This month, I have the honor of speaking after a performance of a new stage adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s novel, A Single Man. The play is by Simon Reade, directed by Philip Wilson, and produced by Troupe in association with Park Theatre.
My talk, after the October 25 performance, is called “An Englishman in California.” Long before Sting sang about being a legal alien, “An Englishman in New York,” Isherwood saw himself as an outsider in Los Angeles. He recognized and cultivated a distance from his SoCal surroundings. He claimed it gave him a unique vantage point to understand and write about life as a gay Englishman in the United States.
A Single Man traces a day in the life of a middle-aged Englishman, working as a professor of literature at a state college in Los Angeles, who is grieving the loss of his partner. In my talk, I’ll discuss how the novel is a meditation on middle age. (Isherwood was fifty-eight when he started writing it in 1962, and I am fifty-eight now!) I’ll also discuss what it was like to be gay in the early 1960s and the reaction to the book by gay male readers. Finally, I’ll look at Isherwood’s diaries and lectures (published by the University of Minnesota Press as Isherwood on Writing) to see what he was thinking about while he wrote the novel and what he thought of it when it was published.
Additionally, I am facilitating a post-performance talk with the director and cast on October 24.
I hope to see you there!