Waiting for Lefty is the best strike play to come out of the Great Depression. Basing his work on a 1934 taxi strike in New York, Clifford Odets wrote the play in three days for a contest of one-act plays that workers could stage at their own meeting places, and soon it was being performed everywhere. The action takes place within the semicircle defined by the members of the strike committee, and scene changes are defined largely by lighting. The lights on the committee are darkened when they become a chorus commenting on action in other times and places, and the lights come back up when the action returns to the committee’s meeting. The audience of the play represents the union membership, and characters attending the meeting are seated among audience members. Those who attended early performances of the play streamed out of the theatre chanting “Strike! Strike!” as if they had been caught up in a strike vote themselves.
Waiting for Lefty caused a bit of a sensation when it was first staged in 1935, with its heady brew of in-yer-face theatricality and agit-prop socialism exploding like a Molotov cocktail in the New York theatre scene before going on to make an equal impact all around the United States. It made the name of young actor and playwright Clifford Odets and the collective Group Theatre he was a part of, tapping into the zeitgeist of capitalism in crisis during the Great Depression.
Odets (...) while describing himself as "a man of the Left", was, with the possible exception of his first play, Waiting for Lefty, no innovator where form was concerned. He attempted a poetic realism, but it was still trying to represent real people in actual social relationships. And this was perhaps inevitable given his actor's temperament as well as his marxist commitment; he had the revolutionary's eye on the great public, on the reconstitution of power once a failed capitalism had been brought down - for such was the Marxist and non-Marxist Left position on the proper moral obligation of the artist. But by temperament he was a poet seeking words that would lift him into a takeoff, regardless of his realist political commitment.
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Waiting for Lefty study guide contains a biography of Clifford Odets, literature essays, quiz questions, major themes, characters, and a full summary.
Waiting for Lefty essaysEvery now and then an innovative play will come a long and astound the theatre world. Sometimes the play will triumph for pleasant.
Waiting for Lefty has 400 ratings and 17 reviews. One of the most celebrated and significant plays of the modern American theatre, WAITING FOR LEFTY.
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Yonnondio and Waiting for Lefty English Essay StudentShare HowlRound Clifford Odets iconic play Waiting for Lefty was first produced for The Group Theatre in New York City pictured above Lefty a play about a taxi
“Waiting for Lefty.” In Critical Essays on Clifford ..
A man named Agate talks to the taxi drivers, insulting their weakness and insulting Fatt. Fatt and his armed guard try to detain him, but Agate eludes them. Agate proclaims that if "we're reds because we wanna strike, then we take over their salute too!" He makes a Communist salute. Agate incites the drivers with fiery rhetoric about the rich killing them off. He tells them to "unite and fight!" and not to wait for Lefty, who may never arrive. A man runs in and reports that Lefty has just been found, shot dead. Agate yells to his fellow union men, "... Our Bones and Blood!" and leads them in a chorus of "Strike!"