natural interest in memoir and autobiography. An English instructor at the Brooklyn campus of Long Island University, Horrigan, 35, is author of "Widescreen Dreams" (University of Wisconsin Press), about the films of his youth and their link to his development as a gay man.
The cast of Messages for Gary includes Starla Benford, Todd Butera, John Epperson (a.k.a. Lypsinka), Alex McCord, Steve Minow, Kevin Townley and Bob Yarnall, Christopher Zorker.
The New York Performance Works Studio is at 128 Chambers Street in Manhattan. For ($11) tickets, call (212) 420-8877 or (888) FRINGE-NYC.
-- By Kenneth Jones