Martin Sherman’s award-winning play Bent is a story performers in an upcoming Hart House production are excited to share. The play, whose title references Nazi-era slang for gay men, opens in Berlin shortly after the Night of the Long Knives, in 1934, during which Hitler’s henchmen carried out a series of political murders, and revolves around the persecution of gay men in Nazi Germany.
Ryan G Hinds will draw on his extensive cabaret experience for his role, although he says, “Bent couldn’t be further removed from that. It’s a really heavy play; it’s not the Nifty Nazi Follies.” Fellow performer Jad Farris agrees, adding, “It’s also important to remember it is not actually the Holocaust. It’s a few years before, so it’s right at the beginning.”
Farris, fresh from his success in a Toronto production of the Rocky Horror Show, joins the cast as Horst, a politically active, uncompromising gay man who meets the lead character, Max, in the Dachau concentration camp. Farris describes the play as “sort of period, not at all dated,” while Hinds comments on Bent’s modern feel.
Sherman’s play was written in 1979, when there was little knowledge about the Nazis’ persecution of homosexuals. “It’s always important to tell this kind of story because we’re all still learning,” Farris says.
Both performers describe gaps of knowledge within the gay community in relation to its history. “I find that not a lot of people know what ‘bent’ means . . . gay people!” Farris says. “A lot of people I’ve spoken to -- now this is the straight community -- are like, ‘What is this play about?’ And I say, 'The birthplace of the pink triangle.' They’re like, ‘What’s the pink triangle? Is that cancer?’ I thought it was way more known than that!”
Bent is the story of gay men, comfortable in a liberal, tolerant society, who are suddenly thrown into a situation where simple survival may be too much to hope for. Hinds says, “There’s that old saying, ‘Pride goeth before a fall,’ and that is something that definitely resonates for me when it comes to Bent.” — Michael Lyons
Bent runs Fri, March 1 to Sat, March 9 at Hart House Theatre, 7 Hart House Circle. uofttix.ca
Comment has successfully been submitted.
Comment has been rated as Spam and can't be shown.
Are you sure you would like to report this comment? It will be flagged for FAB moderators to take action.
Thank you. This comment has been flagged for moderator attention.