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Lanford Wilson: 21 Short Plays

Lanford Wilson: 21 Short Plays
Your Price: $26.95 CDN
Author: Lanford Wilson
Introduction by: Frank Rich
Publisher: Smith & Krauss
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 268
Pub. Date: 1993
ISBN-10: 1880399318
ISBN-13: 9781880399316

About the Book:

The volume Lanford Wilson: 21 Short Plays is a collection of ten-minute plays by Lanford Wilson, the Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright whom many regard as one of the founders of the Off-Off Broadway theater movement. Authored when he was still an emerging playwright, these offbeat counterculture plays – the kind which could be produced simply at places like the legendary coffee house theatre Caffe Cino and the famed La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club (La MaMa E.T.C) in New York City – are each interesting in different ways and demonstrate how his writing style changed from from the 1960s through the 1990s.

Included in the collection Lanford Wilson: 21 Short Plays are:
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)
The Madness of Lady Bright is considered one of the very first in the gay theatre movement, as well as one of the catalysts for the highly experimental off-off Broadway explosion of the 1960s. It's a hot evening in her New York City apartment, as aging drag queen Leslie Bright peers into her mirror and is faced with her own mortality, while being haunted by the memories of those who she has loved and lost. The theatrical work is one of the first to examine the experience of a queer person in a truly human light – not through lenses that coloured queer people as mentally ill or as deviants – but as human beings. (Premiered in 1964 at the Caffe Cino, was his first major success, and has appeared in revivals to the present day; Cast: 1 female, 2 male)
Ludlow Fair takes a sidelong glance into the lives of two roommates, a heartbeat that reveals their true character, or maybe just the mood of a moment. 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)
This Is The Rill Speaking is a poetic, mosaic-style evocation of small-town life in the Ozarks told through multiple voices which shift and blend from identity to identity. (Premiered in 1965 at Caffe Cino; Cast: 3 female, 3 male)
Days Ahead portrays the fraught psyche of a fastidious little man who reveals his own bizarre surprise as he confronts the memory of an early love, which he perceives as a dusty, crumbling wall through which he must dig. (Premiered in 1964 at Caffe Cino; Cast: 1 male)
Wandering covers the span of a man's life in a matter of minutes. Striking harmonics of uncanny depth and pertinence through its rapid fire dialogue (Premiered in 1966 at Caffe Cino; Cast: 1 female, 2 male)
Stoop centers on three aging ladies sitting on the stoop of a run-down city brownstone, commenting quietly on the inexorable disintegration of the quality, and possibility, of life. (First televised in 1969 in New York City as part of PBS Channel 13/WNET's prestigious Theatre in America; Cast: 3 female)
Sextet (Yes) is compromised of the thoughts and recollections of six characters, who sit at random, answering each other's revelations with a quiet "yes." (Premiered in 1971 at Circle Repertory Theatre; Cast: 3 female, 3 male)
Ikke, Ikke, Nye, Nye, Nye: A telephone operator and a mailroom clerk, whose dad owns the company, conduct an awkward first date in which both struggle with their carnal desires. (Premiered in 1972 at the Yale Cabaret in New Haven, Connecticut; Cast: 1 female, 1 male)
Victory On Mrs. Dandywine's Island: The scene is the sitting room of Mrs. Dandywine's elegant summer "cottage," where things take a flustered turn at the unexpected arrival of a man who, of course, must be up to no good. (Premiered in 1981 at Circle Repertory Theatre; Cast: 3 female, 2 male)
The Great Nebula In Orion: Two college friends now outwardly thriving women in their mid-30s meet again by chance in a New York department store. They have not seen each other for seven years. Louise invites Carrie up to her apartment for coffee, a coffee, which turns into a bottle of brandy. Although initially defensive, they reveal, in barbed conversation as well as bitchy asides to the audience, the loneliness and disappointments that lurk beneath the glossy surface of their lives. It's witty and gently touching. (Premiered in 1971 at Circle Repertory Theatre; Cast: 2 female)
The Family Continues is written in a stream-of-consciousness contrapuntal style, which evokes the panorama of a young man's life – birth, army service, marriage, job, parenthood, old age – within the brief span of its action. (Premiered in 1972 at Circle Repertory Theatre; Cast: 5 female, 5 male)
Brontosaurus: a wealthy antiques dealer is dealing with her sullen nephew who is staying with her. (Premiered in 1977 at Circle Repertory Theatre; Cast: 2 female, 1 male)
Thymus Vulgaris is about the homecoming of Ruby's daughter, Evelyn, a call girl who plans to go straight by marrying a grapefruit tycoon, one of her former clients. A very funny yet poignant study of two ladies of easy virtue (mother and daughter) whose fortunes are about to take a decided turn for the better. (Premiered in 1981 at Circle Repertory Theatre; Cast: 2 female, 1 male)
Breakfast At The Track takes the audience into the hotel room of a young married couple at dawn. He is an early riser, and she is a late sleeper. Their 6:30 a.m. battle over whether to rise and shine is amusing insight into the delicacy of the wedded state. (Premiered in 1983 at Circle Repertory Theatre; Cast: 1 female, 1 male)
Say de Kooning pits an artist and two female lovers against the very strains of modern life they hoped to escape by summering at the beach. Not even there, though, can they avoid the pitfalls of their own demanding personalities. (Premiered in 1987 at Sanford Meisner Theatre; Cast: 2 female, 1 male)
A Betrothal brings you into the cutthroat world of a flower breeders' competition, where delicacy meets domination. Lanford Wilson's classic brings us two irises and two competitors, as different as a cabbage and a violet – and one ingenious chance to win. (Premiered in 1987 at Sanford Meisner Theatre; Cast: 1 female, 1 male)
Abstinence ostensibly involves a party for recovering alcoholics, but it morphs into something else entirely. (Premiered in 1988 at Circle Repertory Theatre; Cast: 3 female, 2 male)
A Poster Of The Cosmos: The place is a Manhattan police station, where a man, Tom, is being interrogated about a mysterious crime. (Premiered in 1988 at Ensemble Studio Theatre; Cast: 1 male)
The Moonshot Tape: An extended monologue in which a young but already successful writer returns to her Missouri roots and an interview with a reporter (unseen) for her hometown newspaper. (Premiered in 1990 at at the Humboldt State University; Cast: 1 female)
Eukiah: Butch's haunting call for the toddler-like, 16 year-old Eukiah to come out of the shadows echoes through an abandoned airplane hangar. What does Eukiah know, and what does he think he knows about a plot to kill racehorses for insurance money? This brooding exploration of power lures us into a dimly lit corridor where truth and trust lean precariously against one another. (Premiered in 1991 at Actor's Theatre of Louisville; Cast: 2 male)

What people say:

"To read this anthology of Lanford Wilson's short plays is to take an exhilarating free fall through three decades of history...By the time you reach a later piece...you will begin to grasp the extraordinary emotional, historical and theatrical span of a writer who illuminates the deepest dramas of American life with poetry and compassion." — New York Times

"The short plays in this collection, spanning more than 20 years of Wilson's writing, are arranged chronologically, starting in 1964 and ending in 1991. The early works reflect the 'shock' threater of the 1960s while the later selections show the growth and maturation of an accomplished writer. For most entries, Wilson includes notes that let him explain his thoughts or inspirations. This collection is an absorbing rendition of a playwright's voice, and the format is well suited to the reader's edification." — Library Journal

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 theatres 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.