Apr 18, 2014
The Balcony: Jean Genet's Play of the Gay Underworld
Our Lady of the Flowers (1942), written while in prison, is about members of the gay underworld, including the drag queen Divine and the male prostitute Darling, who aspire to an antithesis of the "normal" world, finding honor in betrayal, beauty in "sordid" same-sex acts, and virtue in murder.
His Thief's Journal (1949), written while in prison, suggests that the gay underworld is the antithesis of the "normal" world, finding a trinity of evil "virtues": same-sex acts, theft, and betrayal.
Meanwhile, everyone waits to hear from Roger, the brothel's former plumber, and Chantal, a prostitute who has gone "straight," renounced the sordid underworld and gone off to join the Revolution.
The madam, Irma, falls asleep and dreams of three young men who are wounded and dying, presumably casualties of the revolution -- but then they are revealed to be named Blood, Tears, and Sperm. They are casualties of sex.
The Balcony has been staged many times, sometimes with all-male casts which emphasize the homoeroticism of the shadow world.
Most productions involve semi-nudity, especially from Arthur/The Torturer. In the 2007 performance in Washington D.C., he was played by Rashard Harrison (top), and in the 2013 version directed by Rafael de Musa, by Francesco Andolfi (left).
Columbo Peter Falk as the Chief of Police, future Spock Leonard Nimoy as Roger, and Shelley Winters as Irma.