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The Typists and The Tiger

The Typists and The Tiger
Your Price: $16.95 CDN
Author: Murray Schisgal
Publisher: Dramatists Play Service
Format: Softcover
# of Pages: 120
Pub. Date: 1963
ISBN-10: 0822211505
ISBN-13: 9780822211501

About the Play:

The Typists and The Tiger contains two one-act plays by Murray Schisgal. These two short plays, which were instantly successful when they premiered as a double-bill in 1960, may be presented separately or as an evening of entertainment. Each play still "hits the nail on the head" about what we do to fit in, and how much we'll fight to break that same mold. With the uncertainty that prevails in society today, we are all fighting to find our place in it, or out of it. Whether in the office or where we ought not be, we still search for the right side to be on.

The Typists tells the story of two people, spending their lives at as typists (the people who used to manually typewrite addresses on promotional materials companies would send out). When Paul Cunningham reports for work addressing postcards for a mail-order house, he makes it clear to his fellow worker, Sylvia Payton, that his employment is strictly temporary. Paul, a married man, is studying law at night, and with his uncle already in successful practice there is every hope that his future will be a promising one. Sylvia, the "supervisor" of the two-employee office, has a few dreams herself – mostly of the romantic variety so often indulged in by not so young spinsters with widowed mothers to support. Paul and Sylvia hit it off well, and as Paul's "temporary" tenure stretches on from weeks to months to years they become involved in the shared experiences of close daily contact. And, within the short span of the play, they begin to age and grow gray. While they go on chattering of the important things that have happened to them and of the bright future that will be coming up any day, the futility of their existence becomes increasingly evident. And when they finally dodder off with friendly "good night" to their unseen employer we have witnessed a cycle of life complete with the humour, sadness, self-delusion and reconciliation that underlie and infuse the human condition. (Cast: 1 woman, 1 man)

The Tiger is the tale of a kidnapper and his victim. Ben is a naturally bright but slightly unstrung young man in revolt against a system which consigns him to being a disgruntled mail carrier and to living in a tumble-down basement apartment. In a gesture of defiance he kidnaps a young woman and drags her to his lair, the object being that she, at least, will do as and what he orders – fulfilling the urge for domination that life has hitherto denied him. At first Ben is abrupt and sharp with his victim, playing cat and mouse with her in the hope that she will begin to panic and squirm. But while Gloria, a suburban housewife and mother, is hardly used to this sort of thing, she also an equally complicated relationship to the world. At first she must listen, but soon she is the one who leads the touching and funny conversation that ensues. Mutual confessions and confidences are forthcoming, and by the time Ben reveals that his dream of becoming a teacher was shattered by an inability to cope with French, Gloria is ready and willing to take on the job of tutoring him. But he sticks to his resolve to have his way with her and she, in turn, fools him again by being less the protesting victim than the willing conspirator. In the end he lets her go – but already she is making plans to drop by every Thursday when her dull husband will take it for granted that she is off playing bridge with friends. (Cast: 1 woman, 1 man)

The Typists and The Tiger were first seen in London in 1960 and The Typists was presented at the Edinburgh Festival in 1961. The Typists and The Tiger premiered in New York off Broadway on a double-bill at the Orpheum Theatre in 1963, ran for 200 performances, and won the Outer Critics Circle Award for Best New Playwright. Each play has become a favourite scene study vehicle in acting classes and workshops and is regularly performed in regional repertory, high school, college, and community theatre productions.

About the Playwright:

Murray Schisgal (1926-2020) was a Tony and Academy Award nominated American playwright and screenwriter best known for co-writing the screenplay for Tootsie. He attended Brooklyn Law School from which he graduated in 1953. He practised law until 1956 and then taught English for three years. He had an extensive career spanning writing plays, novels, anthologies, science fiction, and play producing. He has a star on the Playwrights Sidewalk for Off-Broadway Achievement in New York. He has also produced several films and television programs.