Steve Tesich Analysis

Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Steve Tesich is best known as a screenwriter because of the critical and popular success of his first screenplay, Breaking Away (1979). He had five screenplays produced in the 1980’s, the most successful of which was The World According to Garp (1982), an adaptation of John Irving’s novel. Tesich also published the novel Summer Crossing (1982), a coming-of-age story set in East Chicago, Indiana. Both the screenplays and the novel draw heavily on his own experiences and have been praised for their intriguing characters.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Steve Tesich has been called the United States’ cheerleader because of the optimism expressed in his early absurdist comedies for the land “where anything is possible.” He demonstrated a unique ability to create fully developed, if eccentric, characters, individualized dialogue, and outrageous situations. His early plays are significant as commentaries on the faith of the United States’ promise in the 1970’s and his later plays on the outrage of that nation’s unrealized promise in the late 1980’s. He received many awards including the Vernon Rice Award and Drama Desk Award for Baba Goya; the Writer’s Guild Award, the New York Film Critics Circle Award, the National Society of Film Critics Award, and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Original Screenplay Award for Breaking Away; and the National Board of Review Exceptional Film Award for The World According to Garp.


(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Brandes, Philip. “Theater Beat: Tesich’s Dark Humor Drives This Open Road.” Review of On the Open Road, by Steve Tesich. Los Angeles Times, October 20, 2000, p. F28. This review of a performance of Tesich’s On the Open Road provides insight into this play as a vehicle for conveying the playwright’s views about morality in modern life.

Coen, Stephanie. “Steve Tesich: The Only Kind of Real Rebel Left, He Figures, Is a Moral Person.” American Theatre 9, no. 4 (July, 1992): 30. This profile of Tesich concentrates on his views of moral issues and how they are reflected in plays such as On the Open Road.

Dudar, Helen. “As One Playwright Strikes Out for the Future . . .” The New York Times, February 19, 1990, p. B5, 20. Written on the premiere eve of Square One, then the first new Tesich play in New York in ten years, this article briefly describes the “new Tesich.” Dudar finds that he is no longer the United States’ cheerleader, having lost his sense of wonder, and that he has learned to write from others’ experiences, not only from his own.

“Playwright Steve Tesich Dies at Age Fifty-Three.” The Washington Post, July 4, 1996, p. B5. This obituary sums up the life and works of the playwright and screenwriter.

Rothstein, Mervyn. “Morality’s the Thing for This Playwright.” The New York Times, March 12, 1991, p. C11, 13. In response to the relatively successful Broadway opening of The Speed of Darkness, Tesich explains how he has changed in the decade since his early plays. He now is concerned with “moral issues,” such as this play’s decrial of the United States’ refusal to deal with the aftermath of the Vietnam War. Photograph.

Shteir, Rachel. “The World According to Tesich.” The Village Voice, June 18, 1996, 88. Tesich discusses Arts and Leisure and explains how the play about a drama critic is critical of what he views as people’s excessive desire to dramatize their lives.

“Steve Tesich.” In Current Biography Yearbook. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1991. This profile of Tesich, published five years before his death, examines his plays and screenplays.