(Als’s article appeared in the 6/29 New Yorker; via Pam Green.)
Illusions generated a lot of talk in postwar American theatre. The truth is that no amount of reality could compete with the Holocaust. So there was a turning inward. In 1947, Tennessee Williams’s Blanche DuBois told audiences that she wanted not realism but “magic,” and that emotional honesty wasn’t necessarily synonymous with the truth. Six years later, in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” a play inspired by the hysteria of the McCarthy era, a young girl’s fears and neuroses turned reality into fantasy, a weapon of suspicion and dread. When Mart Crowley’s “The Boys in the Band” opened Off Broadway, in 1968, it raised the curtain on certain aspects of gay male life, but it also showed that self-acceptance was still an illusion for gay people, who had spent too long struggling to breathe in the swamps of hatred and self-hatred.