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A History of the American Film

A History of the American Film
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Author: Christopher Durang
Publisher: Samuel French (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 144
Pub. Date: 2010
Edition: Acting
ISBN-10: 0573680892
ISBN-13: 9780573680892
Cast Size: 6 female, 9 male

About the Play:

A History of the American Film is a full-length musical comedy by Christopher Durang. The title sounds serious, but the show is playful and funny irreverent spoof by one of American theatre's most spirited and original writers. A History of the American Film is a revue-style musical full of madcap comedy and movie parody. It helps if you're a movie buff. But even if you're not, you can have fun with the crazy comedy in this play.

A History of the American Film is a hilarious take off on American films, especially from the 1930s through the 1950s. The principals play 5 archetypal Hollywood characters – Loretta the good girl, Jimmy the tough guy, Bette the tough gal, Hank the good guy, and Eve the wise-cracking loser-at-love friend – as their lives crash through American history and American film styles. (The prototypes are Loretta Young, Jimmy Cagney, Bette Davis, Henry Fonda and Eve Arden.) The parts they play are wild parodies from many Hollywood genres; a silent tearjerker, slum idyll, gangster epic, courtroom melodrama, chain gang social justice thriller, screwball comedy, Busby Berkeley backstage musical, war propaganda canteen musical-not to forget "Casablanca," "Citizen Kane" and a variety of minor genres.

A History of the American Film was first presented in 1976 at the Eugene O'Neill National Playwrights Conference in Waterford, Connecticut. The play then had a "triple premiere," presented by three major regional theatres with staggered openings at the Hartford Stage Company in Hartford, Connecticut, at the Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles, and at the Arena Stage in Washington, D.C. Its premiered on Broadway in 1978 at the ANTA Theatre. The Canadian premiere was in 1979 at the National Arts Centre in Ottawa.

Cast: 6 female, 9 male (The many supporting roles – nearly 60 – are divvied up among 8 actors or more)

What people say:

"The special gifts Durang brings to this work, apart from a sharp eye for genre parody are a sense of the misguided way we watch movies-making stars, ignoring the character in favor of the actor, wallowing in the kitschier moments — and an equally lethal sense of how Hollywood played on our sentimentalities by using the actor and the kitsch forms to put junky ideas across." — Village Voice

"The only fair word for Christopher Durang's A History of the American Film is mythic. The tone is satiric but affectionate. It is a tour de force of writing." — New York Times

About the Playwright:

Christopher Durang (1949-2024) was an award-winning American playwright and actor whose plays have been produced on and off- Broadway, in regional theatres around the US and abroad. He earned a B.A. from Harvard College, and an M.F.A. in Playwriting from Yale School of Drama. He was the co-chair of the Playwriting Program at the Juilliard School in Manhattan from its inception in 1994 to 2016.

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