Critical Context

(Survey of Dramatic Literature)

William Gibson (he also used the pseudonym William Mass) wrote some one-act plays and Dinny and the Witches: A Frolic on Grave Matters (pr. 1948), published a book of poetry, and wrote a novel, The Cobweb (1954), but it was The Miracle Worker (pr. 1957), written as a television script for Playhouse 90, which really launched his career. As he writes in his preface to the published edition of Dinny and the Witches and the stage play The Miracle Worker (pr. 1959), he based the television script on letters written by Anne Sullivan that appear in the appendix to Helen Keller’s autobiography. When he adapted it for a 1959 Broadway production, it won the Tony Award for best play.

Before this time, however, Two for the Seesaw (originally written, but not published, under the title “After the Verb to Love”) had been accepted and successfully produced. Gibson believed that the tribulations involved in production were quite dreadful, and so he wrote The Seesaw Log (1959) as a narrative of the play’s journey from conception to its birth on Broadway, sparing none of the details of the difficult delivery. It is noteworthy that Gibson was particularly resentful of Henry Fonda’s insistence (as a well-known Hollywood star) on enlarging his role, which may have some bearing on the final characterization of Jerry Ryan.

With two commercial successes to his credit, Gibson was given...

(The entire section is 586 words.)