#Plays Thornton Wilder
16. by Thornton Wilder
Finish date: 19 January 2022
Bad news: The plays felt like homework, outdated lacking in any kind of spark of enjoyment. Every time I started a new play …it was only to get it done and hope the end of the book would put me out of my misery.
Bad news: I still had enough enthusiasm after a good lunch… to start the last 12 one act plays. I only like 2! So it was a very low return on investment. I literally fell asleep reading part II.
Good news: Stage directions: stage appearance, characters arrangement alone or in clusters…that was the best part of the plays I read. I needed some visual to get my through my reading. I will share one for Pullman Car Hiawatha by Harry Feiner Theater Design It helped me so much to understand what was going on in the play. IMO this was the best play in the book because it was so unconventional. Strange play….but oh, what a talent Wilder must have been to create this dialogue!! I liked Wilder’s use of a stage manager that breaks the 4th wall and speaks to the audience.
Personal These are not plays you can just jump into….there is a lot of allegory embedded in Thornton’s writing. Try to at least read a summary of the play beforehand. Here is an excellent resource for many of Wilder’s works…all in one website! The Wilder Society
Thornton Wilder….who mentions his name when asked for 3 great American playwrights? Not me! The spotlight is always on Tennessee Williams, Eugene O’Neill and Arthur Miller. But Wilder is one of the greatest writers of art of allegorical narrative…and that is always difficult to understand and digest. Malcolm Cowley (literary critic 1898-1989) reveals: “(Wilder is) one of the toughest and most complicated minds in contemporary America.” Amen to that!
We all have read Wilder’s play Our Town and he novel The Bridge of San Luis Ray (Pulitzer Prize 1928)..in high-school …so if you’ve read them there is no reason to venture into the one-act plays in this book.