Eric Overmyer Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Although Eric Overmyer’s reputation rests primarily on his stage plays, he has also written for film and television, most notably for such shows as St. Elsewhere, The Days and Nights of Molly Dodd, and the television movie Rear Window (1998), in which he blended the Cornell Woolrich short story with details from actor-producer Christopher Reeve’s book about life.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Eric Overmyer has received grants and fellowships from the McKnight Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York Foundation for the Arts, the Rockefeller Foundation, and Le Compte Du Nouy Foundation. In 1987 he received a grant to write a play for the South Coast Repertory Theater in Costa Mesa, California.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Andreach, Robert J. Creating the Self in the Contemporary American Theatre. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press, 1998. Andreach asserts that Overmyer’s Native Speech is about the collapse of the old world and that On the Verge concerns efforts to build a new world. Both plays, which are about language, involve people assimilating images from the unconscious with objects from the real world in order to survive.

Andreach, Robert J. “Overmyer’s Amphitryon: Adapting Kleist for a Contemporary Audience.” Papers on Language and Literature 36 (2000): 158-176. Andreach discusses several versions of the classical myth about Jupiter, Amphitryon, and Alcmena, and he argues that Overmyer’s Surrealistic adaptation modernizes the play at the same time that it contains anachronistic elements, cuts the long speeches, makes the marital relationship of the couple more contemporary and credible, and emphasizes love’s irrational power to motivate and affirm life.

DiGaetani, John L. A Search for a Postmodern Theater: Interviews with Contemporary Playwrights. New York: Greenwood Press, 1991. In his interview, Overmyer explains that his main concern in writing is language itself; naturalism, he believes, is best served by film and television. Because film is really a director’s medium, rather than a writer’s, Overmyer prefers writing for the theater, but his writing for film and television provides him with the money to support his playwriting.

Peterson, William. “The Heliotrope Bouquet by Scott Joplin and Louis Chauvin.” Theatre Journal 44 (1992): 403-404. Peterson describes Overmyer’s work as a “memory play in which Joplin’s memories clash with Chauvin’s.” While praising the production’s strong visual images, Peterson is not sympathetic with the treatment of Joplin as the Protestant stereotype of a failed black artist.

Wainscott, Ronal, and Kathy Fletcher. Review of On the Verge: Or, The Geography of Yearning, by Eric Overmyer. Theatre Journal 37 (1985): 357-358. The reviewers discuss the contrast between nineteenth century values and twentieth century ones in the play and comment on the language, which provides another contrast between contemporary slang and Victorian formal, polite discourse.