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Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life (American Masters, PBS) … Career of Playwright & LGBTQ Activist Examined

June 14 @ 9:00 pm - 11:00 pm

American Masters explores the six-decade career of playwright and LGBTQ activist Terrence McNally in the new documentary Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life, premiering nationwide Friday, June 14 at 9 p.m. on PBS (check local listings), in honor of LGBT Pride Month.

F. Murray Abraham, Audra McDonald, Christine Baranski, Edie Falco, Nathan Lane, Angela Lansbury, Rita Moreno and others weigh in on the pioneering playwright’s influential career, and speak frankly of his struggles as well as his monumental successes. The voices of Dan Bucatinsky, Bryan Cranston and Meryl Streep are also featured.

Intimate conversations with McNally complete this essential portrait of a leading voice in contemporary theater. McNally is a four-time Tony winner, and will receive a Special Tony Award for Lifetime Achievement in the Theatre at the 2019 awards.

Watch a preview below:

From his troubled beginnings in Corpus Christi, Texas to his college years in New York City, from dating legendary playwright Edward Albee to traveling the world as the tutor to John Steinbeck’s children and having his first Broadway play, And Things That Go Bump in the Night, flop at age 24, American Masters – Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life traces McNally’s personal and professional successes, struggles and failures. Over the course of his six-decade career, he has written trailblazing plays, musicals, operas and screenplays about sexuality, homophobia, faith, the power of art, the need to connect and finding meaning in every moment of life, including Next (1969), The Ritz (1975), Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (1982), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992), Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994), Master Class (1995), Ragtime (1996), Dead Man Walking (2000), The Full Monty (2000) and Mothers and Sons (2014).

Rising above challenges, including his abusive alcoholic parents and growing up as a gay teen in a conservative Christian town, McNally overcame his own alcoholism (sparked by Angela Lansbury’s intervention), the deaths of friends and lovers to AIDS and cancer, including fellow playwright Wendy Wasserstein, and his own brutal fight with lung cancer. An outspoken champion of marriage equality and LGBTQ rights, he faced violent protests over his controversial play Corpus Christi (1998) – a gay, modern-day retelling of the story of Jesus – and found lasting love with his now-husband, producer-lawyer Tom Kirdahy.

“The stakes are really high now, higher than ever. We need to bring barriers down, not build walls. We need to love one another more and see how connected we really are. I think that’s the message of art,” says McNally.

Every Act of Life had its world premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival and has shown at more than 50 film festivals around the world, garnering numerous Best Documentary and Audience Awards.

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