Steve Bullitt as Hay and Mitchell Greco as Gernreich

The off-Broadway hit The Temperamentals makes its Houston premiere at the Barnevelder Movement/Arts Complex (2201 Preston) January 19 and runs through February 11. The play, by Jon Marans, explores the events surrounding the founding of the Mattachine Society, one of the first “gay rights” groups in America (although the Society for Human Rights has it beat by a quarter of a century).

The story centers on Harry Hay (Steve Bullitt), a communist and Progressive Party activist and his lover Rudi Gerneich (Mitchell Greco), a Viennese refuge and costume designer. Set in the early 1950’s in Los Angeles, the play is an intimate portrayal of two men who created history and the epic struggle they overcame.

The term “temperamental” is one of those code words from 1950’s gay sub-cultures that has fallen by the wayside, but in its heyday describing one’s bachelor uncle as “temperamental” had a clear meaning. Hay and Gerneich are joined by other luminaries of the day, played by a cast of four actors in multiple parts (Rob Flebbe, John Dunn, and Jeff Dorman).

The  January 19 opening night performance benefits the Houston GLBT Community Center. Tickets are $30 and may be purchased online.