(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Members of the Bay Street Theatre Festival Committee in Long Island’s Hamptons hatched the original idea for By the Sea by the Sea by the Beautiful Sea. The community, the heart of which is Sag Harbor, is home to many writers, actors, and other celebrities. The committee proposed involving three of the area’s most notable playwrights—Terrence McNally, Joe Pintauro, and Lanford Wilson—in a collaborative effort that would eventuate in three one-act plays having to do with the sea and the beach. The plays would all take place on one day, respectively in the morning, at noon, and at sunset.

Wilson’s contribution to this collaborative effort is the middle play, “Day.” Pintauro wrote “Dawn,” and McNally wrote “Dusk.” The great challenge was to have a unified work rather than merely three one-act plays. The authors gathered to decide what the setting of each play would be, and they finally decided that the beach would become the unifying setting. After it was decided that dawn, day, and dusk would be times of the plays, the three playwrights drew straws to determine which time frame each would use. Each play was to have three characters, two women and one man, but they were to play different roles in the plays, each of whose characters was different.

Originally, one of the plays took place at a lifeguard station, one on a dock, and one on a stretch of beach. Finally, however, to increase the unity of the production, it...

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(Masterpieces of American Literature)

Barnett, Gene A. Lanford Wilson. Boston: Twayne, 1987.

Bryer, Jackson R., ed. Lanford Wilson: A Casebook. New York: Garland, 1994.

Busby, Mark. Lanford Wilson. Boise, Idaho: Boise State University, 1987.

Dasgupta, Gautam. “Lanford Wilson.” In American Playwrights: A Critical Survey, edited by Bonnie Marranca and Gautam Dasgupta. New York: Drama Book Specialists, 1981.

Dean, Anne M. Discovery and Invention: The Urban Plays of Lanford Wilson. Rutherford, N.J.: Fairleigh Dickinson University Press, 1994.

Gussow, Mel. “A Playwright at Home with Life’s Outsiders.” The New York Times, September 15, 2002, p. AR1.

Herman, William. Understanding Contemporary American Drama. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1987.

Hornsby, Richard Mark. “Miscarriages of Justice.” The Hudson Review 56 (Spring, 2003): 161-167.

Schvey, Henry I. “Images of the Past in the Plays of Lanford Wilson.” In Essays on Contemporary American Drama. Edited by Hedwig Bok and Albert Wertheim. Munich: Max Huber Verlag, 1981.

Williams, Philip Middleton. A Comfortable House: Lanford Wilson, Marshall W. Mason, and the Circle Repertory Theatre. Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland, 1993.