Read Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America by Sarah Schulman Online


In Stagestruck noted novelist and outspoken critic Sarah Schulman offers an account of her growing awareness of the startling similarities between her novel People in Trouble and the smash Broadway hit Rent. Written with a powerful and personal voice, Schulman’s book is part gossipy narrative, part behind-the-scenes glimpse into the New York theater culture, and part polemIn Stagestruck noted novelist and outspoken critic Sarah Schulman offers an account of her growing awareness of the startling similarities between her novel People in Trouble and the smash Broadway hit Rent. Written with a powerful and personal voice, Schulman’s book is part gossipy narrative, part behind-the-scenes glimpse into the New York theater culture, and part polemic on how mainstream artists co-opt the work of “marginal” artists to give an air of diversity and authenticity to their own work. Rising above the details of her own case, Schulman boldly uses her suspicions of copyright infringement as an opportunity to initiate a larger conversation on how AIDS and gay experience are being represented in American art and commerce. Closely recounting her discovery of the ways in which Rent took materials from her own novel, Schulman takes us on her riveting and infuriating journey through the power structures of New York theater and media, a journey she pursued to seek legal restitution and make her voice heard. Then, to provide a cultural context for the emergence of Rent—which Schulman experienced first-hand as a weekly theater critic for the New York Press at the time of Rent’s premiere—she reveals in rich detail the off- and off-off-Broadway theater scene of the time. She argues that these often neglected works and performances provide more nuanced and accurate depictions of the lives of gay men, Latinos, blacks, lesbians and people with AIDS than popular works seen in full houses on Broadway stages. Schulman brings her discussion full circle with an incisive look at how gay and lesbian culture has become rapidly commodified, not only by mainstream theater productions such as Rent but also by its reduction into a mere demographic made palatable for niche marketing. Ultimately, Schulman argues, American art and culture has made acceptable a representation of “the homosexual” that undermines, if not completely erases, the actual experiences of people who continue to suffer from discrimination or disease. Stagestruck’s message is sure to incite discussion and raise the level of debate about cultural politics in America today....

Title : Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780822321323
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 176 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Stagestruck: Theater, AIDS, and the Marketing of Gay America Reviews

  • Bäumchen
    2019-05-26 10:17

    Dieses Buch macht es sich zur Aufgabe, queere Aktivist*innen und Künstler*innen und ihre Arbeit, ihren Mut, ihr Engagement innerhalb der Aids-Krise und heute sichtbar zu machen. Sarah Schulman zerreißt den Heterosexismus und Rassismus im vermeintlich diversen "Rent"-Musical, das elementare Teile ihres Buches plagiierte und obendrein noch den weißen heterosexuellen Mann zum "Helden der Aids-Krise" macht. Dabei benutzt sie einen bedeutenden Teil des Buches, um andere marginalisierte Theaterregisseurinnen hervorzuheben und erzählt wie nebenbei vom berauschenden East Village zu der Zeit, wo die Aids-Krise auf ihrem Höhepunkt war. Sehr schönes, warmes, aber auch scharf geschriebenes Buch, exzellente Lektüre, die Freude und Leid queerer Geschichte vereint.

  • Jim
    2019-05-01 05:07

    A very enlightening book! The last chapter, about the commodification of gay experience for straight consumption, is as timely today (or more so!) as when the book was written in 1998. Also the insights into lesbians' experience as playwrights, etc., I've never seen before. Now I really understand why films like "Dallas Buyers Club" left me with such an uneasy feeling (i.e., the straight world as the saviors of gay people with AIDS -- yeah, right.) HIghly recommended for anyone curious about how the gay experience is interpreted by the powers that be in the arts - and if you're gay, why so much of what's presented in a "gay" TV show or movie leaves you scratching your head.

  • Gloss
    2019-05-09 11:57

    Starting with an analysis of RENT's roots in her own novel, People in Trouble, Schulman expands her critique to examine how queer culture and experiences are sanitized in the process of becoming consumer products. Mindblowing; I reread this book every 18 months or so.

  • Jon
    2019-05-03 09:05

    Stagestruck is essentially a very interesting cohesive collection of essays framed around Schulman's personal experience with the alleged plagiarism of Rent. The weakest parts of the book is when Schulman goes into great depth to explain her side of the story, the moustache-twirling villainy of her opponents, and her sacrifice in not pursuing the suit. The most compelling part of this story- why Schulman decided not to pursue the suit, even though she clearly had a case and support, wasn't explained fully. In the absence of that explanation, the reader is left to determine there was little actual merit in the case itself. This is only the premise of Stagestruck, however, which quickly ascends to a deep and incisive study of the sexual and ethnic gentrification of the East Village, and the fundamental issues with the presentation and consumption of gay culture. This is where the deeply personal nature of Stagestruck is at its strongest, as Schulman rattles off queer icons, plays, performances, and magazines in quick, yet loving, succession. Her knowledge of the impact of HIV/AIDS on culture is particularly profound, and it shows her proximity and understanding of the subject matter. In particular, the arguments she makes against biological determinism were ahead of their time, and will continue to be the gold standard in challenging the "Born This Way" narrative. A clearer picture of Schulman and her suit against the Larson estate emerges in these arguments than in her recounting of the experiences. Towards the end of the book, it becomes clearer that, to Schulman, Rent was not only emblematic of the marketing of gay America, but represented the demeaning of her life's work fighting AIDS and the gentrification of her neighbourhood. Doubts about her authenticity in the suit are quelled.This is a useful introductory book to problems with representation in theatre, yet those expecting an academic or genuinely persuasive text will be deeply disappointed.

