Terrence McNally

Terrence McNally

Past Event: Monday, January 24, 2005

At Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

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Literary Arts

Sponsored by Stoel Rives, LLP.

Growing up in Corpus Christi, Texas, playwright Terrence McNally escaped a lonely childhood by immersing himself in radio dramas such as The Green Hornet and live broadcasts of the Metropolitan Opera. He even constructed a miniature model of the opera and manipulated scenes on the stage that, he later recalled, “was more real than life.” More than two dozen plays—and stages—later, a larger than life-size career has emerged from McNally’s early imaginings. He is the author of such renowned plays as Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (1987), which he adapted into a major motion picture, and Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994), which won a Tony Award for Best Play in 1995. The Nation called it “a remarkably Chekovian work—which is to say vital and capacious, extremely natural yet poetic and crafted at the same time.”

Over the years, McNally’s plays have been described as satiric and darkly comic, but more recently they have also come to be appreciated as compassionate, lyrical, and life-affirming. As actress Swoosie Kurtz, who has appeared in his plays, has said, “he shapes the opera of the human heart.” In addition to two Tony Awards for Best Play, McNally has also been the recipient of two Guggenheim fellowships and numerous OBIE awards. He lives in New York City.

Excerpt from Master Class (1995)
Maria: No applause. We’re here to work. You’re not in a theatre. This is a classroom. No folderol. This is a master class. Singing is serious business. We’re going to roll up our sleeves and work. I appreciate your welcome, but enough is enough. Basta. Fini. Eh?

So. How is everyone? Can you hear me? I don’t believe in microphones. Singing is first of all about projection. So is speech. People are forgetting how to listen. They want everything blasted at them. Listening takes concentration. If you can’t hear me, it’s your fault. You’re not concentrating. I don’t get any louder than this. So come down closer or leave. No takers? What? You’re all scared of me? Eh? Is that it? I don’t bite. I promise you. I bark—I bark quite a bit actually—but I don’t bite. I don’t know what you’re expecting. What did they tell you? I hope you’re not expecting me to sing. Well, we shall see what we shall see.

Allora, so, let’s begin. Where is the first student? Who is the first student? Are they here? When I was a student, I never missed a lesson. Never. Not once. I was never late for one either. In fact, I was usually early. I never wanted to leave the conservatory. I lived, ate, and slept music. Music is a discipline. Too many of you are looking for the easy way out. Short cuts. No. If you want to have a career, as I did—and I’m not boasting now, I am not one to boast—you must be willing to subjugate yourself—is that a word?—subjugate yourself to the music. Always the music. You are its servant. You are here to serve the composer. The composer is God. In Athens, and this was during the war, I often went to bed hungry, but I walked to the conservatory and back every day, six days a week, and sometimes my feet were bleeding because I had no proper shoes. I don’t tell you this to melodramatize. Oh no. I tell you to show you who I am. Discipline. Courage. Here. Right here. From the guts.

Selected WorkCorpus Christi (1997)Master Class (1995) Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994) Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992) Lips Together, Teeth Apart (1991) Andre’s Mother (1990)The Lisbon Traviata (1989) Frankie and Johnny at the Claire de Lune (1987) The Ritz (1975) Next (1969)

LinksOnline Interview

Terrence McNally on the making of Dead Man Walking

Article, “The Amazing McNally”

Event Details

Benaroya Hall — S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium

200 University Street
Seattle, WA 98101

View directions.

Transportation & Parking

This event will be held in the S. Mark Taper Foundation Auditorium, the largest event space at Benaroya Hall. 

Benaroya Hall is located at 200 University Street, directly across Second Avenue from the Seattle Art Museum. The public entrance to Benaroya Hall is along Third Avenue.

  • From Southbound I-5
    Take the Union Street exit (#165B). Continue onto Union Street and proceed approximately five blocks to Second Avenue. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound I-5
    Exit left onto Seneca Street (exit #165). Proceed two blocks and turn right onto Fourth Avenue. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Union Street. Continue two blocks. Turn left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Northbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Seneca Street exit and move into the left lane. Turn left onto First Avenue and proceed one block. Take the next right (at the Hammering Man sculpture) onto University Street. Continue up the hill two blocks to Third Avenue. Turn left onto Third Avenue. Continue to the next block and turn left onto Union Street. Make the next left onto Second Avenue. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your immediate left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.
  • From Southbound Highway 99 (Aurora Avenue)
    Take the Denny Way/Downtown exit. Keep right and cross over Denny Way onto Wall Street. Proceed approximately five blocks and turn left onto Second Avenue. Continue south on Second Avenue approximately eight blocks. The Benaroya Hall parking garage will be on your left. The garage entrance is on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street.

By Bus
Benaroya Hall is served by numerous bus routes. Digital reader boards along Third Avenue display real-time bus arrival information. For details and trip planning tools, call Metro Rider Information at 206.553.3000 (voice) or 206.684.1739 (TDD), or visit Metro online. The Downtown Seattle Transit Tunnel, served by bus and light rail, has a stop just below the Hall (University Street Station).

Parking
The 430-car underground garage at Benaroya Hall provides direct access from the enclosed parking area into the Hall via elevators leading to The Boeing Company Gallery. Enter the garage on Second Avenue, just south of Union Street. Maximum vehicle height is 6’8″. Blink charging stations are available for electric vehicles. The event rate is $16.

Parking is also available at:

  • The Cobb Building (enter on University Street between Third and Fourth avenues).
  • The Russell Investments Center (enter on Union Street between First and Second avenues).
  • There are many other garages within a one-block radius of Benaroya Hall, along with numerous on-street parking options.

Accessibility

All of our venues have accessible seating and listening devices available. Please contact us at sal@lectures.org or 206.621.2230 x10 for more details and to let us know you’re coming so we can better accommodate your needs.