New Books Network

Sean F. Edgecomb

Charles Ludlam Lives!

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

University of Michigan Press 2017

New Books in American StudiesNew Books in Arts & LettersNew Books in Gender StudiesNew Books in Peoples & PlacesNew Books in Performing ArtsNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books Network May 8, 2020 Toney Brown

Playwright, actor, and director Charles Ludlam (1943-87) helped to galvanize the Ridiculous style of theater in New York City starting in the 1960s. Decades...

Playwright, actor, and director Charles Ludlam (1943-87) 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 the 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 Mace 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!: Charles Busch, Bradford Louryk, Taylor Mac and the Queer Legacy of the Ridiculous Theatrical Company (University of Michigan Press, 2017) 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.


Originally from the North Shore in Massachusetts, Toney Brown is a theater director/performer in New York City. He studied Theater Arts at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. In NYC, was a Performance Project Fellow at the University Settlement and adapted Harmony Korine’s A Crack Up at the Race Riots at Theater for a New City’s Dream Up Festival. In addition, he was worked extensively with the director Dennis Yueh-yeh Li adapting King Lear, assistant directed Maeterlinck’s The Blind, and performing in his production of Albert Camus’ Caligula (Chaerea) as part of the New Ohio Theater’s Producers Club Festival. When he is not podcasting on NBN, he hosts NYTF Radio, a podcast exploring the history of Yiddish Theatre for the National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, available on all platforms. He is an enthusiastic cinephile and avid Red Sox fan.