Robert Schenkkan Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Besides writing plays, Robert Schenkkan has also acted in them. His stage debut came in Chicago as Captain Tim in Tobacco Road (1975), and his Off-Broadway debut came as Wayne Blossom, Jr., in Last Days at the Dixie Girl Cafe in 1979. His other New York City appearances include The Taming of the Shrew at the Equity Library Theatre (1977) and G. R. Point at the Playhouse Theatre (1979). Outside of New York City, Schenkkan appeared in Write Me a Murder (Buffalo, New York, 1981), A Full Length Portrait of America and SWOP (both in Louisville, Kentucky, 1981), and A Midsummer Night’s Dream and All the Way Home at the Kenyon Theatre Festival in Ohio.

Schenkkan has also written for and acted in films. His cinema credits include roles in Act of Vengeance (1974), Sanctuary of Fear (1979), the Texas Voice in Places in the Heart (1984), Sweet Liberty (1986), The Bedroom Window (1987), Amazing Grace and Chuck (1987), and Pump Up the Volume (1990). His first television appearance was in the National Broadcasting Company’s (NBC’s) Father Brown, Detective (1979), followed by the Columbia Broadcasting System (CBS) film Murder in Cowetta County (1980), the CBS miniseries George Washington (1983), Kane and Abel (CBS, 1984), Nutcracker (CBS, 1987), and several episodes of The Twilight Zone (CBS). He also appeared as Lieutenant Commander Dexter Remmick in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Episodes 19 and 25 (1988). He edited Henrik Ibsen’s The Wild Duck (1966), Peer Gynt (1966), and co-translated Ibsen’s Hedda Gabler (1975). He wrote the teleplay for The Long Ride Home (TNT, 2001) and adapted The Kentucky Cycle for Kevin Costner for a Home Broadcasting Office (HBO) miniseries. With Christopher Hampton, he wrote the screenplay for a film adaptation of Graham Greene’s The Quiet American (2002).


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Robert Schenkkan has been widely recognized for both his long epic play, The Kentucky Cycle, and his one-act plays, and the profession has showered him with awards and grants. He was given the Best of the Fringe Award from the Edinburgh Festival for The Survivalist (1984), a Creative Artists Public Service Program (CAPS) grant from the state of New York for Final Passages (1985), a California Arts Council grant, grants from the Arthur and the Vogelstein Foundations, a Playwrights Forum Award for Tall Tales (1988), three Denver Drama Critics Awards, the Julie Harris Playwright Award from the Beverly Hills Theatre Guild for Heaven on Earth (1989), a Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, a PEN Center Award, and the 1992 Pulitzer Prizein Drama for The Kentucky Cycle.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

American Theatre. Review of Handler, by Robert Schenkkan. 17, no. 4 (April, 2000): 34. A review of one of Schenkkan’s early plays.

Billings, Dwight B., Gurney Norman, and Katherine Ledford. Confronting Appalachian Stereotypes: Back Talk from an American Region. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1999. The twenty-one essays in this collection aim at a truer picture of Appalachia than the editors feel is given in Schenkkan’s The Kentucky Cycle. The contributors are from various disciplines, including anthropology, history, health care, sociology, and political science.

Caudill, Harry. Night Comes to the Cumberlands: A Biography of a Depressed Area. 1976. Reprint. Ashland, Ky.: Jesse Stuart Foundation, 2001. Caudill was a journalist who wrote extensively about Kentucky history and was a source for Schenkkan’s work.

Reeves, Rhonda. “Fightin’ Words: Chris Offutt’s Latest Work Stirs the Home Fires.” Ace Weekly, April 2, 2002. Sharp criticism of Schenkkan mixed with other commentary on Southern writers.

Regan, Margaret. “Ravaged Landscape.” Review of The Kentucky Cycle, by Robert Schenkkan. Tucson Weekly (November 10, 1997). An examination of a performance of The Kentucky Cycle.

U.S. News and World Report. Review of The Kentucky Cycle, by Robert Schenkkan. 115 (September 20, 1993): 72-73. One of the most appreciative pieces on The Kentucky Cycle.