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Waiting for Lefty and Other Plays Paperback – January 14, 1994
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About the Author
Known primarily as one of the great American playwrights--his classic dramas in "Waiting for Lefty" and "Rocket to the Moon--"Clifford Odets also wrote or co-wrote 18 movies for film and television.
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Top Customer Reviews
It is arguable, but I think it's true that without Odets' dramatization of the plight of the common man, we wouldn't have witnessed the (admittidly more poetic and timeless) works of Miller, Inge and Williams. Odets, perhaps more than any other playwright of his time, placed "the little guy" in the center of the tragic form. As one reads these plays, one becomes aware that the rules are beginning to break right before the reader's eyes.
Odets' plays are, if one is able to check their political hat at the door, fine works of dramtic lit that prove most actable while also allowing a range of staging possibilities. His narratives are clean and direct in the sense that they give the characters a series of clear objectives and actions as well as conflicts to confront. This collection is a most welcome and necessary addition to any theatre library.
This dialectic play gives the audience an insight into the ills of American society and encourages them to change their reality. It was written and performed at a time when the legend of the self-made man held no more waters. The country was still struggling with the aftershocks of the stock market crash of 1929. Unemployment rate reached its highest peak in the United States and employers were reducing wages drastically. As depicted in John Steinbeck's The Grapes of Wrath (1939) and Tillie Olsen's Yonnondio: From the Thirties (written in the 1930s, published in 1974), workers were treated brutally by their employers. As Steinbeck showed, workers had to bond together and fight for their meagre wages which dropped even more because of the intense competition. In this fight, unionization and strikes were their only weapons.
So says Leo, soft natured, burnt out, over worked, unappreciated, hang dog Odetian father in Paradise Lost. But such sentiment could come from any of these six plays and not be out of place.
In these six plays, featuring some of the most brilliant and emotional American playwriting ever, Clifford Odets hammered and chiseled circumstances of urban American life in the 1930's. Full of hard edged people who demand it of others, and naive people who refuse to be brought down by the prevailing winds, Odets creates a world that may seem dated and bygone. But the turmoil and the choices are neither.
In Waiting for Lefty taxi cab drivers must contend with horrendous working conditions, including violence and intimidation from managment if they strike. Scenes from worker meetings, home life between a husband and wife on the edge, and between two scientists politicing towards blacklisting and espionage.
In Awake and Sing and Paradise Lost families living in small cramped apartments must strive for peace and simple comforts while income is barely enough, their children, desperate for a better life, risk their lives through crime, or take up with sordid, cynical and compromised people. Homes are taken away, suicides and paralysis grip them.
In Till the Day I Die, two brothers go from being tight excited comrades, rebelling against the Fascist Nazi encrouchment, to being torn apart and suspicious after one of them is captured, tortured, abused, compromised and released.Read more ›
Moreover, there has been no lack of those cultural workers, including playwrights and actors, who, while not plebes themselves, have readily come over to our side, at least for a while. This movement toward the plebes is episodic but takes a big leap forward especially in times of general social turmoil like the period of the Great Depression in the 1930's and in the social movements of the 1960s. That is the case with the playwright under review, Clifford Odets, and the cultural organization that initially sponsored his works, The Theater Guild of New York, in the 1930s.
Put a collectivist spirit in the air as a result of serious class struggles for union recognition in some a massive strike wave in 1934, a turn by the Communist International toward the popular front and alliance with previously ignored or despised bourgeois and petty bourgeois elements, some hunger actors and related cultural workers, AND the bright lights of New York and you have the Theater Guild. Its illustrious personal included many young performers who would go on to, if not honorable theater careers, then long ones like Lee J. Cobb and Elia Kazan who made appearances in Clifford Odets works.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Waiting for Lefty is a ham-handed political statement to make the point that communism (Lefty?) made sense to more than a few people in 1935, when the play was presented, given the... Read morePublished on April 19, 2013 by Aloysius
I really love reading these plays! Awake and Sing! is in it, and I can't stop reading it over and over again!Published on January 2, 2013 by Shannon
Great seller. Item arrived quickly and as described. I needed it for a class and it arrived well before classes started, which is what I needed. I would buy from this seller again.Published on August 25, 2010 by Jacquelyn
Unrepentant agit-prop. Odets is lauded as a hero to Marxists, but he was a middle class high school drop-out who rolled over when called in front of the HUAC in the 1950s. Read morePublished on July 5, 2010 by Russell Lycan
As a leftist, inspiring pieces of literature are not exactly few and far between - but ones this entertaining certainly are. Read morePublished on January 3, 2007 by muscovy