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Balm in Gilead and Other Plays

Balm in Gilead and Other Plays
Your Price: $18.95 CDN
Author: Lanford Wilson
Publisher: Hill & Wang
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 116
Pub. Date: 1965
ISBN-10: 0374521565
ISBN-13: 9780374521561

About the Play:

Ludlow Fair has long been a favourite of acting teachers for female monologues and female/female scenes.

Balm in Gilead is a full-length drama by Lanford Wilson. This vivid and powerful play illuminates the bleak and terrifying world of young exiles and outcasts in New York's upper Broadway area. This volume also includes his early experimental one-acts Home Free! and scene study staple Ludlow Fair.

Balm in Gilead is set in an all-night coffee shop on New York's upper Broadway, where the riff-raff, the bums, the petty thieves, the lost, the desperate of the big city come together. The movement of the kaleidoscopic in effect, a surging mosaic of overlapping and interrelating speeches and action as separate goals and characters are blended together around a common center. At the core of the play are Joe and Darlene, two young people who would seem to have the strength and the need to transcend the turmoil and ugliness of the life in which they found themselves – but are, instead, crushed by it. But their loss is quickly absorbed in the maelstrom, as the others go on desperately seeking the joy and release and purpose in life which will, most certainly, continue to escape them.

Balm in Gilead was first produced in 1965 at Off-Off Broadway's famed La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club (La MaMa E.T.C.). It was the first full-length play ever produced Off-Off Broadway, and played to sold-out houses. One of Lanford Wilson's most significant early plays, it was a notable critical and commercial success, and became the first play from Off-Off Broadway to be published. The play's reputation was solidified in 1984 when it was revived by Circle Rep and Steppenwolf Theatre Company in a riveting production directed by John Malkovich and starring Gary Sinise and Laurie Metcalf.

Cast: 8 female and 16 male

What people say:

"Lanford Wilson is the rare dramatist, witty and humorous, who sees all his characters from the inside … Balm in Gilead is life itself trapped in a play." — New York Magazine

Home Free! concerns a brother and sister who live out a childlike fantasy as husband and wife. In their mid-20s, agoraphobic Lawrence and his pregnant sister Joanna live in a cluttered fantasy world, playing with toys and stuffed animals, sharing their psychotic illusions with a pair of imaginary children. Huddled in their apartment, the two of them struggle not have their world come apart by the seams. It is an engrossing play that has been widely produced by university, fringe, and community theatre groups. (Premiered in 1964 at the Caffe Cino; Cast: 1 female, 1 male)

Ludlow Fair is about two strikingly different roommates live with each other and cope with their obvious differences. Vixen Rachel is just trying to get over a boy and wry Agnes is just trying to get over a cold, but they both have to deal with each other and their loud neighbours. Rachel is in a fit. Joe, the latest in her long line of boyfriends, has stolen money from her and her roommate, Agnes. Rachel turned him in to the authorities, who discovered that he had a long history of crime. Rachel, who claims to love him still, is prostrate with guilt. Agnes has a wiser view. Ludlow Fair was successfully produced Off-Broadway, Off-Off-Broadway, and in London. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and is regularly performed because it provides strong roles for two women. (Premiered in 1965 at Caffe Cino; Cast: 2 female)

About the Playwright:

Lanford Wilson (1937-2011) was one of the most distinguished American playwrights of the late 20th century. He was instrumental in drawing attention to Off-Off Broadway, where his first works were staged in the mid-1960s. He was also among the first playwrights to move from that milieu to renown on wider stages, ascending to Off Broadway, and then to Broadway, within a decade of his arrival in New York. His work has also long been a staple of regional theaters throughout the United States. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1980, was elected in 2001 to the Theater Hall of Fame, and in 2004 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.