Pullman Car Hiawatha

by  Thornton Wilder

Short Play, Dramatic Comedy  /  12m, 5f

This one-act comedy, set in a Pullman car on a train traveling from New York to Chicago in December, 1930, introduces techniques Wilder would use in future three-act plays.

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Pullman Car Hiawatha

by  Thornton Wilder

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  • Cast Size

    Cast Size

    12m, 5f
  • Duration

    Duration

    30 minutes
  • SubGenre

    Subgenre

    Fantasy, 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

This one-act comedy, set in a Pullman car on a train traveling from New York to Chicago in December, 1930, introduces techniques Wilder would use in future three-act plays: The stage is virtually bare, with only a balcony or bridge and two flights of stairs, and the play is narrated by a Stage Manager. One of the characters speaks words that foreshadow Emily's words in Our Town. The play includes a character representing Grover's Corners, Ohio-a forerunner of Our Town's Grover's Corners, New Hampshire. The cast includes the hours of the day, the weather, the planets, and supernatural beings. Conventional time is suspended, and the only true measures of existence are life and death. Pullman Car takes us on a metaphorical journey by train through the American landscape, a diverse band of travelers encapsulated in a Pullman car hurtle through time, space and a range of emotions.

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Reviews

REVIEWS

"The playwright's warmth, humor and love for humanity permeate the drama, and make it both touching and entertaining." -Variety, December 12, 1962

"In Pullman Car Hiawatha. . . the author's resources of dramatic construction and symbolic visualization even enable him to move into a world of fancy, allowing him to give a speech to a dead woman (Harriet) as affecting as Emily's lines in the last act of Our Town. . . ." -John Gassner, "The Two Worlds of Thornton Wilder," 1963

Keywords

Death, Love, Memory

Considerations

Performing Groups

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

Cautions

  • No Special Cautions

License details

  • Minimum Fee: $45 per performance

Production

Details

  • Time Period: 1930s
  • Duration: 30 minutes
  • Setting: A Pullman car making its way from New York to Chicago, December, 1930.
  • Additional Features: Local Celebrity Cameo, No intermission
  • Features / Contains: Period Costumes

Music

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

Casting

12m, 5f

THE STAGE MANAGER

Compartment Three
AN INSANE WOMAN - Mrs. Churchill
MALE ATTENDANT - Mr. Morgan
THE FEMALE ATTENDANT - a trained nurse

Compartment Two
PHILIP MILBURY

Compartment Three
HARRIET MILBURY - Philip’s young wife

Lower One
A MAIDEN LADY

Lower Three
A MIDDLE-AGED DOCTOR

Lower Five
A STOUT, AMIABLE WOMAN

Lower Seven
AN ENGINEER - Bill, going to California

Lower Nine
AN ENGINEER - Fred
THE PORTER - Harrison

GROVER’S CORNERS, OHIO - represented by a Grinning Boy
THE FIELD - represented by Somebody in Shirt Sleeves
A TRAMP
PARKERSBURG, OHIO - represented by a Farmer’s Wife and Three Young People
A WORKMAN - Mr. Krüger, a ghost
THE WORKER - a watchman
THE WEATHER - represented by a Mechanic

The Hours
TEN O’CLOCK
ELEVEN O’CLOCK
TWELVE O’CLOCK

The Planets
SATURN
VENUS
JUPITER
EARTH

The Archangels
GABRIEL
MICHAEL

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Cast Attributes

  • Ensemble cast
  • Non-Traditional casting
  • Reduced casting (Doubling Possible)
  • Expandable casting
  • Flexible casting
  • Local Celebrity Cameo
  • Multicultural casting
  • Room for Extras
  • Parts for Senior Actors

Casting Notes

Various other actors to represent a town, a field, another town, three hours of the clock, and Saturn, Venus, Jupiter and the Earth.

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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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The play's first licensed production took place March 19, 1932, at Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio.

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