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Bent (play)

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Written by
First performance
3 May 1979


Original language

Bent (1997)

Bent (play) t0gstaticcomimagesqtbnANd9GcRL2WZ44IXbTaIzj

Date premiered
May 3, 1979 (1979-05-03)

Place premiered
Persecution of homosexuals in Nazi Germany and the Holocaust

Uncle Freddie, Greta, Horst, Max, Rudy

The Boy from Oz, When She Danced, Acting Shakespeare, Torch Song Trilogy, Camping with Henry and Tom

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Bent is a 1979 play by Martin Sherman. It revolves around the persecution of gays in Nazi Germany, and takes place during and after the Night of the Long Knives.


The title of the play refers to the slang word "bent" used in some European countries to refer to homosexuals. [2] When the play was first performed, there was only a trickle of historical research or even awareness about the Nazi persecution of homosexuals. In some regards, the play helped increase that historical research and education in the 1980s and 1990s.

The play starred Ian McKellen in its original 1979 West End production, and Richard Gere in its original 1980 Broadway production. In 1989, Sean Mathias directed a revival of the play, performed as a one-night benefit for Stonewall, featuring Ian McKellen, Richard E Grant, Ian Charleson, and Ralph Fiennes. After receiving critical acclaim, Mathias directed a full run in 1990, with Ian McKellen, Paul Rhys, and Christopher Eccleston, which won the City Limits Award for Revival of the Year.

In 1997, Martin Sherman adapted Bent into a film of the same name, which was directed by Sean Mathias.


Max, a promiscuous gay man in 1930s Berlin, is at odds with his wealthy family because of his homosexuality. One evening, much to the resentment of his boyfriend Rudy, he brings home a handsome Sturmabteilung man. Unfortunately, it is the night that Hitler orders to assassinate the upper echelon of the Sturmabteilung corps, to consolidate his power. The Sturmabteilung man is discovered and killed by SS men in Max and Rudy's apartment, and the two have to flee Berlin.

Max's uncle Freddie, who is also gay, but lives a more discreet life with rent boys to satisfy his desires, has organized new papers for Max, but Max refuses to leave his naïve boyfriend behind. As a result, Max and Rudy are found and arrested by the Gestapo and put on a train headed for Dachau concentration camp.

On the train, Rudy calls out to Max as he is taken away to be beaten, so Rudy is brought back and beaten to death by Max, who denies he knows him. Max lies to the guards, telling them that he is a Jew rather than a homosexual, because he believes his chances for survival in the camp will be better if he is not assigned the pink triangle. Max later confesses to a fellow prisoner that the guards then forced him to have intercourse with the body of a dead pre-teen girl to "prove" he was not homosexual.

In the camp, Max makes friends with Horst, who shows him the dignity that lies in acknowledging what one is. They fall in love and become lovers through their imagination and through their words. After Horst is shot by camp guards, Max puts on Horst's jacket with the pink triangle and commits suicide by grabbing an electric fence.

1980 Broadway

The show was directed by Robert Allan Ackerman, scenery by Santo Loquasto, costumes by Robert Wojewodski, lighting by Arden Fingerhut, and music by Stanley Silverman. The show featured Richard Gere as Max, David Marshall Grant as Rudy, James Remar as Wolf, Michael Gross as Greta, George Hall as Uncle Freddie, Bryan E. Clark as Officer, David Dukes as Horst, Ron Randell as Captain, and the Guards were Kai Wulff, Philip Kraus, and John Snyder.


The show made its Seattle Premier at Empty Space Theater and ran through 1982.

The first Toronto, Ontario, Canada production of Bent was in 1981 at the Bathurst Street Theatre. It starred Richard Monette as Max, Brent Carver as Horst and Jeff Wincott as Wolf.


Was produced by Diversionary Theatre in San Diego,CA. 24 shows. Done in the round, it was a major success with many sold-out performances.

February: The show is produced in French by Le Moderne Theatre, Liège, Belgium. 12 performances. There was a revival in November 2000.


A production of Bent ran at the Annex Theatre in Toronto, produced by Upstart Crow Theatre Company. Directed by Walter Young, the production featured Philip Cairns as Greta and Darren Stewart-Jones as Rudy.


January: presented by Theater in the Round, Minneapolis, MN


November: presented at Cornell University by Risley Theatre, Ithaca, NY. Directed by Shira Golding, with Hans Vermy as Max.


