Winnipeg playwright Brian Drader doesn’t like being pigeonholed by his sexual orientation. “I’m a writer who is gay,” says Drader. “I’m not necessarily a gay writer.” But Drader is delighted to be one of the five nominees for this year’s Lambda Literary Award for Drama, one of 20 awards given out annually by the Lambda Literary Foundation to recognize the best in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender writing. The 43year-old is nominated for Prok, which explores the sensational double life of sex researcher Alfred C. Kinsey, whose public image as a straitlaced, bow-tied academic belied personal proclivities including bisexuality, voyeurism and masochism.
Drader(above) examines the proclivities of a 1950s sex researcher
Prok (a nickname derived from Kinsey being called Professor K) premiered at Winnipeg’s Theatre Projects Manitoba in 2001, followed by a successful run at Philadelphia’s Brick Playhouse in 2003. While certainly not one for the kiddies-backdrops at the Winnipeg production included slide projections of male and female genitalia, anal sex and fellatio—the play aims to do more than shock or titillate. Drader considers Kinsey, who died in 1956, a major cultural figure of the 20th century. “He published his research in the late 1940s and early 1950s, a time when no one even spoke the word ‘homosexual,’ ” says Drader. “He started the dialogue that became the sexual revolution.”
If Drader snaps up the Lambda award (to be presented in Chicago on June 3), he will be in excellent company. In the 1990s, Tony Kushner earned the honour for his play, Angels in America. In the meantime, Drader is working on a heterosexual romantic comedy film and a new play, and says he’s already reaping benefits from the nomination. “It is,” he chuckles, “a great dating tool.”
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