Odets’ Awake and Sing Becomes a Model for Protest Drama (Great Events from History II: Arts and Culture Series)
Article abstract: Awake and Sing depicted the social and economic consequences of the Great Depression for three generations of a working-class Jewish-American family in the Bronx.
Summary of Event
Awake and Sing is largely a product of Clifford Odets’ success after Waiting for Lefty (1935) catapulted him to instant prominence in 1935 by winning the New Masses/New Theatre Award and galvanizing audiences during its first performance at the Civic Repertory Theatre in lower Manhattan. Waiting for Lefty, about a strike of taxicab drivers, was written in three days and could not have been more appropriate to its times.
Odets, a member of the Group Theatre, had acted in a few of its plays and was an indifferent actor. He lived with members of the Group Theatre during summers in the countryside outside New York City and during winters in the sprawling tenement they had rented collectively on New York’s West Fifty-seventh Street. In 1933, he wrote I’ve Got the Blues, which later that year was retitled Awake and Sing. The play was optioned to Frank Merlin, who shortly afterward went bankrupt. Odets read his script to members of the Group Theatre in hopes that they would produce it.
The play focuses on the social adjustments that a three-generation working-class Jewish-American family in the Bronx faces as the Great Depression gradually robs them of their...
(The entire section is 2092 words.)
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