July: presented by Singaporean theatre company Toy Factory Theatre Ensemble, directed by Beatrice Chia


October: Presented by Graeae Theatre Company, Director Jenny Sealey applies her unique approach to seamlessly fuse audio description, sign language, music and physicality to create a shattering performance.


December: Trafalgar Studios in London, starring Alan Cumming as Max, and Chris New as Horst.


October: produced by the 13th Street Repertory Company in New York City. Directed by Joshua Chase Gold, and starring Ryan Nicholoff as Max and Jim Halloran as Horst, the production was received to strong reviews and sold out audiences.

October 31-November 17: the Meta.for Theatre production at Performance Works in Vancouver, British Columbia, starring Seán Cummings as Max and Thrasso Petras as Horst.


January: Bent was presented in Amarillo TX by AVENUE 10, causing the theatre to be targeted by an anti-homosexual Christian group resulting in the theatre being shut down and forced to find another venue for the show.

March: Bent made its Cincinnati debut at New Stage Collective.

May: Pandora Productions of Louisville, Kentucky.

May: presented at Stanford University by STAMP, the Stanford Theatre Activist Mobilization Project, co-sponsored by the Emma Goldman Society for Queer Liberation.

June 25–30: by Theatre Engine at the Abrams Studio Theatre in Toronto.

July 9-August 15: produced by Hubris Productions at the Greenhouse Theatre in Chicago, with original music by John Kamys aka Jinx Titanic from July 9 to August 15, 2009. This production was sanctioned by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, and a portion of the proceeds from this show benefitted the museum.

September: The Rhodes University Drama Department in Grahamstown, South Africa presented a revival of the show as a Masters Coursework examination. This production commemorated the play's 30th anniversary.

October 29-November 22: produced by Diversionary Theatre in San Diego, California in collaboration with ion theatre company.

November: Altera Vitae Productions of Canada presented the Montreal, Quebec premiere in November 2009 at L'Espace 4001. Directed by Carolyn Fe, the cast included: Christopher Moore (Max), Adam Leblanc (Rudy), Vance de Waele (Horst), Serge Turcotte (Greta), Mark Waters (Uncle Freddie), Yves Jacquier (Captain).

November: produced by Fullerton College's theatre arts department.


February–March: Focus Theatre presented a revival of Bent at the Belvoir St Theatre in Sydney as part of the Mardi Gras festival.

March 25: Cardinal Heenan Drama [Sam Kane & Joshua Hale] perform "Bent" In Knotty Ash Hall, Liverpool.

March: Oxford University students presented an amateur production of the show in the Keble O'Reilly Theatre.

April 27 - May 15 - Bent was performed at The Landor Theatre, London directed by Andrew Keates. Andrew Keates is the youngest director to be granted the professional rights by Martin Sherman himself to direct the play. The production was such a success, that it transferred to The Tabard Theatre, Chiswick for a further six weeks.

May 7–8: an amateur production will be presented at The Questors Theatre in Ealing, London.

May 6–16: at the Lowry Theatre in Saint Paul, Minnesota, Bent will be produced by the Actor's Theatre of Minnesota.

May 26: Kidbrooke School and Specialist Arts College, London, A-level Showcase.

June 4–13: at the Rivoli Theater in South Fallsburg, New York. "Bent" was produced by the Sullivan County Dramatic Workshop and directed by Constance S. Slater. The production starred Matt Meinsen as Max, Rich Hotaling as Horst, and Jim Pillmeier as Rudy and went on to receive 4 acting awards from The Theater Association of New York State. In addition it was recognized as the drama of the year by the Times Herald Record. The production was a gift from the Arthur A. Slater Memorial Fund.

July 6 - August 8: at the Tabard Theatre following from a production at the Landor Theatre in May.

September 3 - October 9: Long Beach Shakespeare Company, Long Beach, CA, directed by Denis McCourt, MFA.

October 8-October 16 Frostburg State University, Frostburg, MD directed by Linda McCulloch


March; The University of Kent. The Columbia Entertainment Company, a community theatre in Columbia, Missouri.

April; El Centro College, Dallas Texas. Directed by Daniel Scott Cates. The show starred Patrick Patterson-Caroll, Benjamin Webster, Bruce Roe, Meg Hargis, Gerrardo Zubiri, Dean Armstrong and Justin Darnell.


March 1–9: Hart House Theatre, Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Directed by Carter West, featuring Ryan G. Hinds as Greta and Nathaniel Bacon as Wolf.

