Driving Miss Daisy

by Alfred Uhry

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Critical Context

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Alfred Uhry’s body of work includes songs, adaptations, librettos, musical works, and film scripts. Driving Miss Daisy was originally written for his family members and first staged in a theater that would hold approximately seventy-five people. Uhry has noted that he was surprised at the play’s subsequent and overwhelmingly wide appeal. When the play was made into a film, he received an Academy Award for best screenplay adaptation. Composer Robert Waldman, his long-standing collaborator with whom he worked as lyricist and librettist for The Robber Bridegroom (pr. 1975, pb. 1978; based on the novella by Eudora Welty), also composed the music for the premiere of Driving Miss Daisy. The expertise Uhry gained in his musicals Here’s Where I Belong (pr. 1968; based on John Steinbeck’s East of Eden, 1955) and America’s Sweetheart (pr. 1985), in addition to his career as a teacher of playwriting and lyric writing, provided the technical expertise for Driving Miss Daisy, although the characters were modeled after his own relatives and acquaintances. In his preface to the play, he attributes the play’s remarkable success to the fact that “I wrote what I knew to be the truth and people have recognized it as such.”

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Critical Overview