Friday, November 4, 2022








Broadway producer Tom Kirdahy announced today the creation of the Terrence McNally Foundation, continuing the legendary playwright’s singular legacy of mentorship and activism. The Terrence McNally Foundation is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization committed to supporting bold new voices in the American theatre by providing financial and institutional support to early-career playwrights. In addition, the Foundation is committed to supporting LGBTQ causes, as McNally did throughout his life. 


“Art and activism were central to Terrence’s life. At a time when living as an out gay man came at a great professional cost, Terrence wrote and loved fearlessly. Terrence was a truth-teller who never wrote in code. His groundbreaking plays and musicals fundamentally shaped the way a generation of Americans talked about LGBTQ+ issues. The Foundation looks forward to supporting playwrights and activists who are risk takers,” notes Tom Kirdahy, Terrence McNally’s husband. 


As part of its inaugural efforts, the Foundation is thrilled to announce the launch of the fully funded Terrence McNally New Works Incubator at Rattlestick TheaterMcNally was passionate about supporting early career playwrights and often could be found attending shows at small off-Broadway venues across New York City. As a Village resident, McNally had a particular love for Rattlestick and its mission of supporting playwrights. The Terrence McNally New Works Incubator is designed to support three emerging playwrights by awarding each of their critical financial support, personalized mentorship, and a one-week developmental workshop culminating in a presentation of their work. The submission process is free and open to the public and the selection panel for the inaugural cohort of McNally fellows includes Sheila CallaghanStephen Karam, MJ KaufmanDonja R. Love, Taylor Mac, Lynn Nottage, Paula Vogel, and Chey Yew.


“The aesthetic range of Terrence’s work—from dynamic Broadway musicals to intense intimate plays—is truly singular in the pantheon of great American playwrights. For over 60 years, Terrence was a fundamental part of New York’s playwriting scene, and he played an important role in the founding of Rattlestick in 1994. This incubator honors his contribution and enables his innovative body of work and powerful spirit to be an inspiring force for emerging playwrights now and in the future,” adds Daniella Topol, the Artistic Director of Rattlestick Theater.


In addition, to support for playwrights, the Foundation is committed to the furtherance of LGBTQ+ rights. McNally was an LGBTQ+ pioneer whose unapologetic activism was central to his life and career. He put gay characters on a Broadway stage well before Stonewall (And Things That Go Bump In The Night); chronicled the AIDS pandemic with plays like Lips Together, Teeth Apart, and Love! Valour! Compassion!; endured death threats and a Fatwa with his play Corpus Christi, and wrote the first Broadway play to include a gay married couple (Mothers and Sons).


McNally was born and died in Florida, where he kept a home with his husband for many years. In recognition of his lifetime of service to the LGBTQ+ community, Equality Florida, the state’s largest LGBTQ+ rights organization, posthumously awarded McNally with their highest honor, The Voice of Equality Award, in 2021. Combatting the rise of the bigoted “Don’t Say Gay” movement in Florida, the Foundation has made a $25,000 donation to Equality Florida to help fight discriminatory legislation in the state. 


“We are so grateful to the Terrence McNally Foundation for this generous gift that directly supports efforts to end Florida’s hateful and discriminatory anti-LGBTQ+ legislation. We were proud to recognize Terrence McNally with our highest honor and this targeted contribution to support our legal team continues his amazing legacy,” says Nadine Smith, Executive Director of Equality Florida.


In addition to a board of directors that includes Mr. Kirdahy, the Foundation is managed by McNally’s former assistant, Santino DeAngelo, who oversees his legacy.


“As a playwright and a young gay man soon-to-be married, every day I am walking down a trail first blazed by Terrence. Terrence dared to let gay people openly exist on stage and, in doing so, made room in the hearts of audiences for LGBTQ+ people to exist in real life. I am honored to be a steward of his legacy and to protect and share his words and convictions with future generations.” 


McNally’s legacy lives on in his plays, musicals, and operas that continue to be performed all over the world, as well as in his papers, which are kept and open to the public at the internationally renowned humanities research center, the Harry Ransom Center in the University of Texas at Austin.


“Terrence McNally's work and mentorship changed the face of the American theatre,” says Dr. Eric Colleary, theater historian and curator of performing arts at The University of Texas at Austin's Harry Ransom Center. “His papers reveal the many lives he touched and the innovative ways he expanded the craft of storytelling. It's an incredible gift to know that the Terrence McNally Foundation will extend Terrence's impact for years to come.”


TERRENCE McNALLY was an American playwright, librettist, and LGBTQ+ trailblazer, described by the New York Times as “the bard of the American Theater.” One of the few playwrights of his generation to successfully pass from the avant-garde to mainstream acclaim, McNally redefined American playwriting for six decades and was the recipient of a record-breaking five Tony Awards (two for his plays Love! Valour! Compassion! and Master Class, two for the books to his musicals Kiss of the Spider Woman and Ragtime, and the 2019 Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement). He received the 2011 Dramatists Guild Lifetime Achievement Award (he was Vice President of the Guild from 1981 to 2001), the 2015 Lucille Lortel Lifetime Achievement Award, a 1996 induction into the American Theater Hall of Fame, and, in 2018, an induction into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. His other accolades include an Emmy Award (“Andre’s Mother”), two Guggenheim Fellowships, a Rockefeller Grant, four Drama Desk Awards, two Lucille Lortel Awards, two Obie Awards, and three Hull-Warriner Awards. McNally was an alumnus of Columbia University and received numerous honorary degrees, including from NYU and Juilliard, where he helped create the playwriting program in 1993. His legacy lives on in his plays, musicals, and operas that continue to be performed all over the world, as well as in his papers, which are kept and open to the public at the Harry Ransom Center in the University of Texas at Austin. 


Terrence McNally’s musical, A Man of No Importance, written with Lynn Ahrens and Stephen Flaherty, recently opened at Classic Stage Company to rave reviews and is a New York Times “Critic’s Pick.” Directed by John Doyle and starring Jim Parsons, the new production has been extended through December 18, 2022.


For more information about the Terrence McNally Foundation, visit terrencemcnallyfoundation.org.


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