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The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds
Your Price: $17.95 CDN
Biz Staff Pick!
Author: Paul Zindel
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service (cover may change)
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 56
Pub. Date: 1998
ISBN-10: 0822203502
ISBN-13: 9780822203506
Cast Size: 5 female (or 2 female, 3 girls)

About the Play:

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds has long been a favourite of acting teachers for female monologues and female/female scenes.

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds is a full-length drama by Paul Zindel. One of Off-Broadway's greatest successes, this powerful and moving study of an embittered, vindictive widow and her two young daughters has been hailed as one of the most significant and affecting plays of our time. The storyline follows that of a dysfunctional family and the main character Tillie, who defies the work of her mother's manipulation. She embodies the spirit of a survivor and follows her path to self discovery. The title refers to the girl's high school science experiment.

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds revolves around the dysfunctional family consisting of single mother and her two daughters who try to cope with their abysmal status in life. Frowzy, acid-tongued, supporting herself and her two daughters by taking in a decrepit old boarder, Beatrice Hunsdorfer wreaks a petty vengeance on everybody around her. One daughter, Ruth, is a pretty but highly strung girl subject to convulsions; while the younger daughter, Matilda, plain and almost pathologically shy, has an intuitive gift for science. Encouraged by her teacher, Tillie undertakes a gamma ray experiment with marigolds that wins a prize at her high school – and also brings on the shattering climax of the play. Proud and yet jealous, too filled with her own hurts to accept her daughter's success, Beatrice can only maim when she needs to love and deride when she wants to praise. Tortured, acerbic, slatternly, she is as much a victim of her own nature as of the cruel lot that has been hers. And yet, as Tillie's experiment proves, something beautiful and full of promise can emerge from even the most barren, afflicted soil. This is the timeless lesson of the play and the root of its moving power and truth. 

The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds premiered in 1964 at the Alley Theatre in Houston. It took Off-Broadway by storm in 1970 at the Mercer Arts Center, winning every possible prize, including the Pulitzer, the Drama Critics Circle Award, an Obie, and several other awards that season. It was then on Broadway in 1978 at the Biltmore Theatre. The play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and has been produced hundreds of times in regional, school, and community theatres.

Cast: 5 female (or 2 female, 3 girls)

What people say:

"Let's start with a single, simple word. Power…I don't know of a better (play) of its genre since The Glass Menagerie…." — New York Post

"The play itself is one of the lucky blooms; it survives, and is beautiful." — New York Times

"Off-Broadway has been gifted with a great human drama…." — New York Daily News

"Paul Zindel has written a masterful, pacesetting drama. It combines moments of pain, poignancy, beauty, and hope. It is the most compelling work of its kind since Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie." — Variety

"The ultimate accolade must go to Paul Zindel for creating a psychologically perceptive ambiance. Shame hangs in the air of this house and palpably as poison gas. And yet, Zindel reminds us, strong, strange, beautiful flowers spring from such compost heaps. It is a troubling thought, one of the honest and intelligent values of this splendid and tormented play." — Time Magazine

About the Playwright:

Paul Zindel (1936-2003) was an American playwright, author, and educator, who turned tales of troubled teenagers into a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and a string of young adult novels. He was discovered in the mid-1960s by Charlotte Zolotow, who had seen a television production of his play, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds and decided that he must try his hand at young adult fiction. Paul Zindel went on to become a pioneer in the genre and has received numerous accolades and citations for his young adult novels. Several of his books have been named ALA Best Book for Young Adults and New York Times Outstanding Book of the Year.

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