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On an autumn afternoon in 2012, near a small central Ohio liberal arts college, Professor Bob Anderson arrives home to find Susan, his wife of 40 years, waiting for him. They are celebrating their anniversary on this day, and their three children are expected to arrive shortly.
Anticipating the arrival of their eldest son, James, Bob immediately heads for the bar and starts drinking. The Oxford educated philosophy professor has never believed in any supernatural powers; his son is the pastor of a 6,000 family fundamentalist Christian church in the Dallas suburbs, and the host of a daily evangelical television program. Their opinions frequently differ.
Bob tends to think his son is a little crazy; James thinks his father is going to hell. Susan, who has a PhD in English Literature from Ohio State, and teaches at the college with her husband, hits the bottle as well. James generally leaves his mother alone, as she is at least marginally a believer, though her ideas of heaven suggest she’s hoping to hang around with a young Warren Beatty, rather than join in with the heavenly choir. Still, she knows father and son will inevitably start arguing, and figures that getting a little drunk will make it a bit more tolerable.
When James arrives, with his shy young wife,Karen, the arguing soon starts. Despite their differences, the debates remain more or less cordial. James, after all, is convinced that he’s helping by attacking his father’s lack of belief, and Bob can’t help thinking that at some point his son might learn the difference between fantasy and reality.
Soon they are interrupted by the arrival of the Anderson’s daughter, Ellen, and her physician husband, Mark Winston. Ellen and Mark also live in Ohio, and both head for the bar. The religious wars don’t concern them, but traffic had been horrible coming from Canton. They may be the only really normal people in the play.
Last to arrive is younger son (and middle child) George, with his roommate, Eric Simpson. When George and Eric reveal that they plan to move to New York and be married, any theological debates between Bob and James immediately fall by the wayside. James launches into full evangelical mode, with visions of hellfire and divine punishment visited on the country for even allowing such a thing. James even reminds George that he was captain of his high school football team, and used to date cheerleaders, so he obviously can’t be gay. George retorts that he was also dating one of the tackles, so yes, he can.
Bob and Susan try to keep things together, but can’t help wondering how it is that James seems to be the only family member who hadn’t figured out that George was gay. Eventually, the yelling drives the parents out onto the front porch. They return, perhaps a bit more enlightened, but mostly because they’ve realized that all the liquor is still in the living room. And just when it seems things may be reaching some sort of climax, Bob’s secretary, Carol Burgess, arrives at the house, momentarily shutting down the argument. Not for long, though, as it turns out that Carol has just found out she’s pregnant, and Bob is the father.
And that’s just the first act.
The Coming Out script is available in three editions. The Acting Edition is a large, 8-
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The Reading Edition is smaller, 8-
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The Kindle Edition is formatted for Amazon’s Kindle reading device, and contains the same materials as the Reading Edition.
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