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Brad Fraser (born June 28, 1959 in Edmonton, Alberta) is a Canadian playwright, screenwriter and cultural commentator. He is one of the most widely produced Canadian playwrights both in Canada and internationally. Fraser's plays typically feature a harsh yet comical view of contemporary life in Canada, including frank depictions of sexuality, drug use and violence. His work consistently inspires controversy, and his outspoken opinions have made him a media personality, especially for his criticism of the gay press and of theater critics.
Fraser first came to his prominence as a playwright with Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love, an episodically structured play about a group of thirtysomethings trying to find their way through life in Edmonton, Alberta, while the city is haunted by a serial killer. It was a hit at the Alberta Theatre Projects' playRites '89, and numerous highly acclaimed productions followed, including tremendously popular productions in Toronto and Chicago. The play was named one of the 10 Best Plays of 1992 by TIME.
While the New York production of Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love attracted significant attention, Fraser has not directed his career toward New York. Indeed, his next script, Poor Super Man, had its premiere in Cincinnati, Ohio. Coming three years after the 1991 Robert Mapplethorpe controversy in Cincinnati, Poor Super Man inspired international headlines when the board of directors of Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati temporarily canceled the production because of its anticipated obscenity. After a public outcry, the production was reinstated. Poor Super Man opened without incident and played to considerable acclaim. The play employed the innovative device of projecting captions onto the proscenium, commenting on the action and expressing the private thoughts of the characters. It was named one of the 10 Best Plays of 1994 by TIME.
Fraser's plays frequently refer to earlier works, as characters and incidents from one play will make an appearance or receive mention in a subsequent work. The David character of Unidentified Human Remains, for example, reappears in Poor Super Man, and Matt, the central character of Poor Super Man, reappears in Martin Yesterday, and so forth.
Fraser has been especially successful in the U.K., where his work has enjoyed both critical and popular success, beginning with London's Evening Standard Award for Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love in 1993. Fraser's work references heavily typical popular culture, especially comic books, horror films and primetime television, and is often more highly valued in retrospect than when it first opens. Typical of this would be a reappraisal by Porter Anderson, theater columnist for New York's Village Voice, who conceded that Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love was "under-rated during its 1991 run at the Orpheum", and that the play "had a grunge sensuality that could seduce a young audience to live theatre" and a "slasher plot [that] ripped away at the exhausted cynicism of alienated Canadian youths."
In addition to his theatre work, Fraser has written two films, Love and Human Remains based on his play "Unidentified Human Remains..." and Leaving Metropolis, both adaptations of his plays. He has also written for the television series Queer as Folk, was host of his own Toronto-based television talk show, Jawbreaker, and for a period of time wrote a biweekly column for the Canadian gay magazine fab.
A musical production of "Wolfboy" came later.
Plays and performances
- Wolfboy (1981) - his first play that brought him initial attention in Edmonton. A musical adaptation came later.
- "Wolfboy" - 1985 - Toronto stage production at Theatre Passe Muraille with Keanu Reeves
- "Wolfboy" - 1999 - First UK production by State of Unrest TC at the Finborough Theatre with Merryn Owen & Stephen Hudson. Dir. Jake Murray
- Chainsaw Love (1985) Edmonton Fringe Festival
- Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love (1989)
- Calgary (1989) world premiere at the Alberta Theatre Projects' playRites '89 festival
- Edmonton (1990) Workshop West Theatre, directed by Brad Fraser
- Toronto (1990)
- Chicago, (1991) Wisdom Bridge Theatre, directed by Derek Goldby
- New York (1991) directed by Derek Goldby
- New Theatre, Sydney (1994) directed by Stuart Katzen
- London (2006), Warehouse Theatre (Croydon), directed by Dominic Leclerc
- São Paulo (2008), Espaço dos Satyros, directed by Marco Antonio Pamio
- Cincinnati (2010) Studio 307 Series, directed by Casey Snipes.
- Edmonton (2010) Studio Theatre, directed by John Kirkpatrick
- The Ugly Man (1990)
- Poor Super Man (1994)
- Cincinnati, Ensemble Theatre of Cincinnati, (1994)
- Edmonton (1994) Workshop West Theatre and Theatre Network, directed by Brad Fraser
- Buffalo, Buffalo United Artists,(1994)
- Edinburgh, (1994)
- London, Hampstead Theatre, (1994)
- Washington, D.C., Signature Theatre, (1995)
- Toronto, Canadian Stage, (1995)
- Montreal, Théâtre de Quat'sous, (1995)
- Sydney Theatre Company (1995) directed by David Berthold.
- New Theatre, Sydney (1999) directed by Stuart Katzen
- São Paulo, Centro Cultural São Paulo (2000) directed by Sergio Ferrara (awarded best director by APCA - São Paulo Arts Critics Association - one of Brazil's main theatre prizes)
- Martin Yesterday (1998)
- Outrageous, (2000, musical with composer Joey Miller) Canadian Stage Company
- Snake in Fridge (2001) Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, directed by Braham Murray
- San Francisco, Actors' Theatre of San Francisco (2001) directed by Christian Phillips
- Cold Meat Party (2003) Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester, directed by Braham Murray,
- Toronto, Factory theatre, (2004) directed by Braham Murray,
- True Love Lies (2009)
- Royal Exchange Theatre, Manchester (2009)
- Factory Theatre, Toronto (2009) directed by Brad Fraser
- 5 @ 50 (2011)