Critical Context

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

Jon Robin Baitz is one of the most-often produced dramatists of his generation, his plays having appeared around the United States and abroad. In his introduction to The Substance of Fire and Other Plays, Andre Bishop of Lincoln Center Theater characterizes Baitz’s works as “bold, stylistically audacious, occasionally disheveled and out to dazzle,” and adds, “If Arthur Miller had married Noël Coward, their son would have been Robbie Baitz.” Baitz is a recipient of Rockefeller and Revson fellowships, as well as the New York Newsday Oppenheimer Award and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. Baitz’s plays have been described as classically structured meditations on morality and are popular with both audiences and theater critics.

By 1992, when he had proven his success with two Off-Broadway productions, The End of the Day (pr. 1990, pb. 1993) and The Substance of Fire, The New York Times critic Frank Rich hailed Baitz as “a mature artist with a complete vision.” Four years later, he was one of three finalists for the 1996 Pulitzer Prize for his semiautobiographical A Fair Country (pb. 1996, pr. 1997). Well established as a promising and challenging playwright, Baitz began to explore other media. He has written and directed television plays, acted, and served in 1996 as both screenwriter and producer of the film version of The Substance of Fire.