University of South Carolina

From left, William Vaughn, Jake Mesches in USC production of
From left, William Vaughn, Jake Mesches in USC production of "Bent."

‘Bent’ a look at homosexual rights during WWII

The University of South Carolina’s Lab Theater will produce “Bent,” a play that enlightens audiences about the struggles of gays in Germany during Hitler’s rule.

“Bent” will be performed Nov. 18-21 at the Lab Theater at 1400 Wheat St.

Showtimes are 8 p.m. nightly, and tickets are $5 at the door.

Directed by Robert Richmond, associate professor of theater, “Bent” follows Max, a promiscuous gay man in 1930s Berlin, who is at odds with his wealthy family because of his homosexuality. As the play unfolds, Max and his boyfriend are taken to a concentration camp by Nazi soldiers and undergo an emotional journey about commitment, survival and the struggles of gay Germans during the Holocaust.

Richmond earned accolades from The Washington Post and other Washington, D.C. media for his directing of Henry VIII at the Folger Shakespeare Theatre in Washington.

The play’s title refers to the slang word for homosexuals used in some European countries. When the play was first performed in 1979, very little historical data, or even awareness, existed regarding Nazi persecution of homosexuals.

Martin Sherman's play took London by storm when it was first performed by the Royal Court Theatre.

“It educated the world,” Sherman said. “People knew about how the Third Reich treated Jews and, to some extent, gypsies and political prisoners, but very little had come out about their treatment of homosexuals.”

Gays were arrested and interned at work camps prior to the genocide of Jews, gypsies and the handicapped and continued to be imprisoned even after the fall of the Third Reich and liberation of the camps. The play highlights the reason why: a largely ignored German law, Paragraph 175, making homosexuality a criminal offense, which Hitler reactivated and strengthened during his rise to power.

For more information about this and other Lab Theater or Theater South Carolina productions, contact Kevin Bush at 803-777-9353 or

By Office of Media Relations

Posted: 11/10/10 @ 4:50 PM | Updated: 11/11/10 @ 2:06 PM | Permalink


  • What: Play about struggles of gays in Germany during Hitler’s rule
  • When: Nov. 18-21, 8 p.m.
  • Where: Lab Theater, 1400 Wheat St

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