Michael R. Schiavi
Born David Drakula on June 27, 1963, in Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, David Drake grew up in Baltimore, Maryland. A performer from age ten, Drake comments that he actually “grew up onstage,” where he “found [he] could be the most free to express [him]self|…. [T]heatre is where [he] learned to open [his] imagination.” 1 When he began writing many years later, he noticed that his work had an “educational” bent that he attributes to being the son of two teachers.
A self-described “musical-comedy kid,” seventeen-year-old Drake had performed in twenty-five musicals when he moved to New York and began to study acting at HB Studio. His mother’s death in a car accident brought him back to Baltimore, where he briefly attended Essex Community College. Drake returned to New York two years later and, playing his first gay character, made his off-Broadway debut in a 1984 revival of Doric Wilson’s* Street Theater. Over the next several years Drake appeared in such off-Broadway successes as Vampire Lesbians of Sodom (1986) and Pageant (1991).
Drake’s commitment to gay and AIDS activism was galvanized by seeing Larry Kramer’s* play The Normal Heart (1985), which Drake credits as the “opening of [his] consciousness as a politically motivated gay man” (Kelly 53). While pursuing his acting career, Drake got involved with the activist groups Queer Nation and ACT UP, where he found himself surrounded by doctors, lawyers, and scholars volunteering their expertise for the cause. Pondering how he might apply his own “energy to the [queer] story,” Drake realized that as a performer he “could put [queer issues] onstage” and engage them in the “civic dialogue” that he considers theater’s principal purpose.
In the summer of 1990, he began to write the vignettes that would comprise