Picnic

by  William Inge

Full Length Play, Drama  /  4m, 7f

Winner! 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
Winner! 1953 New York Drama Critics Circle Award, Best Play
"Having one good play to his credit, William Inge now has another play, Picnic...and memorable though Come Back Little Sheba was three seasons ago, Picnic is a notable improvement." —The New York Times

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    4m, 7f
  • Duration

    Duration

    120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Accolades

    Accolades

    Pulitzer, From Broadway
  • Suggested Use

    Suggested Use

    • Monologues
    • Scene work
    • Competition or audition material
  • Audience

    Target Audience

    • Adult
    • Teen (Age 14 - 18)

Additional Info

The play takes place on Labor day Weekend in the joint backyards of two middle-aged widows. The one house belongs to Flo Owens, who lives there with her two maturing daughters, Madge and Millie, and a boarder who is a spinster school teacher. The other house belongs to Helen Potts, who lives with her elderly and invalid mother. Into this female atmosphere comes a young man named Hal Carter, whose animal vitality seriously upsets the entire group. Hal is a most interesting character, a child of parents who ignored him, self-conscious of his failings and his position behind the eight ball. Flo is sensitively wary of temptations for her daughters. Madge, bored with being only a beauty, sacrifices her chances for a wealthy marriage for the excitement Hal promises. Her sister, Millie, finds her balance for the first time through the stranger's brief attention. And the spinster is stirred to make an issue out of the dangling courtship that has brightened her life in a dreary, minor way.
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Accolades

  • Winner! 1953 Pulitzer Prize for Drama
    Winner! 1953 New York Drama Critics Circle Award, Best Play

Reviews

"Having one good play to his credit, William Inge now has another play, Picnic...and memorable though Come Back Little Sheba was three seasons ago, Picnic is a notable improvement." - The New York Times

"William Inge, the grain belt Tennessee Williams, was one of the three most important playwrights in the American theater of the ’50s, along with Williams and Arthur Miller...Nobody wrote more profoundly about the frustrations and longings of small-town Midwesterners—and Picnic is generally considered Inge’s masterpiece...Presenting all men and women as uniformly flawed and in need of psychological diagnosis and treatment, the Kansas-born writer divided critics and audiences from the start, but Picnic is his least shocking play, and his most accessible...Picnic is really a play about how you always want what you cannot have. Every character in it longs for something that is just beyond reach—beauty, marriage, respectability, economic security, true love, emotional peace. Inge writes warmly, with such sensitive, understated compassion about little people desperate for a place in a bigger world that his work is timeless" - New York Observer

Considerations

Performing Groups

  • College Theatre / Student
  • Community Theatre
  • Professional Theatre
  • Reader's Theatre
  • Outdoor
  • Large Stage

Cautions

  • Caution Strong Language Strong Language
  • Caution Mild Adult Mild Adult Themes

License details

  • Licensing available for professional groups only. Some restrictions apply.

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 1950s
  • Duration: 120 minutes (2 hours)
  • Setting: A small Kansas town, in the yard shared by Flor Owens and Helen Potts.
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Casting

4m, 7f
HELEN POTTS - a neighbor
HAL CARTER - a young vagabond
MILLIE OWENS - a 16-year-old girl
BOMBER - the paper boy
MADGE OWENS - a beautiful girl
FLO OWENS - mother of the girls
ROSEMARY SYDNEY - a school teacher
ALAN SEYMOUR - boy friend of Madge
IRMA KRONKITE - a school teacher
CHRISTINE SCHOENWALDER - a school teacher
HOWARD BEVANS - a friend of Miss Sidney
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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Strong Role for Leading Man (Star Vehicle)

Resources

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Authors

William Inge

William Inge, (born May 3, 1913, Independence, Kan., U.S.—died June 10, 1973, Hollywood Hills, Calif.) was an American playwright best known for his plays Come Back, Little Sheba (1950; filmed 1952); Picnic (1953; filmed 1956), for which he won a Pulitzer Prize; and Bus Stop (1955; filmed 1956). Inge was educated at th ...

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