Applause Books Ridiculous! Applause Books Series Softcover Written by David Kaufman


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Founder of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company and winner of theater awards and accolades, playwright/actor/director Ludlam epitomized off-Broadway theater with all its edginess, verve and camp. Ludlam, who died from AIDS in 1987 at age 44, founded his company at 23, was profiled in the New Yorker at 33 and wrote scores of plays before his death. The acting pioneer careened like a juggernaut through the theater world, invoking adoration, acclaim and ire. Openly gay before it was acceptable, Ludlam remained a contradiction: his plays addressed sexual taboos, and Ludlam himself often acted in drag; yet while touring in San Francisco, his dismissive comments about the gay community raised protests, and he kept his illness secret until his death. With devotion, depth and dishiness, critic Kaufman has turned a 1989 Interview article into a decade-long love affair with his subject. The resultant chronology of Ludlam's life from humble Long Island birth to premature death reads like backstage gossip. Fanatically detailed-with over 150 interviews with Ludlam's friends, family, lovers and colleagues; excerpts from his plays, letters and journals; and commentary from critics-the book portrays not merely the man but his era, explicating Ludlam as more than a product of the 1960s' revolutionary sexuality, politics and art: a shaper of attitudes and ideas sexual, theatrical and artistic. Kaufman's assiduously researched work is at times heavy going, but will surely hold theatergoers' interest. Photos. (Nov.) Forecast: The dearth of information on the iconic Ludlam, author interviews, bookstore readings and promotions and interviews in major gay publications should make this popular among theater aficionados as well as gay history buffs. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

In 1967, Ludlam founded the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, famous for its over-the-top productions filled with gender-bending roles, sex, and drug use. Drawing on more than ten years of research (including interviews with Ridiculous stalwarts and Ludlam's cohorts and ex-lovers), Kaufman, a veteran New York theater journalist, describes this influential playwright and actor's flamboyant life and work in riveting fashion. Ludlam's odd, strict, Catholic household and childhood, the creation and success of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company, and his death from AIDS in 1987 are all well rendered. Some of the best portions feature engrossing letters that Ludlam wrote to intimates, balanced by their own comments about him. Kaufman's book complements several other existing works on Ludlam and his company, including Rick Roemer's Charles Ludlam and the Ridiculous Theatrical Company: Critical Analyses of 29 Plays and Ludlam and Steven Samuels's Ridiculous Theatre: Scourge of Human Folly; The Essays and Opinions of Charles Ludlam. Highly recommended for theater and communications libraries.-David M. Lisa, Wayne P.L., NJ Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

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