From the late 1920’s to the late 1950’s, Broadway theatre was America’s cultural epicenter. Television didn’t exist and movies were regarded as novelties. Entertainment took the form of literature, music and theatre. Students analyze some outstanding works of the golden age. Plays are under 100 pages and are available at Barnes and Noble bookstores. An optional visit to a dramatic play at the Yale Rep or Long Wharf theaters is offered. The plays are in the sequence listed below.
8 sessions starting Thursday, March 15 at 3:10 PM
The Rose Tattoo is an acclaimed play written by Tennessee Williams. The drama opened on Broadway in 1951, and the film adaptation was released in 1955. The play tells the story of an Italian-American widow in Mississippi who has allowed herself to withdraw from the world after her husband’s death, and expects her daughter to do the same. The play won Tony awards for best play, best actor (Eli Wallach) and best actress (Maureen Stapleton).
Mister Roberts, by Joshua Logan, both a novel and a successful Broadway play, is a well-balanced blend of comedy and drama. It opened in 1948, winning a Tony Award for Best Play. Of all the dramas made about World War II, Mister Roberts stands out as unique. The action takes place on a Navy cargo ship in the Pacific during the waning months of the war. The main tension in the drama is not between the Americans and the Japanese but between the title character (Henry Fonda), and the ship’s captain (James Cagney).
A Raisin in the Sun, by Lorraine Hansberry opened on Broadway in 1959 and marked the debut of a young actor, Sidney Poitier. The play tells the story of a lower-class black family’s struggle to “better themselves” and gain middle-class acceptance. When the play opens, Mama, the sixty-year-old matriarch of the family, is waiting for a $10,000 insurance check from the death of her husband. The drama focuses on how the new windfall splits apart a family eventually to be reconciled by the drama’s end.
A View From the Bridge is one of Arthur Miller’s most celebrated plays, renowned for its passion and tragedy. Eddie Carbone, a Brooklyn longshoreman is unhappily married to Beatrice and unconsciously in love with Catherine, the niece that they have raised from childhood. Into his house come two brothers, illegal immigrants, Marco and Rodolpho. Catherine falls in love with Rudolpho; and Eddie, tormented but unable to admit even to himself his quasi-incestuous love, reports the illegal immigrants to the authorities.
The Miracle Worker, by William Gibson, tells the story of young Helen Keller, blind, deaf, and mute since infancy. Her inability to communicate has left her frustrated and violent. In desperation, her parents seek help from the Perkins Institute, which sends them a schoolgirl named Annie Sullivan to tutor their daughter. Through persistence and love, and sheer stubbornness, Annie breaks through Helen’s walls of silence and darkness and teaches her to communicate.
Sunrise at Campobello, by Dore Schary, is the story of Franklin Roosevelt’s bout with polio at age 39 in 1921 and how his family (and especially wife Eleanor) cope with his illness. From being stricken while vacationing at Campobello to his thrilling nominating speech for Al Smith’s presidency in 1924, the story follows the various influences on Roosevelt’s life and his determination to recover.
Look Back In Anger, a 1956 play by renowned British playwright John Osborne, focuses on the overeducated and underemployed Jimmy Porter who rails against his work and life. He often lashes out at his wife, Alison, who he sees as “uppity.” Jimmy’s anger and frustration lead Alison to