Equal parts tender love story, Hollywood exposé, and provocative think piece.”—Out Magazine

2012 ALA Stonewall Honor Book in Literature

Lambda Literary Finalist!


ISBN: 978-0-9844707-9-2

The Temperamentals

by Jon Marans

“Temperamental” was code for “homosexual” in the early 1950s, part of a secret language gay men used to communicate. The Temperamentals, Jon Marans' hit off-Broadway play, tells the story of two men—the communist Harry Hay and the Viennese refugee and designer Rudi Gernreich—as they fall in love while building the Mattachine Society, the first gay rights organization in the pre-Stonewall United States. This special edition includes Marans’ script and production photos from the off-Broadway production of the play, along with a foreword by actor Michael Urie; an introduction by activist David Mixner; a look at Gernreich's fashion career by journalist Joel Nikolaou; and an afterword on Harry Hay by journalist Michael Bronski.



“Intellectual, emotional and sexual.” 

The New York Times


About the author

Jon Marans’ play The Temperamentals was produced by Daryl Roth and Stacy Shane and ran off-Broadway for over eight months at the Barrow Group and at New World Stages, NYC. The Temperamentals was nominated for both the Lucille Lortel and the Outer Critics Circle Award for Outstanding New Off-Broadway play and Mr. Marans was nominated for the John Gassner Award. The entire cast won the Drama Desk Award for Best Ensemble and Michael Urie won the Lucille Lortel Award for Outstanding Lead Actor. Mr. Marans’ play Old Wicked Songs was a Pulitzer Prize Finalist for Drama, included in Otis Guernsey's Best Plays of 1996-97, and won the New York Drama League Award (including play and both actors) and L.A. Drama Logue Award. It was first presented by the Walnut Street Theatre, then in NYC by the Barrow Group, and then moving (produced by Daryl Roth and Jeffrey Ash) to the Promenade Theater where it ran for a season. In England, Old Wicked Songs started at the Bristol Old Vic, transferring to London's West End at the Gielgud Theater starring Bob Hoskins and James Callis. The play has been produced throughout the U.S. and has been translated and produced in over a dozen countries. Other produced shows include: A Strange and Separate People (Penguin Rep), A Girl Scout World (Bloomington Playwrights Project), Jumping For Joy (Laguna Playhouse and the International Adelaide Theater Festival), Legacy of the Dragonslayers (book by Jon Marans, lyrics by Ronnie Gilbert, San Jose Rep), Irrationals (book and lyrics Jon Marans, music by Edward Thomas, Village Theater and ATA, NYC.) In television, Mr. Marans was a writer for “Cookin’ in Brooklyn” and a writer/lyricist for the 1991 New Carol Burnett show. In film, Jon Marans and Yuri Sivo were hired by Universal Pictures/Tribeca productions to write a political/war screenplay based on Roy Rowan’s acclaimed book Chasing the Dragon which takes place in 1947 China, in the middle of their civil war. Mr. Marans is a graduate of Duke University in mathematics and a minor in music.



Praise for The Temperamentals

It would've been easy to write a hagiography of [gay visionary Harry] Hay and his compatriots. It also would've been really boring, and mostly pointless, with little to say about GLBT rights today. Instead, playwright Jon Marans has written the brilliantly-titled The Temperamentals, a play that captures all the messy complexity of the founding of a movement. . . . There's much more I could say about this bold, terrific play — I didn't even mention how truly funny it is! So hopefully it goes without saying that all this adds up to a strong recommendation for this edition.”

—Brent Hartinger, After Elton (Read the full review here.)

“Those of us not fortunate enough to be regular Manhattan theatergoers miss out on many important works of gay literature because they happen to be written as scripts, not books. And literature like The Temperamentals should not be missed.  But Marans offers more than a history lesson here, drawing deft psychological portraits of Hay-a brilliantly brusque, unromantic sociopolitical theorist-and Gernreich, the budding fashion designer whose combination of shrewdness and emotionalism helped channel his lover’s in-your-face, right-is-right attitude into measured, strategic tactics. One of the most intriguing aspects of this volume is the inclusion of a warts-and-all biographical essay on Harry Hay by the historian Michael Bronski. It will force readers to think about the differences between literal history and the artistic embroidering upon history that a play like Marans’ requires. The combination of the play and this provocative afterword makes this book ideal fodder for book group conversations. And with any luck, readers of the book will clamor for more stagings of the play.”

—Jim Gladstone, Edge

“Old-school theatrical storytelling meets gay liberation history in Marans’ off-Broadway play, based with emotional veracity, campy humor and provocative sexiness on the lives of the Mattachine pioneers who founded the first gay-rights organization in pre-Stonewall America. Introductions by political activist David Mixner and actor Michael Urie (of Ugly Betty fame)–he plays fashion designer Rudi Gernreich–provide cultural and theatrical context. Not every play translates well to the printed page, but Temperamentals–code for homosexual in the 1950s, it seems–reads like a good short story.”

Richard Labonté, Bookmarks

“The play brilliantly dramatizes a lesser-known chapter in the ongoing struggle for gay rights. The title, referencing a term used by Mattachine members to connote their homosexuality, epitomizes this play’s invigorating blend of priceless historical tidbits and scintillatingly ironic wit.”

Les Spindle, Backstage.com

The Temperamentals is that rarity, a play that works both as history lesson and as a piece of theatrical magic.”

Steven Stanley, StageSceneLA.com

“With style and a sense of humor, The Temperamentals mixes politics with campy comedy and unexpected bursts of emotional candor.”
—Time Out New York

“The show is equal parts tender love story, Hollywood exposé, and provocative think piece.”
—Out Magazine

“Fascinating, entertaining and emotionally affecting.”
—Associated Press

“Combines savvy context and ascending flights of bittersweet fabulousness.”
—New York Newsday

“Gay activism didn’t start with the Stonewall riots of 1969, a fact made abundantly clear in the informative and evocative play The Temperamentals by Jon Marans.... The Temperamentals succeeds at conveying an era when only a few brave men dared announce their sexual identity before a society that vilified them... Intellectual, emotional and sexual.”
—The New York Times





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