Doric Wilson

doric2Doric Wilson was one of the first playwrights at NYC’s legendary Caffe Cino, his comedy And He Made A Her opening there in 1961, with Jane Lowry and Paxton Whitehead in the leads. Other Cino productions followed, including Now She Dances! (one-act version), Babel Babel Little Tower and Pretty People (with Nancy Wilder and the celebrated mime Tom Lawrence).

Originally from the Pacific Northwest, Wilson was raised on his grandfather’s ranch at Plymouth on the Columbia River of Washington State. He wrote his first play for his English Lit class at Kennewick High School, but was accused of plagiarism when his teacher Miss Shrives informed him that no student she taught would ever be able to write a play. He failed the course.

He received his early theater training under Lorraine Larson, apprenticed with Dorothy Seeburger and the Richland Players (WA), and studied briefly at the Drama Department of the University of Washington until he was asked to leave after he initiated a one person protest against anti-gay shootings at a nearby park.

doric1Wilson moved to NYC in 1958 where, under the mentorship of producer Richard Barr, he became a pioneer of the Off-Off-Broadway movement, writing, directing, producing and/or designing over a hundred productions and becoming a founding member of Circle Repertory Theater and the Barr/Wilder/Albee Playwright’s Unit.

A participant in all three nights of the Stonewall Riot, he became active in the early days of the New York Gay Liberation movement as a member of GAA (Gay Activist Alliance) and as a “star” bartender and manager of the post-Stonewall gay bar scene, opening such landmark institutions as the Spike, TY’s and Brothers & Sisters Cabaret.

In 1974, Doric Wilson (with Billy Blackwell, Peter del Valle and John McSpadden) formed TOSOS (The Other Side of Silence), the first professional theatre company to deal openly and honestly with the gay experience. 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. In June, 2001, Wilson, Mark Finley and Barry Childs resurrected the company as TOSOS II.

Doric Wilson’s plays Street Theater (titled Stonewall 69 outside the US), The West Street Gang, Forever After and became staples of the emerging Gay Theater circuit, widely performed here and abroad and winning numerous honors, including The Villager and Chambers-Blackwell best play citations. In 1994 Wilson received the first Robert Chesley Award for Lifetime Achievement in Gay Theatre. He is a member of The Dramatist Guild and the Evette Society.

Earlier versions of Street Theater and A Perfect Relationship are published by TNT Press (Box 1243 Ansonia Station, New York, NY 10023); Street Theater is also included in the Don Shewey edited anthology Out Front (Grove Press), and are available at Drama Bookshop.