In 1974, Off-Off Broadway veteran Doric Wilson, cabaret star Billy Blackwell and director Peter dell Valle, started the first professional gay theatre company in NYC. It was called The Other Side of Silence; TOSOS for short.
In 2002, directors Mark Finley and Barry Childs and playwright Wilson resurrected the company as TOSOS II, dedicating it to an honest and open exploration of the life experience and cultural sensibility of the GLBT community and to preserving and promoting our literary past in a determined effort to keep our theatrical heritage alive.
In 2004, TOSOS was honored by inclusion in the new permanent theater exhibit at the Museum of the City of New York.
In 2007, founder Doric Wilson received the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Artistic Achievement.
In 2009, Mark Finley decided to take the company back to its origins, rebranding it TOSOS – The Other Side of Silence.
A Brief History of TOSOS
In 1974, Doric Wilson (with Billy Blackwell, Peter del Valle and John McSpadden) formed TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence), as the first professional theatre company to deal openly and honestly with the gay experience. Steve Sterner and Peter del Valle’s musical review LOVERS opened the Basement Theater on Church Street in downtown Manhattan. Starring Jerry Bell, David Fernandez, John Ingle, Martin Rivera and Anthony Santelmo, the show was a success, moving off-Broadway for a commercial run. Michael O’Brien and Jerry Thomas’ famous staging of Gilbert and Sullivan’s IOLANTHE was the last major production at The Basement with Billy Blackwell, Michael Bowers, Reva Cooper, Jeffery Wayne Davies, Toni Hoffman, Stephen Thorn and Deborah van Valkenburgh in the cast.
During its short existence the company featured new plays and revivals by such writers as Brendan Behan, Noël Coward, Christopher Hampton, Charles Jurrist, Joe Orton, Terrence McNally, Robert Patrick, Sandra Scoppettone, Martin Sherman, Doric Wilson and Lanford Wilson with performances by actors like Molly Adams, Tom Bade, Brian Benben, Barbara Berge, Victoria Ellen Bradbury, Dale Carmen, Penny Chaipis, Sally Eaton, Mary Farrell, Bruce Hopkins, Greg Michaels, John Michel, Joe Pichette, Mary Portser, Diane Tarleton and Caroline Yeager.
Besides theater, the programs at TOSOS ranged widely from readings by poets Paul Crawford, Emilio Cubeiro, Dale Driscoll, Jack Galligan and Joe Rubin and exhibitions of art and photography by Tony Coffey, Duss, Audrey Frank, Susan Kurtz, Chuck Lawrence, Steven Marc-Mackin, Ira Siff and Steve Weininger to the notorious MANHOLE parties and cabaret nights featuring Terry Hammond, George Sardi, Johnny Savoy, John Wallowitch and the equally infamous Billy and Tiffany.
A long list of technicians, designers, directors, and sponsors contributed to TOSOS, including Richard Andersen, Jay Arthur, Michael Boyel, Tommy Chaipis, Webb Clason, Jack Dowling, John Draper, Martin Friedman, John Glines, Curtis Holsapple, Rob Kilgallen, Danny Lanning, Reed Lenti, Jack Logan, Marshall W. Mason, Allan Noseworthy, John Pascarella, Ty Pinney, Tom Ross, Jay Schmiedeskamp, Robert Saum, Bruce Shenton, Lou Thomas and Mike Young.
TOSOS went into hibernation in 1979 after the long run of Doric Wilson’s THE WEST STREET GANG at the Spike Bar. When TOSOS began there were no other full-time gay theater companies, when it suspended production, Terry Helbing’s Gay Theater Alliance listed 150 companies all over the world.
In June of 2001, Doric Wilson, Mark Finley and Barry Childs decided to revive the company opening in January with LOOK AGAIN!, a very successful series of concert readings surveying pre-AIDS plays and musicals and benefitting the Pat Parker-Vito Russo Library at The Center.
1 Poster for Peter del Valle & Steven Sterner’s Lovers by Jack Logan.
2 David Fernandez in Peter del Valle & Steven Sterner’s Lovers.
3 Billy Blackwell (Shanghai Lil) & Ivan Smith (Bender) in Doric Wilson’s The West Street Gang at the Spike bar.
4 Brian Benben & Dale Carman (Ian) in Christopher Hampton’s When Did You Last See My Mother?
5 Gary Sneed & Martin Rivera in the off-Broadway production of Peter del Valle & Steven Sterner’s Lovers.
6 Title logo for Doric Wilson’s The West Street Gang
7Peter Jablonski (Jack), Ron Schultz (Virgo) & Alex Sawyer (Marley) in Doric Wilson’s The West Street Gang at the Spike bar.
