When it was first produced by the group theater in 1935, waiting for lefty made a sensation of its playwright, clifford odets, who became the theatrical conscience of his generation, much as arthur miller and tony kushner later would for their own generations. In other words he is the head of a union and the men. Clifford odetss name will always be associated by theatergoers with the word strike. Waiting for lefty is the best strike play to come out of the great depression. Waiting for lefty, which odets wrote in three days, crosscut a union meeting with scenes of the aftermath of the depression, which had left more than one in four workers unemployed. Clifford odets was arguably one of the most skilled playwrights of 1930s american social protest. Benjamin will be played by fred maurer september 28 october 1. Clifford odets biography list of works, study guides. Walt odets vividly remembers riding in a car with his father, clifford odets, on the way home from a ucla production of the elder odets 1938 drama rocket to the moon. Seattles waiting for lefty university of washington.
This was the quintessential proletarian drama in which the actors and the audience on opening night arose at the end of. Waiting for lefty by clifford odets looking up at down readings february 1821 some of the most influential theatre artists of the twentieth century, men and women who were instrumental to the development of theatre and film in america, passed through or were once associates of the group theatre. Waiting for lefty by clifford odets university of washington. The year waiting for lefty was published, its author, clifford odets, was officially a member of the communist party, the ideology of which is clearly expressed in. Odets began his acting career playing small supporting roles and understudying at the poets theatre and the guild theatre. Clifford odets 19060718 19630818 was an american playwright, screenwriter and film director. Odets was born in philadelphia to louis odets born gorodetsky and pearl geisinger, russian and romanianjewish immigrants, and raised in philadelphia and the bronx, new york. Waiting for lefty solidarity forever part 7 of 7 youtube. Dramatists play service, one of the premier playlicensing and theatrical publishing agencies in the world, was formed in 1936 to foster national opportunities for playwrights by publishing affordable editions of their plays and handling the performance rights to these works. These two early plays by odets have been dismissed by some critics as leftwing propaganda. His plays include waiting for lefty, awake and sing.
Waiting for lefty by clifford odets berkshire fine arts. Clifford odets iconic 1935 play waiting for lefty was first produced for the group theatre in new york city, pictured above. Clifford odets is regarded as one of the greatest american playwrights of the 20thcentury. In the mid1930s he was widely seen as the potential successor to nobel prizewinning playwright eugene oneill, as oneill began to withdraw from broadways commercial pressures and increasing critical backlash. A fat man of porcine appearance is talking directly to the audience. Waiting for lefty is a play set during the great depression. The flowering peach, clifford odets, oct 1, 1973, drama, 89 pages.
The opening scene is a hiring hall where a union leader obviously in the pay of the bosses is trying to convince a committee of workers. He met harold clurman when he began attending initial meetings. Waiting for lefty is right on the money by kris neely these commentaries are primarily focused on the production, direction, and technical aspects of theater and performing arts. The union members are waiting for their representative, lefty, to arrive so that they can vote on a strike. On it are sitting six or seven men in a semicircle. The event was cancelled by the board of selectmen stating that the play is about strikes and. Full text of three dramas of american individualism see other formats. Waiting for lefty is a 1935 play by the american playwright clifford odets. Consisting of a series of related vignettes, the entire play is framed by the meeting of cab drivers who are planning a labor strike. Waiting for lefty was not odets first play, but it was the first play of his that was produced and became the first real critical and popular success for the group theatre, appearing on broadway as well as in cities around the united states. During the play these men are waiting for a man named lefty, who is the leader of this union. Clifford odets is bestknown for his early, depressionera dramas, particularly waiting for lefty, an overt work of propaganda that tells a story of workingclass struggle, intended to promote a socialist revolution. Department of english letters, faculty of letters, sanata dharma university, 2009. The year waiting for lefty was published, odets was officially a part of the communist party, and it is apparent throughout this script.
It was with this group that odets shot to fame with a series of plays that he wrote during the early and mid30s. The roundabout theatre company presented the first revival of odets s 1949 play, the big knife, in the spring of 20 at the american airlines theatre in new york, with doug hughes. Class struggle is a collective effort of an oppressed class against the class that oppresses them. Coming in the midst of the depression and labor struggles of the 1930s, the play was labeled as communist propaganda by critics.
Its production in new york was simultaneous with the citys famous taxicab strike, and for that reason among others it gained considerable public attention. Buy a cheap copy of waiting for lefty and other plays book by clifford odets. Clifford odets 19061963 odets was born in philadelphia to an impoverished jewish family. One of the most celebrated and significant plays of the modern american theatre, waiting for lefty by clifford odets is set in the depression era and deals with the exploitation of the working classes. Waiting for lefty has 1 available editions to buy at half price books marketplace. Clifford odets waiting for lefty is not a timeless story rather it is the produ ct of a specific time and culture that needs to be scrutinized in order to evaluate its value better.
The event was cancelled by the board of selectmen stating that the play is about strikes and things, and gives people the wrong kind of ideas. A critical and popular success, this masterfully constructed work brings searing intensity and rare theatrical excitement to its probing, yet sharply. He was raised in philadelphia and in the bronx, new york, and dropped out of school to become an actor. Waiting for lefty by clifford odets directed by drew vanderburg in this last segment the union workers declare a strike, to stand up for their right to earn a living wage. Jan 14, 2011 waiting for lefty by clifford odets directed by drew vanderburg this is the first of seven segments of odets s famous unionization play. Enclosure a collection of plays, robert james nelson, gerald clifford weales, 1975, drama, 282 pages. This video contains fats opening monologue and the joe and. Apr 25, 2015 inspired by the new york city taxi strike of 1934 the agitprop play waiting for lefty by clifford odets was set for its town hall premiere that summer in provincetown. Clifford odets 19061963 waiting for lefty is ingenious and forthright rather than impressive as play writing. But not until after the unexpected success of odets waiting for lefty, staged as a benefit for new theatre magazine in winter 1935, did the group produce odets first fulllength work. The framing uses the audience as part of the meeting the play was premiered by the group theatre, a new york city theatre company founded by harold. His first play, waiting for lefty 1935, an agitprop play about strikers, was an enormous success.
