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The Dark at the Top of the Stairs

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Biz Staff Pick!
Author: William Inge
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 72
Pub. Date: 1998
ISBN-10: 0822202719
ISBN-13: 9780822202714
Cast Size: 2 female, 3 male, 2 girls, 3 boys

About the Play:

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs has long been a favourite of acting teachers for Male Monologues, Female/Female Scenes, and Female/Male Scenes.

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs is a full-length drama by William Inge. An Oklahoma housewife must deal with her domineering, unfaithful salesman husband, shy daughter and overly pampered son. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs is a powerful study of marital breakdown and sexual awakening in oil-rich Oklahoma of the early 1920s. Fearless insights into claustrophobic family relationships combine with wider questions about prejudice.

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs tells the story of a middle class family torn apart by economic forces, social upheaval, violence, and sexual trauma. The setting is a small town in 1920s Oklahoma. But it is not a beautiful morning in the home of the Flood family who are forced to accept that the world is changing very fast and they must adapt or die. We find Rubin, a travelling salesman for a harness firm, Cora, his sensitive and lovely wife, Sonny, their young son and Reenie, their teenage daughter. The plot consists of a series of short stories – the fight between a husband and wife; the fear of the overly shy Reenie on going to her first dance; the problems of introverted Sonny who is harassed by bullies; the corroding marriage of Cora's rowdy sister; and the tragedy of a military school cadet who suffers from the stigma of being a Jewish boy from Hollywood in an alien community. The play's message is that there is dark at the top of everyone's stairs, but that it can be dissipated by understanding, tolerance and compassion. The Dark at the Top of the Stairs is a somewhat autobiographical drama would come to be considered William Inge's finest play.

The Dark at the Top of the Stairs premiered in 1957 on Broadway at New York's Music Box Theatre, staged by Elia Kazan. It ran for a total of 468 performances and was nominated for five Tony Awards including Best Play. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and is regularly performed in regional repertory, college, and community theatre productions.

Cast: 2 female, 3 male, 2 girls, 3 boys

What people say:

"A moving, perceptive and effective drama." — New York Post

"William Ingepossesses a kind of magic, it is the magic of language, of never using a false word or phrase…." — New York Newsday

About the Playwright:

William Inge (1913-1973) may justifiably be called the first playwright to examine the American Midwest and its people. He was born in Independence, Kansas, and was educated at the University of Kansas. After working as a teacher and an actor, he became the drama critic for the St. Louis Star-Times. During the 1950s and early '60s, no other American dramatist with the exception of Tennessee Williams could compare with William Inge in his prominence on the Broadway stage and in films. As Tennessee Williams tapped into the mannerisms and neuroses of the American South, Inge did much the same for the Midwest racking up a stunning track record on Broadway – four plays, four hits – and all of his theatrical successes were turned into big-budget Hollywood movies with blue-chip casts. Like Williams, he also occasionally wrote film scripts, and he won an Oscar for Splendor in the Grass.

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