Waiting for Lefty

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Dramatists Play Service Inc, 1962 - Drama - 32 pages
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THE STORY: The action of the play is comprised of a series of varied, imaginatively conceived episodes, which blend into a powerful and stirring mosaic. The opening scene is a hiring hall where a union leader (obviously in the pay of the bosses) is trying to convince a committee of workers (who are waiting for their leader, Lefty, to arrive) not to strike. This is followed by a moving confrontation between a discouraged taxi driver, who cannot earn enough to live on, and his angry wife, who wants him to show some backbone and stand up to his employer; a revealing scene between a scheming boss and the young worker who refuses to spy on his fellow employees; a sad/funny episode centering on a young cabbie and his would-be bride, who lack the wherewithal to get married; a disturbing scene involving a senior doctor and the underpaid young intern (a labor activist) whom the doctor has been ordered to discharge; and, finally, a return to the union hall where the workers, learning that Lefty has been gunned down by the powers-that-be, resolve at last to stand up for their rights and to strike-and to stay off their jobs until their grievances are finally heard and acted upon by those who have so cynically exploited and misused them.

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About the author (1962)

With Lillian Hellman, Odets remains one of the foremost U.S. dramatists of the 1930s. Born in Philadelphia, he became an actor about 1923 and joined the Group Theatre upon its founding in 1930. From then until its collapse in 1940, the Group Theatre produced seven plays by Odets, all of which reflect the Depression era in which they were written. His first play, Waiting for Lefty (1935), an agitprop play about strikers, was an enormous success. Most of his other plays of the 1930s, most notably Awake and Sing (1935) and Paradise Lost (1935), concern the economic and psychological plight of poor New York City Jewish families and heighten middle-class Jewish speech into a kind of poetry. After the collapse of the Group Theatre, Odets produced only four more plays. Odets was criticized, however, for betraying his leftist sympathies when he named names before the House Un-American Activities Committee during the McCarthy era.

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