Waiting for lefty book by clifford odets 1 available. Most of his other plays of the 1930s, most notably awake and sing 1935 and paradise lost 1935, concern the economic and psychological plight of poor new york city jewish families and heighten middleclass jewish speech into a kind of poetry. Odets fame as a playwright was made when he wrote and acted in waiting for lefty, produced by the. Basing his work on a 1934 taxi strike in new york, clifford odets wrote the play in three days for a contest of one. Playwright clifford odets, the unextinguished white hope of the american theater as he was called by newspapers in.
His later works were more conventional in style and content and seldom preached a political message. In a series of six vignettes, various drivers make a plea to strike. It was firstly produced by the group theatrean american, new york city. Clifford odets author of waiting for lefty and other plays. The action of the play is comprised of a series of varied, imaginatively conceived episodes, which blend into a powerful and stirring mosaic. Seattles production of waiting for lefty in 1936 by selena voelker. Waiting for lefty remained popular and will remain relevant as an artifact of this time period as an expression of the ideology of american communism. First presented by the famous group theatre, the play has become a symbol of its times and a beacon for many soontobe famous playwrights. This was the quintessential proletarian drama in which the actors and the. Benjamin, miller, stein, mitchell, phillips, keller. Supersummary, a modern alternative to sparknotes and cliffsnotes, offers highquality study guides that feature detailed chapter summaries and analysis of major themes, characters, quotes, and essay topics. Waiting for lefty study guide contains a biography of clifford odets, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary and analysis.
Complete summary of clifford odets waiting for lefty. Waiting for lefty production staff waiting for lefty by clifford odets the role of dr. The play, which focuses on a group of taxi drivers planning a labor strike, was the first of odets works to be performed on the stage. His writing is spare, almost terse, and highly instructive of the period. By clifford odets one of the most celebrated and significant plays of the modern american theatre, waiting for lefty by clifford odets is set in the depression era and deals with the exploitation of the working classes. It tells the story of 56 men who create a union meeting that was meant to bring together workers who were getting underpaid. Waiting for lefty, oneact play by clifford odets, published and produced in 1935. The depiction of the american working class in waiting for lefty gained odets many accolades and earned him great fame. Clifford odets interesting stories about famous people.
The framing uses the audience as part of the meeting. Odets fame as a playwright was made when he wrote and acted in waiting for lefty, produced by the group theatre in 1934. Consisting of a series of related vignettes, the entire play is framed by a meeting of cab drivers who are planning a labor strike. Dps offers an extensive list of titles that includes many of the most significant plays of the past century. Waiting for lefty is a 1935 political and perhaps even revolutionary play written by american playwright clifford odets. Waiting for lefty as the curtain goes up weseea bare stage. Waiting for lefty, written by clifford odets about a 1934 taxi union strike, is one of the best examples of this tradition, written while odets was working with the group theatre in new york.
Lefty is the story of a meeting of a new york cab drivers union on the verge of a. In the 1930s, odets sociallyaware dramas were the most influential and popular produced. Books by clifford odets author of waiting for lefty and. From january 1935 odets socially relevant dramas were extremely influential. In the climactic finale of his taxiunion drama waiting for lefty, the. Waiting for lefty by clifford odets directed by drew vanderburg this is the first of seven segments of odetss famous unionization play. His works, including waiting for lefty, awake and sing. Lefty, a play about a taxi drivers strike, sought to engage the audience with the production and meld leftwing labor politics and artistic forms. Class struggle as the impact of oppression seen in clifford odets waiting for lefty. Analysis waiting for lefty 1935 clifford odets 19061963. Clifford odets july 18, 1906 august 14, 1963 was an american playwright, screenwriter, and director.
Pdf waiting for lefty, which was written by clifford odets during the great depression of the thirties, has become not only an emblematic play of. After working as an actor for several years in new york citys avantgarde, leftwing group theatre repertory company, clifford odets produced his first play, waiting for lefty, in 1935. Dec 12, 2010 waiting for lefty by clifford odets directed by drew vanderburg in this last segment the union workers declare a strike, to stand up for their right to earn a living wage. Inspired by the new york city taxi strike of 1934 the agitprop play waiting for lefty by clifford odets was set for its town hall premiere that summer in provincetown. Waiting for lefty is ingenious and forthright rather than impressive as play writing. Waiting for lefty is a hamhanded political statement to make the point that communism lefty. Is waiting for lefty a universal play, or is it too tied to place new york and to time the great depression of the 1930s.
Full text of three dramas of american individualism. This onepage guide includes a plot summary and brief analysis of waiting for lefty by clifford odets. When they did, the company found its voice and odets found his home. Waiting for lefty waiting for lefty is a 1935 play by the american playwright clifford odets. Odets s early, more leftwing plays, such as waiting for lefty, awake and sing. The stage is assumed to be the platform at a labor union meeting, and the audience to be the assembled members of the. Its mission to find relevant and meaningful subjects for their productions made it the ideal creative home for the young writer, and, in 1935, he delivered a short play entitled waiting for lefty. Waiting for lefty is a 1935 play by clifford odets.1295 1273 648 258 1033 295 876 1171 1227 585 818 1170 545 1174 663 1486 1598 691 908 546 463 987 1271 246 1076 419 818 1651 1571 1273 1434 642 70 273 1441 710 1176 290 1609 911 1211 1478 904 953 305 162 466 253 744