  • Sam
    2019-05-13 11:20

    Necessary reading on queer issues. Sarah Schulman crushes it again. How I adore her mind.

  • Kyle
    2019-05-14 07:06

    This is an important read for those only familiar with the "official" story of the making of the Broadway musical "Rent". Although I don't think Schulman fully realizes the potential of this project the ideas she formulates are fascinating and significant fodder for thought. The theft of authentic LGBT stories by straight authors is still going on, even in today's culture of supposed openness and acceptance. I congratulate Schulman for feeling this underhanded creative theft is more insidious than any monetary gain she might've lost from Jonathan Larson lifting ideas and characters from her book "People in Trouble". I'd love to read a follow-up now that it's been seventeen years since "Stagestruck"'s first publication. It would be interesting to read what new, similar cases have popped up over the years and Schulman's opinions on the marketing of today's Gay America.

  • A
    2019-05-25 09:20

    The second most important book I've ever read, after Schulman's scolding, scalding, incendiary The Gentrification of the Mind. The first buds of the literally (for me) life-changing ideas that reach their full flower in Gentrification are clearly visible here. If you enjoy the theater, are queer, or both, put down your copy of Finishing the Hat right now and replace it with this book. Then sit back and prepare to have your mind blown, your bile choke you, and your heart torn asunder.

  • Sarah Mangle
    2019-05-22 07:54

    This book is highly reccomended!A great analysis of the marketing of gay culture to the mainstream and what that does... calls into question a sense of responsibility we must take on, what does recognition mean at any cost, and when is it really recognition, (if at all) when a profit is being made? Also: make me think about the role of theatre and narrative in political discussion and history making/preserving.

  • Liza
    2019-04-29 07:09

    Ok I know this book makes some really important true points that are pretty devastating in their implications, and I can understand how this whole experience would have been absolutely enraging to go through, but I just had a really hard time staying in the headspace of taking Rent so seriously, you know? Like a little 500 25 thousand six hundred minutes kept popping into my head and making me want to laugh. I'm probably part of the problem, is what I'm trying to say. Sorry!

  • Ezra
    2019-05-03 09:58

    I'm re-reading this and appreciating it all over again, especially in the context of The Gentrification of the Mind: Witness to a Lost Imagination. So good!

  • Resistance
    2019-05-09 05:52

    I am always rewarded when I read back into Schulman's nonfiction. Here we find the germ of many themes in her novels, including the critique of marketing as it will be developed in The Mere Future (2010). I just wish I knew how to access her staged texts. Much more to say, but read everything the woman writes.

  • Hubert
    2019-04-29 08:22

    Excellent text - outlines how mainstream media has coopted the narratives of lives of AIDS victims, lesbians, and gays. Schulman makes a convincing case that Larson has sugarcoated a story drawn from her own novel People in Trouble and make it amenable for middle-class audiences. Schulman draws upon much literary and activist experiences and once again as always speaks truth to power.

  • Julian
    2019-04-28 05:59

    The weakest part was the plagiarism accusations. I'm just not sold on that. The rest was an eye-opening look at the theater scene and how it handled (i.e. mishandled) gay issues and AIDS around the time of Rent.

  • Jessica
    2019-04-27 08:16

    To be honest, I have never watched RENT. With that being said, I found Schulman's arguments to be valid, especially the point about the AZT medication. I still can't believe that more people don't know about Schulman's work and I can't see how the media and lawyers didn't agree with her evidence.

  • Morgan M. Page
    2019-05-10 10:01

    Critically important insights on the appropriation and marketing of gay lives and art that remain as, if not more, powerful now as they were when she published this in 1998.

  • Bridget
    2019-05-27 09:53

    If you like Rent, read this book; sorry...

  • Bryn
    2019-05-09 11:16

    I finally actually read it! Fascinating. Relies a little heavily on a WE, A LESBIAN PEOPLE rhetoric, but Sarah, she's not one to back down.

  • Ray
    2019-05-08 08:59

    Sarah is so smart. And almost always right.

  • Leigh
    2019-05-02 05:00

    Honestly I haven't digested this book enough yet to say how I feel about it, but I'm glad to have finally read it.

  • David
    2019-05-17 10:21

    How did I not read this years ago? Wow! Schulman's book is super smart, interesting, and tells a great story. It's a page-turner.

  • Meredith
    2019-05-24 06:10

    Really disturbing, sad and thought-provoking.

  • Kevin Colemxn
    2019-05-08 05:03

    if you care about art, queer representation, and voices from the margins, you must read this book!