8 Caroline Yeager (Miss Salome) & Michael O’Brien (Lane) in Doric Wilson’s Now She Dances!. Photo credit: Bruce Shenton
9 Rehearsal for Doric Wilson’s Now She Dances!: Michael O’Brien (Lane) cradles the dead Dale Carman (Bill). Photo credit: Susan Kurtz.
10 First read through of Doric Wilson’s Now She Dances!: Sally Eaton (Miss Salome) and the head of the Prisoner. Photo credit: Susan Kurtz.
11 Sally Eaton (Miss Salome) with the Mask of Moloch in Doric Wilson’s Now She Dances!. Photo credit: Bruce Shenton.
12 Production meeting for John Van Druten’s I Am a Camera: Bruce Hopkins (producer), Doric Wilson, Barbara Berge (Sally) & Peter Lowndes (director).
13 John Michel being fitted for costumes by Billy Blackwell & Michael Bowers.
14 Barbara Berge (Lady Herodias) in Doric Wilson’s Now She Dances!. Photo credit: Bruce Shenton
15 Diane Tarleton (Gilda) in Noël Coward’s Design For Living. Photo credit: Allan Noseworthy.
16 Poster for Noël Coward’s Design For Living by Jack Logan.
17 Tom Bade (Ernest) in Noël Coward’s Design For Living. Photo credit: Allan Noseworthy.
18 Rehearsal for Noël Coward’s Design For Living: Reed Lenti (stage manager), Dale Carman, William Sinclair, and Peter del Valle. Photo credit: Allan Noseworthy.
19 Dale Carman (Nicholas), Marianne Leone (Mrs. Prentice) & Bruce Hopkins (Rance) in Joe Orton’s What the Butler Saw.
20 Deborah van Valkenburgh (Sorel), Molly Adams (Judith) & Liam Brosnahan (Simon) in Noël Coward’s Hey Fever. Photo credit: Philippe Laroche.
21 Flyer for Terrence McNally’s And Things That Go Bump in the Night.
22 Poster for Robert Patrick’s The Haunted Host by Jack Logan.
23 Jeffrey Wayne Davies (Chancellor) in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe. Photo credit: Bruce Shenton.
24 John Ingle (boy) & Billy Blackwell (Leslie) in Lanford Wilson’s The Madness of Lady Bright. Photo credit: Allan Noseworthy.
25 Joseph Pichette (Jay) in Robert Patrick’s The Haunted Host.
26 Billy Blackwell (Celia) & Michael Bowers (Leila) in Gilbert & Sullivan’s Iolanthe. Photo credit: Bruce Shenton.
27 Poster for Lanford Wilson’s The Madness of Lady Bright by Jack Logan.
28 Cast of Brendan Behan’s The Hostage: back row L to R: Michael O’Brien (Pat); Penny Chaipis (Meg); Peter Lownds (Monsewer); Dale Carman (Leslie); Mary Portser (Teresa); Mary Farrell (Gilchrist); Barbara Berge (Colette); Marianne Leone (Sister Ignatius); middle row L to R: Bruce Hopkins (Princess Grace); Terrence M. Sullivan (IRA Officer); Caroline Yeager (Feargus); front row L to R: Webb Clason (Sailor); Judith Brown (Colette); Peter Overko (Merchant Marine); Bernice Rosenthal (Bobo).
29 Penny Chaipis (Meg) & Michael O’Brien (Pat) in Brendan Behan’s The Hostage.
30 Mary Portser (Teresa) & Dale Carman (Leslie) in Brendan Behan’s The Hostage.
31 Flyer for Vito Russo’s Homosexuality in the Movies.
32 Flyer for Sandra Scoppettone’s Home Again, Home Again, Jiggerty Jig.
33 Diane de Lorian (Judy), Molly Adams (Babe), Claire Chapman (Ethel) & Bill Maloney (Mason) in Sandra Scoppettone’s Home Again, Home Again, Jiggerty Jig. Photo credit: Michael Campione.
34 Flyer for poet Emilio Cuberio.
35 Set & poster designer Jack Logan.
36 Poster for Martin Sherman’s Passing By & Terrence McNally’s Noon by Jack Logan.
37 TOSOS goes OZ – Halloween 1974: Doric Wilson (Cowardly Lion), Anthony Santelmo, Jr. (Witch), Martin Rivera (Dorothy) & David Fernandez (Tin Man).
38 Flyer for poet Paul Crawford.
39 Macbeth: Act 1, Scene 1 – Robert Patrick, Doric Wilson & Harvey Fierstein at Phebe’s.