The Last Word is currently on stage in Pittsburgh.
Quentin Crisp: The Last Word, a new play adapted from the posthumously published autobiography of author and icon Quentin Crisp, will have its world premiere at the Hamburg Studio of Pittsburgh’s City Theatre for eight performances, February 6th through 16th, 2020.
Quentin Crisp first rose to global notoriety with the publication of his 1968 autobiography, The Naked Civil Servant, detailing his years in London as a nude model and a flagrantly unapologetic homosexual during a time when it was forbidden by law.
Living as a resident alien in New York City during the 1980s, he became a champion of outsider artists including the likes of Sting and Andy Warhol, was frequently sought after for late-night talk show appearances, and empowered audiences with his one-man-show expounding his forthright views on current affairs, social manners, and personal style.
Shortly before his death in 1999, Crisp dictated his final autobiography to author and colleague Phillip Ward. Ward, who is also the executor of Quentin Crisp’s estate, published the autobiography The Last Word: An Autobiography in 2017. To commemorate the 20th anniversary of Crisp’s passing, Ward began work on extracting a new stage play from the autobiography, in which Crisp is at his most candid, sharing never-before-heard insights from his past and the revelation that at age 90 he was in fact not homosexual, but rather transgender.
Performer, playwright, and long-time Crisp aficionado Brian Edward has been selected by the estate of Quentin Crisp to collaborate on the development of the script and to portray Quentin Crisp in the stage premiere. Edward is the creator of the critically acclaimed musical comedy Amish Burlesque, and was named among the top leading actors of 2002 by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. He is also the host of Burgh Vivant, Pittsburgh’s arts and culture talk program.
Within the last two decades, there have been several plays and cabarets staged with Quentin Crisp as the subject. However, Quentin Crisp: The Last Word is the only stage work authorised by and produced in cooperation with the Quentin Crisp Estate. It is also the only such work comprised entirely of Crisp’s own words.
“The play itself allows Quentin’s wisdom and wit to reach us much in the same way they did through his books and through his own award-winning one-man show. It’s like a TED Talk on how to live; applicable, appealing, and important to all.” – Phillip Ward
Ward, who resides in New York City where he serves as Director of The Quentin Crisp Archives, will participate in an on-stage Q & A session following each Sunday matinee performance, and will also be available for book signings after Thursday, Friday, and Saturday shows. Also, the grandniece of Quentin Crisp, Michèle Goycoolea Pratt will be joining Phillip Ward and Brian Edward for the post-show Talkback Q&A session of the 2pm February 16th performance of Quentin Crisp: The Last Word.
Quentin Crisp: The Last Word directed by Spence Whale premieres at the Hamburg Studio of City Theatre, 1300 Bingham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15203, with performances running Thursdays through Sundays, currently and through to 16th, February 2020. Tickets are currently on sale and can be purchased visiting www.crisperanto.org.
The life of Quentin
Quentin Crisp (1908–1999) is the author of the classic, flamboyantly eccentric coming-of-age memoir The Naked Civil Servant, the award-winning film version of which, starring John Hurt, made him an instant international celebrity. Crisp wrote numerous books and articles about his life and his opinions on style, fashion, and the movies, often hailed as the 20th-century Oscar Wilde for his famous aphoristic witticisms.
He performed his one-man show, An Evening with Quentin Crisp, to acclaim in theatres around the world, spreading his unique philosophy on how to live a happy life. With his calculated caustic words, open homosexuality and wittily provocative attitude toward any kind of conventionality, Crisp caused a stir in conservative England during the 1950s and 1960s, and even on through the 1970s.
In 1981, he moved to New York City, where he became “the face of a modern rebel.” Throughout his near twenty-year tenure in Manhattan, Mr. Crisp wrote a variety of books, reviews, and appeared in several movies, most notably playing Queen Elizabeth I in Sally Ann Potter’s Orlando. Quentin Crisp died on the eve of touring his one-man show in Manchester, England, on November 21st, 1999.
City Theatre’s Lester Hamburg Studio, 1300 Bingham Street | Pittsburgh, PA, until February 16th.
John Hurt as Quentin Crisp in Thames Television’s The Naked Civil Servant drama.