"charles ludlam in galas"

Published November 25, 1983


Charles Ludlam in Galas (11/25/83)



A comic master, a playwright with an original voice and an actor of blazing magnetism, Charles Ludlam’s role as the creator and driving force behind the Ridiculous Theatrical Company places him in the direct line of the great actor-managers of the past.  One of the first major cultural figures lost to AIDS, Ludlam has inspired and influenced many writers and performers.  I certainly owe him an enormous debt. Hirschfeld captures the intensity and beauty of Charles Ludlam’s performance as a Maria Callas-like opera diva in his 1983 play Galas. Ludlam is often simplistically described as a drag performer, when, out of the twenty-nine plays that he wrote and appeared in, only five times did he play a female character.  Hirschfeld’s drawing manages to convey the strange miracle of Ludlam’s approach to playing a female role. Charles’s art was not about creating a perfect visual illusion of womanliness; his low cut decolletage in Camille revealed a hairy chest. His acting skill, charisma and comic virtuosity made you believe his stage heroines were great beauties.

Charles Busch

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