Waiting for Lefty

by Clifford Odets

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Last Updated on July 29, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 235

Compare Odets's working-class characters to the ways blue-collar workers are presented in three to four contemporary works of your own selection (sources can include movies, television, or books, as well as plays.) In your analysis, try to determine whether the differences you find are a function of: historical changes in the popular image of "the working class''; differences in the authors' intentions or beliefs; or differences of style and genre.

Research the 1934 New York taxi strike (the incident on which Waiting for Lefty is based). How closely does Odets follow the historical facts? What were the consequences of the real-life strike? Considering his purposes in the play, try to determine the reasons for any changes Odets made in adapting these "current events" for his fictional production.

Research the Communist Manifesto and outline its main arguments. Then, study the dialogue in Waiting for Lefty to find specific instances in which the characters advance that document's principles or echo its slogans. Write an essay that reports and analyzes your findings.

The counterculture of the 1960s revived the notion of using drama as a means for political change in "street theatre'' performances by groups like the San Francisco Mime Troupe and the staging of propaganda plays. Research this development, in newspapers and periodicals of that time. How does the radical theatre of the 1930s compare to its 1960s counterpart? In what, if any, significant ways did it change?

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