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A Punk-Rock Play at BPT

Melinda Lopez’s Gary sets family strife to music


During her youth in suburban Bedford, Mass., in the late 1970s, playwright Melinda Lopez (GRS’00), felt stifled, like she didn’t belong. The popular music of that time was polished, and, to her, represented conformity. “It seemed like if you turned on the radio,” says Lopez, “everything you heard was the same.” But when WBCN, a Boston radio station, started playing local bands such as Mission of Burma, Lyres, Willie Alexander & the Boom Boom Band, and La Peste — who, according to Lopez “talked about things that meant something” — she found hope. “It finally felt like something was happening,” she says.

Gary, Lopez’s new play at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, pairs the music and atmosphere of the era with a dark story about a dysfunctional family dealing with incest and rape. Lopez worked with a punk composer to create an original soundtrack for the play, and the actors were trained to play instruments. The characters deal with tragedy, Lopez says, and music is their conduit for change. “You can create something beautiful out of trash, out of the train wreck that your life is,” she says, “and that’s what [my character] does. He turns all of that into music.”

Gary is playing Thursdays through Sundays through March 16 at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre, 949 Commonwealth Ave., Boston. Performances are at 7:30 p.m. on Thursdays, 8 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays, and 2 p.m. on Sundays. Tickets can be purchased online, by phone at 866-811-4111, or one hour prior to each performance at the Boston Playwrights’ Theatre box office.

Robin Berghaus can be reached at berghaus@bu.edu.

Thumbnail photo by Michael Block

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