HOUSTON -- If you were a young dramatist, would you want the likes of Tony Award-winning playwright Terrence McNally in the audience? For Gary Bonasorte whose comedy-drama Ascendancy continues through Feb. 15 at Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston, this is a rhetorical question. He is McNally's protege. They recently celebrated their fifth anniversary, Bonasorte said.
"He [McNally] was the inspiration behind the piece," Bonasorte volunteered the day after opening, which McNally (Ragtime, Love! Valour! Compassion!) attended. "The great body of work he has written motivates me. And he has been a great supporter of the play, from the very beginning. He's been at every reading, every workshop. He gives great notes."
Bonasorte, who has also written Killing Real Estate Women, Reinventing Daddy, The Aunts, and The Marie Antoinette Society, based Ascendancy on his experiences with the Community Research Initiative on AIDS which he co-founded in New York in 1990. The play documents the familial bonds that develop between patients and workers at a clinical drug trial.
"People in crises are very funny. I keep thinking of the comedy/tragedy masks. Ascendancy has a lot of both. Strangers coming together, not dying but living, through humor and pain, hope and spirit."
Bonasorte and McNally have a house in the country. "While he writing Master Class, I was writing Ascendancy." They'd work in separate quarters for three shifts a day, convening for meals. Ascendancy continues through Feb. 15 at Stages Repertory Theatre in Houston. For tickets, $10 - $28, call 1-800-776-6048.
-- By Peter Szatmary