Out but not “Safe”: Baseball, Assimilation, and Homosexuality in Richard Greenberg’s ‘Take Me Out’

By David Jortner.

Published by The Sport Collection

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

In the opening moments of Richard Greenberg’s 2002 play ‘Take Me Out’, the main character, Darren Lemming, a star center fielder for the fictional New York Empires baseball club, makes the matter of fact announcement that he is gay. This revelation provides the basis for the play’s dramatic action, as Greenberg uses this scenario to delve into the multiple meanings of baseball, identity, and sexual orientation. The play, which won several major awards (including a 2003 Tony), remains popular among regional and university theatres; it presents a “safe” image of homosexuality to its heteronormative audience through the nostalgic lens of baseball. In this paper I will examine how Greenberg plays with the narrative and cultural tropes of baseball while simultaneously undercutting his original premise and reinforcing both gay stereotypes and heterosexual fears of gays in sport.

Keywords: Theatre, Baseball, Homosexuality, Nationalism

The International Journal of Sport and Society, Volume 1, Issue 3, pp.49-60. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 653.430KB).

Dr. David Jortner

Assistant Professor of Theatre, Theatre Department, Baylor University, Waco, Texas, USA

David Jortner teaches theatre history, theory and dramatic literature at Baylor University. He received his PhD. In Theatre and Performance Studies from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003 with specializations in Japanese theatre, American theatre and theatre theory. He is the co-editor of Modern Japanese Theatre and Performance and has essays in several texts, including Inexorable Modernity: Japan’s Grappling with Modernity in the Arts and Revenge Drama in European Renaissance and Japanese Theatre. As a director he has staged works such as Lysistrata, Picasso at the Lapin Agile, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, Angel City and Fefu and Her Friends.