Suzanne Hotte Massa
Victor Bumbalo, born in Utica, New York, on November 30, 1946, was originally a theater director. He was not satisfied tracking the lives of straight people, so he began writing plays in 1979. In the author’s prefatory note to Niagara Falls and Other Plays (1984), Bumbalo states that “[f]or too long gay men and women have created theatre without ever seeing their lives reflected on stage.” He further states: “I’d like to add…to the continuing creation of our own mythology.” Since then, he has written and published several plays and has just completed a play, Questa. He has written for television—two episodes for NYPD Blue and one for American Gothic—and acted in Martin Scorcese’s film After Hours. Bumbalo says that he enjoys writing plays because he is interested in the interplay between conversation and movement (telephone Interview 30 Mar. 2002).
Bumbalo won the Ingram Merrill Award in 1987 for his body of work, and in 1992 he won an award for the best American short play for Show. He also received the MacDowell Fellowship twice and enjoyed residencies at Yaddo and the Helene Wurlitzer Foundation. After the death, from AIDS, of his friend and fellow playwright Robert Chesley,* Bumbalo established a foundation in his name that annually awards a playwright who writes plays with gay or lesbian themes (telephone Interview 30 Mar. 2002).
Bumbalo’s contribution to gay theater is multifaceted; each play in his body of work conveys a different aspect of gay life. Although all of his plays deal, to some degree, with the issues homosexuals face living in a world dominated by heterosexuals, his works consider most closely three defining themes: coming out, relationship woes, and the effects of AIDS on victims and their loved ones.