Clifford Odets: Contribution as American Playwright

Also Read

      Clifford Odets (1906-1963), was born in Philadelphia, the son of middle lass Jewish immigrants. He left school at the age of 17 to become an actor, working in radio and playing small parts in stock companies and then, in Theatre Guild productions. In 1931, he helped the Threat Guild to found in which he initially participated as an actor. One act of his play Awake and Single was given trail in 1933 but it was rejected for the production. Then in 1935 he wrote Waiting for Lefty in response to the New Theater League contest for one act plays. Till the Day I die is a short anti Nazi play he wrote quickly for the purpose. He gradually became a master of social drama, came from and Eastern European, Jewish immigrant background. Raised in New York City, he became one of the original acting members of the Group Theater directed by Harold Clunnan, Lee Strasberg, and Cheryl Crawford, which was committed to producing only Native American dramas. Odets’s best-known play was Waiting for Lefty (1935), an experimental one-act drama that fervently advocated the labor unionism. His Awake and Single, a nostalgic family drama, became another popular success.

       In 1934 Odets joined the Communist Party but soon resigned. He made clear to the American Activities Committee that he cannot write on the line of the party. His second full-length play Paradise Lost (1935) dealt with the disintegration of middle class family as the result of the Depression. He then accepted the lucrative offer of writing Hollywood script writing and return to see a new play The Golden Boy (1937) through production by the Group Theatre. This play became a commercial success as it tells the story of Joe Bonaparte, a talented young Italian violinist to chose to become a prize-fighter, and thereby destroying his talent, his integrity and finally himself and also woman he loves. Like Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby and Dreiser’s An American Tragedy, the play warns against excessive ambition and materialism. His later plays are - The Rocket to the Moon (1938), Night Music (1940), Clash by Night (1941), The Big Knife (1949) and The Country Girl (1950). Odets’s last play The Flowering Peach (1954) retells the story of Noah’s ark.

      Odets, period of literature is full of innovation and experiments with different literary forms like novel, poetry and drama. There were the 15 teen lokmat realism, romanticism and expressionism. There were also traditional forms some of the writers retained conventions of writing. It is also full of tumult, frustration and hopelessness of feelings emotions of the pre-war period and between the war period. There, the exuberance of literary production in all respects and along with that, the film was also fostered. The relation between the drama, film and novel increased significantly though in its early phase of development as audio-visual media.

Previous Post Next Post