Childhood

by  Thornton Wilder

Short Play, Dramatic Comedy  /  2m, 3f

"Admirers of Thornton Wilder's virtuouso short plays will be glad to hear he has returned to the form in which he excels." -Irving Wardle, London Times, March 16, 1973
In this provocative, sometimes chilling comedy, Wilder renders a child's-eye view of the grown-up world.

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License Estimator

Use this tool for cost estimates based on your specific needs.

  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    2m, 3f
  • Duration

    Duration

    30 minutes
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Theatre for Young Audiences, Fables/Folktales, Experimental
  • Accolades

    Accolades

    From Off-Broadway
  • Suggested Use

    Suggested Use

    • Scene work
    • Competition or audition material
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Appropriate for all audiences
    • Adult
    • Children (Age 6 - 10)
    • Pre-Teen (Age 11 - 13)
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

In this provocative, sometimes chilling comedy, Wilder renders a child's-eye view of the grown-up world, as a father, a mother and their three children play a revealing game of make-believe in which the children pretend to be orphans. Startling truths emerge on both sides, as pretense challenges the family to discard the traditional roles of parent, spouse, child, and sibling--blurring the lines between perception and reality, artifice and innocence.

Published in Thorton Wilder One Act Series: The Ages of Man.

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Reviews

REVIEWS

"Admirers of Thornton Wilder's virtuouso short plays will be glad to hear he has returned to the form in which he excels. " -Irving Wardle, London Times, March 16, 1973

"We often hear the phrase, 'a winning child.' Winning children (who appear so guileless) are children who have discovered how effective charm and modesty and a delicately calculated spontaneity are in winning what they want." -Thornton Wilder in The Paris Review Interviews, 1957

"I've been writing two plays (Ira and Childhood) that have dream sequences, and have become very attentive to what takes place in dreaming...In Childhood I use something I none too clearly remember from The Interpretation of Dreams (and by the light of that book, observed in my own dreaming): that an important person in one's dream, whom one's censor does not wish to identify or acknowledge, appears veiled or masked, or seen from the back only. So my children's father and mother." -Thornton Wilder, Journal, March 24, 1960

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • Jr High/Primary
  • High School/Secondary
  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Reader's Theatre
  • Shoestring Budget
  • Blackbox / Second Stage /Fringe Groups

Cautions

  • No Special Cautions

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $75 per performance
    $125 with other plays in collection

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 1960s
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Setting: The yard of a suburban house.
  • Additional Features: No intermission
  • Features / Contains: Contemporary Costumes / Street Clothes, Period Costumes

Music

  • Musical Style: N/A (Not a musical)
  • Vocal Demands: N/A (Not a musical)

Casting

2m, 3f
CAROLINE - the oldest daugter, 12
DODIE - her sister, 10
BILLEE - her brother, 8
MOTHER
FATHER
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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Non-Traditional casting
  • Features Children
  • Roles for Teens
  • Roles for Children

Casting Notes

This play can also be cast with 2 Girls, 1 Boy, 1 Male Adult Actor and 1 Female Adult Actor.

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Authors

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.

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Childhood was first produced at the Circle in the Square Theater in New York January 10, 1962, as one of three plays grouped as "Plays for Bleecker Street. It was televised by the CBC in 1966 and 1969, and by an educational television channel in 1966 and 1970.

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