Who was Terrence McNally?
"Terrence McNally was a five-time Tony award winning playwright, librettist, and LGBTQ trailblazer, described by the New York Times as “the bard of the American Theater.” In a professional career that spanned six decades, Terrence’s work investigated the enduring bonds of friendship and love, the transcendent nature of beauty and art, and the urgent human need to connect. Among the first playwrights to openly depict queer life on the Broadway stage, Terrence became one of the most important chroniclers of the AIDS epidemic with plays like Love! Valour! Compassion!, Lips Together, Teeth Apart and Andre’s Mother — now modern classics. A fearless innovator, even late into his career, Terrence followed up a streak of four Tony awards in five years with the controversial and open-hearted Corpus Christi. Terrence believed deeply in the power of education and educators, specifically citing his own public high school English teacher, Mrs. McElroy, as one of the most important influences in his life. He invested much of his time sharing his wisdom and expertise with the next generation of theater-makers, becoming a mentor to many aspiring writers, actors, and directors, including Bay County’s very own Matthew Lopez.
The Terrence McNally Foundation is proud to partner with Matthew Lopez to further Terrence’s legacy of mentorship and encourages recipients to engage rigorously in their studies and allow their education to transport and transform them."
"When I was new to New York and uncertain about what path I wanted to take in my life, I found myself in the fortunate position of being hired as Terrence McNally’s assistant on a workshop of a new musical he was developing. In exchange for my services, Terrence agreed to read one of my plays. True to his word, he read the play I sent him within days of the workshop’s end. He then called me and left a nearly seven-minute voicemail on my phone praising the play, critiquing the play, examining the play. At the end of the voicemail, he said, “you asked me if I think you are a writer. Well, congratulations—you are a writer. Now keep writing.” That voicemail changed my life. Terrence changed my life. Over the years, he continue to give me his unvarnished opinion, his tough love, and his honest critiques of my creations. He believed in my talents and encouraged me to push them to their ultimate expressions. I am very happy to inaugurate this scholarship in his name to help the next generation of writers find their voices and their paths in life, just as Terrence did for me so many years ago.