Stage Talk Preview: Bent

Martin Sherman’s 1979 play, Bent, is an exploration of what it means to be human and how we can survive, with our humanity intact, in even the worst conditions. Taking place in Nazi Germany, it follows Max, a gay man thrown into a concentration camp. Threshold Repertory Theatre has taken on the challenge of bringing this powerful story to life and I had the pleasure to get a preview. Give a listen to my backstage interview.

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Patrick Arnheim (Max) – This is Patrick Arnheim’s first production with Threshold Rep. Patrick is a graduate of Circle in the Square Theater School in Manhattan. Patrick was last seen in Derek Ahonen’s The Transcendents at Village Rep on Woolfe. His many thanks to this tireless cast and crew. A special thank you to Jay C. Danner and ALL whom have helped put this show together. He sends his love to Cheese, Brows and Mom.

Randy Risher (Horst) – Randy Risher is so grateful for the opportunity to help tell this beautiful and human story. Randy is wrapping up a Theatre BA at CofC and investigating grad schools. He most recently played Stanley Kowalski in Footlight Players’ production of A Streetcar Named Desire. Local roles include Davis in Red Light Winter and Malcolm in The Full Monty with Footlight Players, Pozzo in Waiting for Godot and Guiteau in Assassins with College of Charleston Department of Theatre and Dance, Patsy in Spamalot and Mitchell in The Little Dog Laughed with Village Repertory Company, Bill in Kate & Sam Are Not Breaking Up and (yep) Bill in The Practice Child with What If Productions, Rooster in Annie and Tateh in Ragtime. Next up is Village Rep at Woolfe Street Playhouse’s production of Rock of Ages. Massive thanks to Jay Danner for entrusting me with this challenging role and for his detailed guidance. Thanks also to Patrick Arnheim for being such a magnetic scene partner. Rock on.


Jay Danner (Director) – Jay is honored be sitting in the directors chair once again in this seasons production of Bent by Martin Sherman at Threshold Rep. Last season at Threshold he directed Tape by Stephen Belber (Theatre Charleston’s Best Director, Best Play and Best Ensemble). He was last seen on stage as John in What If’s Baby With the Bathwater. Jay has also appeared on stage here in Charleston at Threshold in Don’t Cry for Me Margaret Mitchell, Twelfth Night, The Mousetrap, Three Sisters, and Dinner with Friends. Other performances in Charleston include Village Rep’s productions of The Lyons and The Explorers Club and in the Footlight Players productions of Don’t Dress for Dinner, It’s a Wonderful Life and Breaking the Code. In Chicago he was seen in the Oak Park Festival Theatre’s productions of Hamlet and The Tempest, as well as, Bailiwick Repertory’s production of Playing by the Rules. Jay earned his BFA in Theater from Chicago’s Columbia College and continued his training at The La Jolla Playhouse Conservatory and the America Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. Jay would like to thank Brenden Kelly for his support in getting Bent produced.

Director’s Notes – I remember reading Bent as a college student many years ago and feeling an over-whelming sense of sadness for the fate of not only the fictional characters Martin Sherman so beautifully created, but of the thousands of real men branded with the Pink Triangle. That sorrow, however, soon turned to anger. How could history have forgotten the story of so many gay men? It’s impossible to measure the suffering the Nazis perpetrated on the human race, but recognition of all of those who suffered is so important. But this play is much more than a history lesson; it is, above all, a love story, and the journey that our protagonist, Max, takes is told with heart and humor.

When Bent premiered in 1979 very little was known about the Nazis’ persecution of homosexuals, and, in fact, this play helped motivate further research into this dark time. As you watch our show, there will surely be moments that shock you. You may feel the urge to look away or even to leave the theatre. Stay with us. This chapter of human history was not that long ago. When you look at the world today, it is easy to think how far we have come since then. After all, same sex marriage is the law of the land. But between the two world wars, Berlin was a city with unprecedented tolerance with a budding “gay rights” movement. Yet all of that was destroyed when the conservative Nazi movement seized power, and even after the Third Reich was finally destroyed, the laws against homosexuals stood and were enforced until the 1970’s. Throughout the world today, gay and transgender people continue to be discriminated against, attacked, beaten and murdered, but their assailants don’t always wear uniforms. This ongoing injustice is exactly why Bent is so important.

Thank you for being with us tonight. When the lights come up, my hope is that you will realize, now more than ever, the need for more love and humanity in our lives. Every decision you make, every vote you cast has the power to move us forward to a future of tolerance and acceptance or backwards to a past where hate and bigotry reigned.

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