Jon Robin Baitz is a dramatist who, at the age of thirty, captured national attention with only two successfully produced plays in New York. Two earlier plays, one a failure and the other a moderate success, along with a play for public television, constitute the work for which fellow playwrights such as John Guare and critics such as Robert Brustein have lauded him, the latter placing Baitz in the company of Sam Shepard and David Mamet. Baitz’s not-so-fictional universe is that of unprincipled corporate wealth and private greed, monsters whose tentacles have reached out and strangled any moral sensibility in the last decades of the twentieth century. If Mamet and Shepard are artists of the inarticulate, Baitz cultivates the articulate, easily moving in a given play among a range of styles—realism, expressionism, Surrealism, naturalism. His creation of a modern Dantean myth includes references to contemporary figures such as Richard M. Nixon, Henry A. Kissinger, Margaret Thatcher, even George Bush. International mergers, corporate and private greed, Swiss bank accounts, AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), poverty, and racial bigotry are among the moral diseases that poison Baitz’s stage universe. What little redemption Baitz finds in the world is, as with E. M. Forster, that of personal connection. He finds ideology becoming increasingly laughable and irrelevant. In style or theme, his plays have been likened to those of Caryl Churchill, Joe Orton, Simon Gray, and Tom Stoppard.
Baitz, Jon Robin. “Conscientious Objector: An Interview with Jon Robin Baitz.” Interview by Randall Short. Vogue, January, 1996, 68. Examines Baitz’s concept of political theater as a forum for public debate without interference from the playwright’s private agenda.
Baitz, Jon Robin. “A Conversation with Jon Robin Baitz.” American Theatre 10 (March, 1993): 66. Interview that focuses on Baitz’s experiences in South Africa and his response to the Holocaust as an American Jew one generation removed from World War II.
Baitz, Jon Robin. “The Substance of Robin Baitz.” Interview by Porter Anderson. Theater Week (April 27-May 3, 1992): 20-24. This interview with Baitz is an important source of biographical information, and it shows Baitz’s attitudes (resulting from his personal experiences) toward society.
Baitz, Jon Robin. “A Wedding of Worlds: Playwriting and Scriptwriting.” American Theatre 14 (March, 1997): 48. Revealing essay on the role of the diminishing impact of the theater and the special challenges of scriptwriting.
Chaillet, Ned. “Jon Robin Baitz.” In Contemporary Dramatists, edited by Thomas Riggs. 6th ed. Detroit: St. James Press, 1999. Concentrates on Baitz’s early successes, with a focus on his internationalism.
Feingold, Michael. “Foreign Entanglements.” The Village Voice 10 (March 5, l996): 69. Includes a review of A Fair Country. Makes the point that Baitz’s plays reveal a pattern in which a strong father figure invariably is the linchpin who either is a manipulative demon who stops at nothing to keep his family together or a hollow man who has lost all sense of...
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