Sherman, Martin

Martin Gerald Sherman is an American dramatist and screenwriter who has worked in London since 1980. He has written more than 20 stage plays which have been widely produced in over 60 countries.

He was born on December 22, 1938 to Russian-Jewish immigrants Julia (née Shapiro) and Joseph T. Sherman. Sherman is best known for his breakthrough play Bent in 1979, which had its premiere in the London West End, starring Sir Ian McKellen. It focuses on Max, a gay man living in Weimar Republic Berlin. On escaping from the city, Max and his boyfriend hide from Nazi persecution before being captured by the Gestapo and sent to a concentration camp. The play caused controversy and proved successful with audiences, enjoying a Tony-nominated Broadway transfer starring Richard Gere. The key controversy in 1979 was caused by the fact that Max chooses to wear the yellow Jewish star instead of the pink triangle given to homosexuals, since he has been told gays were the most despised of all the prisoners. The play thus seemed to suggest that it was a privilege being Jewish over being a homosexual in Nazi Germany. Following the success of this production, Sherman moved to London.

He is also well-known for his one-hander Rose (National Theatre 1999), which was nominated for a Laurence Olivier Award for Best New Play and subsequently transferred to Broadway the following year, starring Olympia Dukakis. The play is a survivor tale of an 80-year-old woman remembering her home, Yultishka, Ukraine, the Warsaw Ghetto, the Zionist paramilitary Haganah smuggling her to Mandate Palestine, her transit to Hamburg, and finally to Miami, USA. This is subsequently linked to the occupation of the West Bank: Having disconnected from her Israeli son Abbie and convert daughter-in-law Chava, she sits shivah for Nora el-Kareem, a young girl killed by her grandson Doron. More recently, Gently Down The Stream, premiered at the Public Theatre in New York in 2017, directed by Sean Mathias.


Sherman, M. (1999), Rose. London: Methuen.