The name Clifford Odets may not ring any bells, unless you have spent time going through the history of Theatre and the Social commentary of 1930s Depression-era America.
To many, Clifford Odets was a radical – a firebrand of the Theatre; a writer whose work exposed the harsh realities of day to day life. Not the stuff of “genteel Theatergoers”, or the stuff of frothy Broadway musicals. Odets saw the Theatre as a place to bring up conflicts, pose solutions – shed light; look at life for what it was, not as a place for distraction, but for motivation and enlightenment. It was that engagement of the audience by tackling subject matter outside the acknowledged Broadway mainstream that wound up revolutionizing Theatre for decades after. A genre of Theatre which still fights for recognition and a forum, but which has been quietly overshadowed by the glitter and the shiny and the approximate.
This interview, part of the Sum & Substance series, was conducted in February of 1963, a scant six months before his death. Ironically, the discussion starts with how Odets saw himself as a Playwright at 75. He voices pessimism of the state of Arts and Theatre in 1963. How we had rejected the substance and went with the superfluous. How America was losing its way.
1963 – some 54 years ago. Clifford Odets couldn’t have imagined the America of 2017 – yet the work which we wrote in the 1930s is still relevant today. Perhaps too “on the nose” in some places, but a play like Awake and Sing still resounds and feels familiar. The characters, fully fleshed-out and breathing, could be people you run into anywhere.
If you are a fan of Theatre, or have aspirations in that direction, and don’t already know who Clifford Odets was – I would strongly urge you to grab a few of his plays and get familiar – you will find more similarities than differences.
If you are familiar with Clifford Odets and his work, this will be a wonderful reminder of what Theatre and the Arts in general is really all about – what’s it’s always been about.
Enjoy and take notes.
And while we’re got you here –
Ending up our first week of the Past Daily Fall Fundraiser with just a few more days left to go. We were off to a fantastic start, but we need to keep going to hit our goal – we’re getting there, and with your help and telling your friends, we will. Not asking for a lot and not asking you to do without or make sacrifices – just contribute what you’re comfortable with. And remember, it’s Tax-deductible so it’s a win-win for you and us. If you don’t mind, please click on the link here: (Past Daily Fall Fundraiser) and make your pledge – the price of a cup of coffee or a movie ticket – or even a Broadway Play . . .whatever works for you. We appreciate and are so grateful for all your help, kind words and contributions so far – let’s keep it going for a little bit longer. Okay?