Charles Ludlam Lives!

Charles Busch, Bradford Louryk, Taylor Mac, and the Queer Legacy of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company

Subjects: Theater and Performance, Sexuality Studies, American Studies
Hardcover : 9780472073559, 246 pages, 7 illustrations, 6 x 9, June 2017
Open Access : 9780472904051, 246 pages, 7 illustrations, 6 x 9, June 2023
Audiobook : 9780472003976, 246 pages, 6 x 9, May 2021
Paperback : 9780472053551, 246 pages, 7 illustrations, 6 x 9, June 2017

This open-access version is made available with the support of Big Ten Academic Alliance member libraries.
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Explores the enduring queer legacy of playwright, actor, and director Charles Ludlam


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Playwright, actor and director Charles Ludlam (1943–1987) helped to galvanize the Ridiculous style of theater in New York City starting in the 1960s.  Decades after his death, his place in the chronicle of American theater has remained constant, but his influence has changed.  Although his Ridiculous Theatrical Company shut its doors, the Ludlamesque Ridiculous has continued to thrive and remain a groundbreaking genre, maintaining its relevance and potency by metamorphosing along with changes in the LGBTQ community.  
Author Sean F. Edgecomb focuses on the neo-Ridiculous artists Charles Busch, Bradford Louryk, and Taylor Mac to trace the connections between Ludlam’s legacy and their performances, using alternative queer models such as kinetic kinship, lateral historiography, and a new approach to camp. Charles Ludlam Lives! demonstrates that the queer legacy of Ludlam is one of distinct transformation—one where artists can reject faithful interpretations in order to move in new interpretive directions.


Sean F. Edgecomb is Assistant Professor of Theatre, College of Staten Island, City University of New York.


 “Sean Edgecomb thinks beyond pre- and post-Stonewall definitions of camp (without neglecting their significance) to argue that camp not only persists but remains a relevant tactic of transformational queer performance. Charles Ludlam Lives! is a smart, beautifully written book that will make a lasting contribution to gay and lesbian performance history.”
—Shane Vogel, Indiana University


 “Charles Ludlam would be thrilled—just as he toyed with and overturned the conventions of popular theatre, this book playfully and brilliantly queers performance scholarship in its exploration of Ridiculous legacies. Edgecomb’s research is adventurous, and the writing is lively and compelling. Most importantly, the central figures, Charles Ludlam, Charles Busch, Bradford Louryk, and Taylor Mac, receive the full diva treatment they deserve.”
—James Wilson, LaGuardia Community College, CUNY


Read: Taylor Mac (covered in Charles Ludlam Lives) discussed in the New York Times (Link) | 9/14/2016