Curse of the Starving Class: A Play in Three Acts

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Dramatists Play Service Inc, 1976 - Drama - 68 pages
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(Three acts) This Obie Award-winning play, a darkly comic exploration of the American family psyche, is an expository look at four family members of the Tate family who live on a Californian farm. As the four characters shift into adolescence, adulthood and old age, they face the loss of their farm to debt and developers. Weston is the alcoholic father who has driven his family deep into debt. Ella is the mother who is seeking solace outside of her marriage and dreams of escape to exotic locations. Daughter Emma plans to become a mechanic, and pursues her 4-H projects and horseback fantasies with an adolescent?s intensity. Son Wesley looks for a way to keep his family together while changing from a boy to a man. Various secondary characters are interspersed in the story, each trying to exploit the family and take over their land. The play examines the death of the American family as hardship clouds all interaction and any mutual understanding is lost.

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User Review  - AliceAnna - LibraryThing

I just thought this was a piece of crap. The characters were ridiculous. The play doesn't work as a drama or as a farce, yet seems to want to be both. I obviously missed the point, but I DON'T CARE!!!! Read full review

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About the author (1976)

Shepard, one of the best dramatists currently writing in the United States, was born on an army base in Illinois and grew up mainly on a ranch in California. His first play was produced off-off-Broadway when he was 19, and he won the first of his 8 Obie Awards when he was 23. A rock lyricist and film actor as well as a dramatist, Shepard has written more than 40 plays, winning the Pulitzer Prize for drama with Buried Child (1981) in 1978. Shepard's plays show the impact of a variety of influences, including rock music, old movies, popular myths of the Old West, and the 1960s drug culture. His early plays, produced off- and off-off-Broadway, are short, bizarre, surrealistic pieces that tend to project images rather than provide ordered reflections of reality; they are characterized by compelling monologues. These plays culminate in his early masterpiece The Tooth of Crime (1981), a cross between rock concert and classical tragedy, which pits Hoss, the reigning superstar, in a verbal shoot-out against the challenger, Crow. Shepard's later work has become more realistic and more responsive to such traditional concepts of drama as plot, character, and theme. It has also brought to the forefront his previously occasional concern for the collapse of the American dream.True West (1980) is concerned with the tension between individuals, especially fathers and sons and brothers, and their struggle to define and assert their identities.Fool for Love (1983) is a masterfully constructed, searingly intense study of love, hate, and the dying myths of the Old West. And A Lie of the Mind (1986) is a landmark play revealing the mental and physical abuse that occurs in two desperate families. Bonnie Marranca has written that, "Shepard is the quintessential American playwright. His plays are American landscapes reflecting the country's iconography, myths, entertainments, archetypes, and---in a less glowing light---the corruption of its revolutionary ideals, and the disorientation of its times.

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