Lee Blessing Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Though Lee Blessing is most widely known as a writer for the stage, he has also written more than twenty screenplays. In collaboration with Jeanne Blake, Blessing has written episodes for the television series Nothing Sacred, Homicide: Life on the Street, and Picket Fences. He also wrote the full-length screenplay Cooperstown (1993).


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

As a playwright, Lee Blessing has proven himself to be quite versatile—having explored everything from family dramas to historical dramas, political dramas, and message plays. Throughout this body of work, his emphasis on the exploration of contemporary issues has defined his personal style. Blessing’s plays have ambitiously tackled some of the more difficult issues of the late twentieth century, including the nuclear arms race, the AIDS (acquired immunodeficiency syndrome) epidemic, modern racism, gay rights, and the Gulf War.

His most successful work to date, A Walk in the Woods, is a perfect example of the mirror that Blessing has attempted to hold up to the world around him. A Walk in the Woods received the 1987 American Theater Critics award and the George and Elizabeth Marton award, as well as nominations for 1987 Tony, Olivier, and Pulitzer awards. A simple, personalized look at Russian-American arms negotiations, A Walk in the Woods is his only work to have been performed on Broadway. Awards he has received for his other works include the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award and the Dramalogue Award.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Blake, Betty, and Joan Marlowe. “A Walk in the Woods.” New York Theatre Critics’ Reviews 49, no. 3 (February 1, 1988): 346-353. This journal includes ten different newspapers’ reviews of A Walk in the Woods.

Blessing, Lee. “Accidents in a Moral Universe.” American Theatre 18, no. 8 (October, 2001): 10. Remarks by Blessing to the 2001 graduating class of Reed College, his alma matter.

Blessing, Lee. “Action Versus Action.” American Theatre 12, no. 4 (April, 1995): 64. Blessing talks about his views on the modernization of drama and the influences of television and computers on drama as a form. Talks about reaching a mass audience with live theater and how the live experience is irreplaceable.

Gussow, Mel. “Review/Theater: Trying to Grasp an AIDS Tragedy.” The New York Times, April 29, 1993, p. 18. In this review, the play Patient A is discussed, as well as Blessing’s call to renew urgency about issues surrounding the AIDS crisis.

Hershenson, Roberta. “Two Rooms Enlists Hostages’ Help.” The New York Times, January 28, 1996, p. 4. This article details the story of actual hostages who acted as consultants to a production of Two Rooms.

Oliva, Judy Lee. “Blessing, Lee (Knowlton).” Contemporary American Dramatists. Detroit, Mich.: St. James Press, 1999. Contains a short summary of Blessing’s life and catalogs his plays and awards. Analyzes Blessing’s body of work, as well as his plays Nice People Dancing to Country Music, Eleemosynary, Two Rooms, Independence, Riches, and A Walk in the Woods. Comments on Blessing’s idiosyncratic characters and witty dialogue.

Weber, Bruce. Review of Two Rooms. The New York Times, November 22, 2001, p. E13. A review of the Heron Theater production written just prior to the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York City.