Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life

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Every Act of Life
Every Act of Life poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byJeff Kaufman
Written byJeff Kaufman
Produced byJeff Kaufman
Marcia Ross
StarringF. Murray Abraham
Christine Baranski
Nathan Lane
Angela Lansbury
Audra McDonald
Terrence McNally
Rita Moreno
Chita Rivera
CinematographyJordan Black
Autumn Eakin
Anthony Lucido
Edited byAsher Bingham
Music byLaura Karpman
Nora Kroll-Rosenbaum
Floating World Pictures
Distributed byThe Orchard
Release date
  • April 23, 2018 (2018-04-23) (Tribeca)
Running time
92 minutes
CountryUnited States

Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life is a 2018 documentary film about playwright Terrence McNally. It was directed, produced and written by Jeff Kaufman, and produced by Marcia S. Ross. It premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2018.[1] It will be distributed by The Orchard in November 2018. An expanded and illustrated version of the script will be published by Smith and Kraus in October 2018.[2] Terrence McNally: Every Act of Life aired June 14, 2019 on PBS’ “American Masters.”[3]


Every Act Of Life is a documentary that profiles four-time Tony-winning playwright Terrence McNally's six ground-breaking decades in the theatre, the fight for LGBTQ rights, triumph over addiction, the pursuit of love, and inspiration at every age, and the power of the arts to transform society.

The son of an alcoholic beer distributor in southern Texas, Terrence McNally graduated from Columbia in 1960, traveled the world as tutor to John Steinbeck's children (Steinbeck's only advice was, "Don't write for the theater. It will break your heart”); suffered an infamous Broadway flop in 1965 at age 24; and went on to write dozens of groundbreaking plays and musicals about sexuality, homophobia, faith, the power of art, the need to connect, and finding meaning in every moment of life. Six-time Tony-winning actress Audra McDonald said, “Terrence gets to the truth in a way that makes you laugh and cry in all different areas – musical theatre and plays. I defy you to name another playwright who can do that. You cannot tell the history of American theatre without celebrating his life and work.” Attorney and LGBTQ activist Roberta Kaplan said, “Terrence started so early to show Americans who gay people are. He did it before anyone else. He did it better than anyone else.” McNally had long relationships with playwrights Edward Albee and Wendy Wasserstein; lost a lover and many friends to AIDS; stopped drinking through the intervention of Angela Lansbury; helped launch the careers of Nathan Lane, F. Murray Abraham, Audra McDonald, Doris Roberts, Patrick Wilson, and Joe Mantello; was an early champion of marriage equality and faced violent protests for his play Corpus Christi; survived Stage 3 lung cancer; and married theatre producer Tom Kirdahy.

Terrence's plays, musicals, operas, and screenplays include: And Things That Go Bump in the Night (1964), Next (1969), Bad Habits (1974), The Ritz (1975), Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune (1982), It's Only a Play (1986/2014), Andre's Mother (1990), The Lisbon Traviata (1989), Lips Together, Teeth Apart (1991), Kiss of the Spider Woman (1992), A Perfect Ganesh (1993), Love! Valour! Compassion! (1994), Master Class (1995), Ragtime (1996), Corpus Christi (1998), Dead Man Walking (2000), The Full Monty (2000), Mothers and Sons (2014), and Anastasia (2017).




Every Act Of Life won the Freedom Award and Best Documentary at FilmOut San Diego,[5] and Best Documentary and the Audience Award at the Connecticut LGBT Film Festival.[6] It has also screened at dozens of other film festivals. The Village Voice review of the film said, “I wasn’t prepared for the emotional release of Every Act of Life (written and directed by Jeff Kaufman), a wonderful documentary on the prolific playwright Terrence McNally. McNally’s life has the sweep of an epic novel, except that the novel’s inevitable movie version could never have as much star power as his life did.”[7] The Hollywood Reporter review said, “Terrence McNally receives a warm salute as a vital voice in the American theater and an LGBT activist who made the personal political. Jeff Kaufman's briskly entertaining film will be met with heartfelt applause from theater-lovers and LGBT audiences.”[8] Every Act of Life had its premiere at the Tribeca Film Festival (NYC) on April 23, 2018. The premiere included a post-screening discussion moderated by Frank Rich. The panelists included Terrence McNally, Jeff Kaufman, F. Murray Abraham, Tyne Daly, Nathan Lane, and Joe Mantello.[1]



  1. ^ a b c "Every Act of Life | 2018 Tribeca Film Festival". Tribeca. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  2. ^ "Illustrated Screenplay for Terrence McNally Documentary Every Act of Life to Be Published | Playbill". Playbill. 2018-04-30. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  3. ^ McNulty, Charles (2019-06-13). "Review: PBS documentary of playwright Terrence McNally celebrates a master of connection". latimes.com. Retrieved 2019-07-10.
  4. ^ Every Act of Life (2018), retrieved 2018-07-29
  5. ^ a b Diego, FilmOut San. "FilmOut San Diego Sponsors". www.filmoutsandiego.com. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  6. ^ a b "31st Festival Awards – Out Film CT – Connecticut's LGBT Film Festival". outfilmct.org. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  7. ^ "Four Movies at the Tribeca Film Festival That Don't Pretend". The Village Voice.
  8. ^ "'Every Act of Life': Film Review | Provincetown 2018". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  9. ^ "Every Act Of Life". aGLIFF. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  10. ^ "CinemaQ 2018: Every Act Of Life | Denver Film Society | Jeff Kaufman | USA". secure.denverfilm.org. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  11. ^ "Every Act of Life". www.frameline.org. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  12. ^ "GAZE LGBT Film Festival - Welcome | Every Act of Life". GAZE LGBT Film Festival - Welcome. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  13. ^ "Every Act of Life | 2018 Inside Out Toronto LGBT Film Festival". www.insideout.ca. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  14. ^ "NashFilm Announces 2018 Feature Films Lineup for Narrative, Documentary, New Directors & Graveyard Shift Competitions - Nashville Film Festival". Nashville Film Festival. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  15. ^ "Every Act of Life | Carolina Theatre - Downtown Durham, North Carolina". www.carolinatheatre.org. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  16. ^ "Outfest Los Angeles". Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  17. ^ "Every Act of Life - Sunday, June 24 - 1:30pm". OUT HERE NOW: Kansas City LGBT Film Festival. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  18. ^ "Vancouver Queer Film Festival | Every Act of Life". queerfilmfestival.ca. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  19. ^ "OUTshine Film Festival - EVERY ACT OF LIFE". mifofilm.com. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  20. ^ "Every Act of Life". Provincetown Film Festival. 2018-05-16. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  21. ^ Festival, QDoc Film. "2018 | QDoc Film Festival". QDoc Film Festival. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  22. ^ "Every Act of Life". www.siff.net. Retrieved 2018-07-29.
  23. ^ "Every Act of Life | TLVFest". tlvfest.com. Retrieved 2018-07-29.

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