WHY HE MATTERS:
Matthew Lopez followed up his hit Civil War-era drama, The Whipping Man, about the unlikely friendship between a Confederate soldier and a slave, with two very different plays. First, the intensely intimate Reverberation, then the witty The Legend of Georgia McBride, about an Elvis impersonator who takes on a drag persona to pay the bills. Lopez’s “Aunt Priscilla” (a.k.a. Tony winner Priscilla Lopez) helped nurture her nephew’s theatrical aspirations. “She was one of the first people I shared my work with,” says the playwright.
Do you think that you have to be gay to write about the gay experience?
Absolutely not. There are two elements when we talk about “diversity”… representation and opportunity. Representation is seeing characters of color onstage and seeing them in dynamic, non-stereotypical roles. It’s seeing transgender characters onstage. It is seeing women as a driving force. That, for me, is representation. And I don’t believe that you have to belong to that particular group in order to present a character who does belong to that particular group.
The next challenge I want to take on is…
I’m finishing this epic two-part [play], which is my attempt to look at the gay experience in the United States over the last 30 years. A play about the lasting impact of the [AIDS] epidemic and what the terrain looks like between multiple generations of gay men in America.
I hope my legacy as an artist will be…
Other people decide what that is. I’d just like one.