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America Hurrah - Full Length Play

America Hurrah

Jean-Claude van Itallie

Full Length Play

ISBN: 9780822200246

INTERVIEW. As Norman Nadel describes: "Four masked, smiling interviewe…

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DPS Acting Edition

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Full Length Play

INTERVIEW. As Norman Nadel describes: "Four masked, smiling interviewers interview a scrubwoman, a house painter, a banker and a lady's maid. It is commonplace and familiar enough, except that suddenly, the most innocent statements are foreboding. As the interviews progress, we are stung by the intensity and viciousness of the contest. The questioners are trying to destroy the dignity of the four clients, and the latter fight to hold their self-respect. It is never resolved. Abruptly the scene changes—a street, a subway, a psychiatrist's office, a confessional—but throughout, this compelling involvement continues. And the sense of familiarity continues as well. We are not seeing something new, except in the bizarre design of the play itself, but we are recognizing something which has been before us all the time. Therein lies the shock effect of AMERICA HURRAH and its power, as well. None of it is happening to others; it is happening to us—or rather, it is recalling things that have happened to us. We are thrust into awareness. The insulation burns off, and we have no choice but to perceive." (4 men, 4 women.) TV. As recounted by Walter Kerr of the New York Times: "In a television studio, three very normal workers glance at the monitor now and then, where busy performers with striped faces—they look like so many up-ended zebras—go through all the violent, cloying, synthetic motions that pass for companionable entertainment on the national airwaves. But there is no relation between the workers and the work; a yawning gulf, big enough to drown us all, has opened between the real concerns of real people and the imaginary concerns of our imaginary archetypes. One of the real workers nearly strangles to death on a bone in his chicken-salad sandwich. But the burly chanteuse who pours affection across the land as though she were an open fire hydrant of boundless goodwill goes right on beaming her thousand good nights. Disaster is irrelevant in a time of eternal delight." And suddenly we become aware of the desperate futility of our efforts to shield ourselves from coming to grips with what is by simulating a cozy escape into what might be. The spectacle is funny, sad and alarming, all at the same time. (4 men, 4 women.) MOTEL. As the New York Post describes: "Three giant colorfully styled dolls, with actors within: a motel landlady on Route 666 and the guy and the blonde, more or less out of In Cold Blood, who have taken a room there for the night. Nobody speaks except the landlady, and she in the excellent recorded Great Plains voice of Ruth White. While the landlady spiels fifteen minutes of platitudes about the hooked rugs and self-flushing toilets and other features of her motel, guy doll and blond doll crawl and draw graffiti on doors and walls and rip or smash everything in sight…" to the tune of a booming rock 'n roll number, leading up to a driving, galvanizing finish. And a finish, furthermore, which not only shocks but gives pause. In a real sense we are the mindless dolls, and their actions reflect the ugly impulses that lurk in all of us—finding an outlet in actions that can only leave us feeling ashamed and concerned, and aware of the aching emptiness at the heart of our modern way of life. (3 men or 3 women in "doll" masks and bodies; offstage voice).
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