Jack Gelber was born in Chicago, Illinois, on April 12, 1932, the son of Harold and Molly (née Singer) Gelber. The playwright once said that as a high school student, he passed the time playing the tuba and attending movies and burlesque shows, but he never went to the legitimate theater, that he did not even know the theater existed until he went to college. The Russian novelists Ivan Turgenev, Maxim Gorky, and Nikolai Gogol originally attracted him as well as Rainer Maria Rilke and the German expressionists. He has also expressed an interest in Buddhism and in “religious states of being.”
During the summers of his undergraduate years at the University of Illinois, Urbana, Gelber followed his father’s trade as a sheet-metal worker; he was also a shipfitter’s helper in San Francisco and a mimeograph operator for the United Nations. Gelber was graduated from the university with a B.S. in journalism in 1953, and he wrote poetry before turning to dramaturgy. He became involved in Julian Beck and Judith Malina’s Living Theatre , an experimental theater group, which mounted The Connection under Malina’s direction for a run of 768 performances. The Apple was also written to be performed by the Living Theatre (64 performances). These first two plays have been performed in a number of foreign countries, including Brazil, England, France, Germany, and Italy. Square in the Eye (31 performances) was also intended to be staged...
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