Fraser, Brad 1959-

views updated

FRASER, Brad 1959-


Born June 28, 1959, in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Agent—c/o Author Mail, NeWest Press, 201, 8540 109th St., Edmonton, Alberta T6G 1E6, Canada.


Playwright, actor, stage director and producer. Spokesperson for AIDS Network, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada.


Alberta Culture Award, 1978, 1979, 1987, 1988, 1989; Laura May Kutney Stylings Award for best new play, 1989; Floyd S. Chalmers Award for best Canadian play, 1991, for Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love, and 1996, for Poor Super Man; London Evening Standard award, 1992; Time Out award, 1992; Genie award for best adapted screenplay, for Love and Human Remains, 1994; Dora Mavor Moore Award, 1995; Los Angeles Critics award, 1995.



Two Pariah at a Bus Stop in a Large City Late at Night, produced in Alberta, Canada, c. 1979.

Mutants, produced in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, c. 1980.

Wolf Boy (also see below; produced 1981), published in The Wolf Plays, NeWest Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1993.

Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love (also see below; produced 1989), Blizzard (Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada), 1990.

The Wolf Plays (includes Wolf Boy and Prom Night of the Living Dead), NeWest Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1993.

The Ugly Man (also see below; produced in London, England, 1994), Playwrights Co-op (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1991.

Poor Super Man: A Play with Captions (also see below; produced in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1994), NeWest Press (Edmonton, Alberta, Canada), 1995.

Martin Yesterday (also see below; produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1997), Playwrights Co-op (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 1997.

(Adaptor, with Joel Miller) Outrageous (based on the 1977 film), produced in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, 1999.

Snake in Fridge (produced in Manchester, England, 2000), Playwrights Co-op (Toronto, Ontario, Canada), 2000.

Cold Meat Party, produced in Manchester, England, 2003.

Author of Chainsaw Love, 1985; Return of the Bride, 1988. Also author of plays for the Citadel Theatre's "Teen Festival of the Arts" series, including, with Jeffrey Hirschfield, Blood Buddies and (with Darrin Hagen) Young Art and Prom Night of the Living Dead. Contributor to periodicals, including National Post.


Love and Human Remains (adaptation of Fraser's play Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love), 1993.

Beauty, Disney, 1994.

Parade, 1995.

Our Man in Manila, 1996.

(And actor) Symposium: Ladder of Love, 1996.

Zircon Love, 1997.

(Adaptor; and director) Leaving Metropolis (based on Fraser's play Poor Super Man), 2002.


Hip Check Harry's, 1989.

King of Another Place, 1991.

The Ugly Man, 1995.

The Killer inside Me, 1996.

Martin Yesterday, 1996.


Killing Time, 1991.

Insomnia, 1995.

(And coproducer) Queer as Folk (series), Showtime, 2000.


Brad Fraser is a playwright whose work, which includes Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love and Poor Super Man: A Play with Captions, has been produced at theatres around the world as well as in his native Canada. The openly gay writer, who began writing stage plays as a teen, told Maclean's interviewer Brian D. Johnson of his difficult childhood in rural Alberta. Fraser's parents were teens themselves when he was born, and he told Johnson that his mother had four children and two miscarriages before she was old enough to legally drink at a bar. Fraser recalled the beatings he received from his father and the sexual abuse he experienced from a male relative. Until he was sixteen years old, Fraser's family moved constantly. Pop culture became his touchstone, and he began writing stories and drawing. He trained as a graphic artist and then enrolled in a drama program for young people, but when he read the plays available for teens, he felt he could do better.

Fraser's first play, Two Pariah at a Bus Stop in a Large City Late at Night, was produced before he was twenty years of age and won first-prize in a playwriting competition. His first professional production was Mutants, a story of abused teens. The show, although nearly canceled because of its content of profanity, sex, and drug use, proved to be a hit. A 1984 Toronto production of his Wolf Boy, about a teenage werewolf, starred a young Keanu Reeves.

The names of the two main characters in Wolf Boy are used in Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love, which Fraser later adapted for film as Love and Human Remains. It is the story of David, a former child actor who is now waiting tables. The "unidentified remains" of the title refers to the bodies of young women killed by David's best friend, Bernie, who David discovers is a serial killer.

