FROM HER COLLEGE days onward, Dawn Powell dreamed of becoming a successful playwright. Indeed, over the course of four decades, she finished at least ten plays and was working on fashioning her novel The Golden Spur into a musical comedy during her final illness. Only two of her plays were mounted during her lifetime, however. This volume contains both of those works - Big Night which was produced by the legendary Group Theater in 1933, and Jigsaw, which was staged by the Theater Guild the following year. These are fast-paced, blunt-spoken - and very funny - comedies that directly anticipate the hard-boiled satire of such novels as Turn, Magic Wheel and Angels on Toast. Rounding out the book are two unpublished (and as yet unproduced) plays that Powell wrote in the late 1920s - the experimental, quasi-expressionist Women at Four O'Clock and a nostalgic, bittersweet story of old New York, Walking Down Broadway, which director Erich von Stroheim would later adapt into the Hollywood film Hello, Sister!
Eleven of Dawn Powell's fifteen novels are currently available in paperback from Steerforth Press, as well her widely acclaimed diaries. She died in 1965.
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MICHAEL SEXTON is a freelance director based in New York City. He has recently been an Artist in Residence at the Public Theater, the Resident Director at New Dramatists, and a Visiting Professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He was born in Brooklyn.
TIM PAGE served, until recently, as the Pulitzer Prize-winning chief music critic for the Washington Post. He is the author of Dawn Powell: A Biography.
Powell (1896-1965) was recognized for writing novels, diaries, and letters about her life as a small-town girl who came to the big city to achieve fame and wealth. But Powell also wrote ten plays, four of which are collected here. Only two of themABig Night and Jig SawAwere ever produced, and they are included here, along with Women at Four O'Clock and Walking Down Broadway. Many critics debunked Powell's writing for its feminist skewering of men and society. But, according to editors Sexton and Page, Powell's works encompass a larger cloud of human nature, showing all the mistakes we make just by getting out of bed in the morning. For instance, Big Night tells the tale of an advertising salesman on the verge of unemployment who has invited a potential client from Chicago to dinner. The version included here was assembled by Sexton from two drafts found in the Dawn Powell Collection at Columbia University. Powell's plays, though not critical successes, are valued for the powerfully honest way characters are scrutinized to illuminate the fantasies and vanities that make us all human. Recommended for academic libraries.AJoyce Sparrow, St. Petersburg P.L., FL
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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