A History of Bent

Martin Sherman’s worldwide hit play Bent took London by storm in 1979 when it was first performed by the Royal Court Theatre, with Ian McKellen as Max (a character written with the actor in mind). The play itself caused an uproar. “It educated the world,” Sherman explained. “People knew about how the Third Reich treated Jews and, to some extent, gypsies and political prisoners. But very little had come out about their treatment of homosexuals.” The title of the play refers to the slang word “bent” used in some European countries to refer to homosexuals.

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The time period of the play is different from most other Holocaust literature. Rather than being set during World War II, the story begins during and after the Night of the Long Knives in 1934, when Hitler’s purge of his Storm Troopers (SA) coincidentally led to the persecution of gays since the head of the SA was gay and his fall provided an excuse for going after other homosexuals. The play continues into 1936, when most of the world still had no idea that any concentration camps existed.

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The subject matter, nudity, and verbal sex in the play were controversial enough, but Bent ignited further controversy with its suggestion that the gays suffered more than the Jews during the Holocaust. Debate continues among historians about the situation of each group under the Nazis. In the meantime, the play was staged in more than thirty countries and, in 1997, Sherman adapted Bent into a film that starred Clive Owen, Ian McKellen, Mick Jagger, Jude Law, and Lothaire Bluteau.

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BENT by Martin Sherman

Directed by Shawn g. Byers
Produced by Amy Solo

The play 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. 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.

Performance Dates:
Friday, June 7, June 14 & June 21 @ 8 p.m.
Saturday, June 8, June 15 & June 22 @ 8 p.m.
Thursday, June 13 & June 20 @ 8 p.m.

For more info and to purchase tickets visit the Dominion Stage Website
Performances for BENT will be at Theatre on the Run, 3700 S. Four Mile Run Dr. Arlington, VA 22206




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