Jitterbugging - Scenes of Sex in Society & An American Comedy & Rip van Winkle

Jitterbugging - Scenes of Sex in Society & An American Comedy & Rip van Winkle $19.99

Richard Nelson

Published by Broadway Play Publishing

From the introduction by Robert Marx, Executive Director of the New York Public Library for the Performing Arts:

The plays in this volume were written by Richard Nelson between 1981 and 1983--years in which he struggled to balance alienation and hope. His productive, but difficult early career ends with this work. His mature career as an American playwright of international acclaim would soon begin. The intersection of politics and morality is central to Richard's plays. From the start, he has been a socially conscious and provocative writer whose values were defined largely by the anti-war and counter-culture experiences of 1960s America. With the election of the Reagan Administration in 1980, most of us who saw the world through the political prism of our 1960s youth felt despondent.... ...Like Arthur Miller's THE CRUCIBLE, Nelson used American myth and history as a potent metaphor against a rapacious contemporary society. What McCarthyism was to THE CRUCIBLE, Reaganism is to RIP VAN WINKLE. The bleak fury of Nelson's BAL and PINOCCHIO is pushed here to epic ends. Rip becomes an American King Lear, defying the storms of a new industrial nation....

With AN AMERICAN COMEDY and JITTERBUGGING Nelson moved to gentler terrain.... AN AMERICAN COMEDY... is an homage to the screwball American comedies of George Abbott, Hecht & MacArthur and Kaufman & Hart, with a bit of Italy's Dario Fo brought into the mix. An outright farce about Broadway playwrights meeting a deadline, Nelson juggles an absurd mix of American art, politics and theatrical commerce with more than a little self-parody and respect for the humor of survival. Although it was not produced until 1989, JITTERBUGGING was written in 1983. It is...Schnitzler's LA RONDE, a cynical turn-of-the-century romance that Nelson reinvented as a rueful American tale. Set in 1947, this cycle of brief sexual encounters in a seaside New England town contrasts the sadness of each manipulative liaison with the surface optimism of period songs. The World War has burned out; its passions are gone, too. What's left is a reflection of the play's subtitle: "Scenes of Sex in a New Society." Once again, Nelson is not far from the war of his own youth and its shallow aftermath. RIP VAN WINKLE is a thundering American epic. AN AMERICAN COMEDY celebrates loud Broadway farce. But JITTERBUGGING is mostly tender. It has an interior quality that suggests how ready Richard was in 1983 for a fresh approach. An opportunity for change occured soon afterwards, when Liviu Ciulei commissioned him to write a new version of THE THREE SISTERS for the Guthrie. That encounter with Chekhov proved to be a turning point for Richard's own style and led to the plays that established his strong reputation in England (BETWEEN EAST AND WEST and PRINCIPIA SCRIPTORIAE)...


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