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Skin of Our Teeth, The - Full Length Play, Comedy

Skin of Our Teeth, The

Thornton Wilder

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Full Length Play, Comedy

4m, 4f

ISBN: 9780573615481

Winner! 1943 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

"Wonderfully wise...A tremendously exciting and profound stage fable."-Herald Tribune

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: Acting Edition
: Large Print
: Stage Manager

Minimum Fee: $100 per performance


Full Length Play


Farce, Period, Experimental


Unit Set/Multiple Settings


Pulitzer, From Broadway

WINNER-1943 Pulitzer Prize for Drama

Meet George and Maggie Antrobus of Excelsior, New Jersey, a suburban, commuter-town couple (married for 5,000 years), who bear more than a casual resemblance to that first husband and wife, Adam and Eve: the two Antrobus children, Gladys (perfect in every way, of course) and Henry (who likes to throw rocks and was formerly known as Cain); and their garrulous maid, Sabina (the eternal seductress), who takes it upon herself to break out of character and interrupt the course of the drama at every opportunity ("I don't understand a word of this play!")

Whether he is inventing the alphabet or merely saving the world from apocalypse, George and his redoubtable family somehow manage to survive--by the skin of their teeth.

Completed by the author less than a month after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH (1942) broke from established theatrical conventions and walked off with the 1943 Pulitzer Prize for Drama. Combining farce, burlesque, and satire, and elements of the comic strip, Thornton Wilder depicts an Everyman Family as it narrowly escapes one end-of-the-world disaster after another, from the Ice Age to flood to war.


"Wonderfully wise...A tremendously exciting and profound stage fable. - Herald Tribune

"For an American dramatist, all roads lead back to Thornton Wilder...THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH was a remarkable gift to an America entrenched in catastrophe, a tribute to the trait of human endurance."
- Paula Vogel, Foreword, THE SKIN OF OUR TEETH

The Skin of Our Teeth premiered on Broadway on November 18, 1942 with Tallulah Bankhead (Sabina), Fredric March (Mr. Antrobus) and Florence Eldridge (Mrs. Antrobus), directed by Ellian Kazan.



4m, 4f


Non-Traditional casting, Reduced casting (Doubling Possible), Expandable casting, Local Celebrity Cameo, Room for Extras, Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle), Strong Role for Leading Woman (Star Vehicle), Parts for Senior Actors


Also many small male and female roles available.

  • Tappan reads a letter from Uncle Thornton

Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder

Thornton Wilder (1897-1975), born in Madison, Wisconsin, and educated at Yale and Princeton, was an accomplished novelist and playwright whose works explore the connection between the commonplace and the cosmic dimensions of human experience. The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of his seven novels, won the Pulitzer Prize in 1928, and his next-to-last novel, The Eighth Day received the National Book ... view full profile

Now Playing
John Carosella 12/14/2016 9:10 AM
"The Skin of Our Teeth" is a masterpiece.  Along with Thornton Wilder's other dramatic masterpiece "Our Town," it serves as a bookend to all the work of his brilliant literary career.  More than the others, however, this wacky, sometimes-serious, always-entertaining play remains timely because it is a tribute to the indomitable will of the human species to not only survive (if only by the skin of our teeth) but to triumph over any threatening situation.  In three acts, Wilder takes the audience on a merry romp through the ice age, the deluge, and a devastating war.  Along the way, he comments on the accomplishments of the human race as well as on some of its less noble moments.  The Antrobus family (from the Greek "anthropos"--humankind), remains essentially unchanged throughout the play and the trials and tribulations of each era serve to celebrate the staying power of our species.  It is a tribute to the Wilder estate that the preface encourages those who produce this play to "update" any references that seem to date it, because the message of the play will never be dated.  The script presents actors with three roles that can be considered "star turns,"  Mr. Antrobus, Mrs. Antrobus, and their maid Sabina.  Another attractive feature of the play is that it may be produced with roles for many actors or for as few as eight, thus allowing for the challenge of doubling roles.  "The Skin of Our Teeth" is a play that always seems timely, because no matter the day or the year, the month, or the century, we human beings always seem to be fretting over our possible demise.  Thanks to Wilder's treatment, we know that no matter what, we'll survive if only  "By the Skin of Our Teeth."
Olivia Lloyd 4/18/2013 8:49 PM
"The Skin of Our Teeth" follows the Antrobus family through time as they dodge several apocalypses, and somehow survive through ice ages, floods, and wars.  Mr. Antrobus, the head of the family, is the leader of mankind.  His wife, Mrs. Antrobus stays by his side, supports his cause, and takes care of their two children.  Gladys, their daughter, is always trying to please her parents, while Henry, their son (formerly named Cain), has a problem with obedience and a good aim with a slingshot.  Throughout time, they are followed by their housemaid, Sabina, who also frequently breaks the fourth wall and acts as the hysterical yet reluctant guide into this complex, centuries-spanning world.  

This is one of Thorton Wilder's most complex plays, melding comedy with serious discourse on the recurrent foibles of mankind.  As we watch the Antrobuses survive in spite of all odds, the audience  the paradoxical urges of mankind to both destroy and survive by any means possible.  "The Skin of Our Teeth" is a compelling comedy that will leave any audience member rapt, and struck with the multiple meanings, references and contexts long after the stage lights have gone dark.

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