The Ugly Man, an adaptation of Middleton and Rowley's Restoration-era revenge tragedy The Changeling, is also filled with sex and violence. Back Stage critic Victor Gluck described a New York production of this play as "a cross between a sexually liberated 'Frankenstein' and 'Woyzeck,' set on a modern ranch far from civilization."

Another protagonist named David is the gay artist in Poor Super Man, which Fraser adapted, updated, and directed for the screen as Leaving Metropolis. Fraser told Mitchel Raphael of Performing Arts and Entertainment in Canada that "in the film, it now feels much more to me like the Superman metaphor is actually a representation of Matt and David, men who conceal their true identities from the women around them." In the play, comic-book hero Superman's death and rebirth serve as a metaphor for AIDS. The successful David takes a job waiting tables in the restaurant owned by Matt and his wife, Violet. Matt is flattered by the nude portraits David has painted of him and offers to pose for him, which leads to the two men having sex. David's transsexual roommate is Shannon, who is undergoing surgery to transform her from male to female. Fraser made changes in the film that reflect the changing nature of the AIDS epidemic and the fact that the death rate has leveled off.

Fraser told Andrew Hicks in an interview for that Poor Super Man is "set around the death of Superman. If you remember in 1993, there was the big thing where DC Comics was killing Superman as a sales ploy. Instantly Superman is in the news and everywhere. In the play it is made very clear that David is the last survivor of all his gay friends, and he feels like Superman from the planet krypton."

Martin Yesterday studies how men are attracted to each other and how unprotected sex and HIV shatter the relationships that result. Alistair McCartney said of the play in Lambda Book Report that Fraser "conveys pressing issues through a narrative structure that is at once a giddy series of MTV-style jump cuts from one scene to the next, and a graceful overlapping, where one conversation bleeds into another. Mirroring the fracture of the characters' lives, the play's fragmented form is skillfully handled, highly readable, and I would imagine, easily stageable."

The reptile of Snake in Fridge, a play inspired by Shirley Jackson's novel The Haunting of Hill House, is a boa constrictor that has escaped from the refrigerator in the kitchen of an old Victorian house in Toronto that is haunted by actual ghosts as much as it is by the nightmares, fears, and pain of the young lost souls who live there.

Hicks noted that Fraser, whose stage depictions of homosexual sex consistently unsettle theater administrators, "is no stranger to going against the norm." As Fraser explained, "When I sit down to write I always think, what can I do here that I haven't done before. I certainly don't think, what new atrocities can I come up with.…My real impulse when I sit down to write is what story do I want to see, and how do I want to see it."



Contemporary Dramatists, sixth edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999.


Advocate, November 21, 2000, Matthew Hays, review of Outrageous, p. 99.

Back Stage, February 21, 1997, William Stevenson, review of Unidentified Human Remains and the True Nature of Love, p. 48; June 18, 1999, Victor Gluck, review of The Ugly Man, p. 33.

Guardian (Manchester, England), November 22, 2000, Lyn Gardner, review of Snake in Fridge, p. 20.

Lambda Book Report, November, 1999, Alistair Mc-Cartney, review of Martin Yesterday, p. 26.

Maclean's, February 13, 1995, Brian D. Johnson, "Brad the Impaler" (interview), p. 60.

Performing Arts and Entertainment in Canada, winter, 1998, Mitchel Raphael, review of Poor Super Man: A Play with Captions and interview with Fraser, p. 30.

Video Store, January 18, 2004, Dan Bennett, "Director Looks Forward to Leaving Metropolis Coming to DVD" (interview with Fraser), p. 20.


Canadian Theatre Encyclopedia Online, (October 11, 2004)., (March 12, 2003), Mike Ross, "Fraser Back in Town for Leaving" (interview with Fraser)., (October 11, 2004), "Brad Fraser.", (May 10, 2004), Andrew Hicks, interview with Fraser., (October 11, 2004), interview with Fraser.*

About this article

Fraser, Brad 1959-

Updated About content Print Article