March 15–17: UEA (University of East Anglia) Studio, Norwich. Produced by the Minotaur Theatre Company. Directed by Michael Liam Dolan. Starring Tom Wingfield as Max, Jonathan Moss as Horst, Elliot Hughes as Rudy, Eliot Ruocco-Trenouth as Wolf, Ashley Fullerton as Greta and Josh Allan as Uncle Freddie.

June 1–23: Baltimore, MD. Produced by the Mobtown Players Theatre Company.

September 14–22: Somerville, MA. Produced by Theatre@First. Directed by Nick Bennett-Zendzian. Starring Jason Hair-Wynn as Max, Zach McQueary as Horst, Rocky Graziano as Rudy, J. Deschene as Greta and Ben Delatizky as Uncle Freddie.

October 8–13: Lace Market Theatre, Nottingham, United Kingdom. Directed by Roger Newman. Starring Paul Johnson as Max, Damian Frendo as Horst, Lewis Brookbanks as Rudy, David Wills as Wolf, Jim Brooks as Greta and Piotr Wisniewski as Uncle Freddie.


April 25–28: CalArts (California Institute of the Arts) Valencia, CA. Presented by The CalArts Coffeehouse Theater. Directed by Fran Bennett. The show starred Jeffrey Scott Basham as Max, James Michael Cowan as Horst, Mathew Joseph as Rudy, Emilio Garcia-Sanchez as Wolf, Anatoliy Ogay as Greta and Kevin Whitmire as Uncle Freddie. Widely esteemed by faculty, a professional production in Los Angeles is rumored to be coming to fruition in addition a touring this show in select cities.

October 23–27: Pace Performing Arts (Pace University) New York, NY. Presented at the Schaeberle Studio, and playing to sell-out crowds over its 7 show run. Directed by Dr. Ruis Woertendyke ("Doc"). The show starred Dominick Pate as Max, Riley Galt Suter as Horst, Jesse Keitel as Rudy, Zack Signore as Wolf, Nick Sanza as Greta and Jade Ziane as Uncle Freddie. Dane Guiffre, Thomas Hutchinson, Jake Williams, Jeremy Kreuzer, Justin Hart and Steven Brandt rounded out the cast.

International productions

Bent was premiered in French at Le Théâthe de Poche in Brussels (Belgium) in January 1980. French translation by Lena Grinda, directed by Derek Goldby, with Alain Libolt, Jean-Pierre Dauzun, Yves Deguenne, Pierre Dumaine, Fabrice Eberhard, Bernard Graczyk, Thomas Hutereau, Jean Couvrin, Tobias Kempf, Roland Mahauden. There was a rerun in September 1998.

The first production in French in Paris was in 1981, with Bruno Cremer, Jean-Pierre Sentier, Didier Sauvegrain et Jean-Claude Dreyfus.

The first production in Brazil was in 1981, at Teatro Villa Lobos (Rio de Janeiro) with José Mayer (Max), Tonico Pereira (Horst), Ricardo Blat (Rudy) and Paulo César Grande. Albeit the country was still under a military dictatorship. Sherman's text was presented uncensored.

A production in Liège, Belgium opened on February 1993 at Thèâtre Le Moderne, directed by Daniel Henry. There was a rerun in November 2000 with Michel Delamarre as Horst.

A production in Buenos Aires, Argentina, opened on September 2000 starring Alex Benn, Gustavo Ferrari and Gustavo Monje.

A French production in Paris opened on April 2010 for 3 months . Directed by Anne Barthel starring Michel Mora as Max, Jean Matthieu Erny as Horst, Valentin Terrer as Rudy, Philippe Renon as Greta, Matthieu Karmensky as Wolf, Gérard Cheylus as uncle Freddie, Fréderic Morel as SS gard Reopened on April 2011 for 3 months and 1 months in Avignon French Festival. This version is considered by the author as the closest of his writing.

A second production in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, opened on 2011 starring Augusto Zacchi, Gustavo Rodrigues,Augusto Garcia, Breno Pessurno, Miro Marques, Henrique Pinho, Vinicius Vommaro e Evandro Manchini.

A production in San Juan, Puerto Rico, opened in June 2012 starring Teofilo Torres, Leonardo Castro and Tony Torres.

A Polish production in translation of Rubi Birden premiered in Warsaw Teatr Dramatyczny on October 2, 2015 starring Mariusz Drężek, Kamil Siegmund, Piotr Bulcewicz, Piotr Siwkiewicz, Maciej Wyczański <http://teatrdramatyczny.pl/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2412&Itemid=776>.


Bent (play) Wikipedia