Freud on Broadway: A History of Psychoanalysis and the American Drama

By W. David Sievers | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XII
New Freudian Blood

ARTHUR LAURENTS

As we reach the third generation of psychoanalytic writers, we find a group of young talents, many of them with wartime service, who are very much aware of the socio-political pressures in the contemporary world and who are able to interpret them in the light of unconscious motivation. Subtly and with personally created symbols they are able to apply psychoanalytic insights to such various problems as race relations, juvenile delinquency, and the American occupation of conquered countries. If there is a difference between the post-war group and their sociological-minded predecessors in the thirties, it is the disappearance by now of doctrinaire political theories to explain the world's troubles, in favor of a psychological substructure of unconscious conflict within the inter-acting individuals who compose the social and political masses.

One of the most important and promising of the younger playwrights is Arthur Laurents, who comes to the theatre like Arthur Miller with a background in radio, where he learned to use the flashback and stream-of-consciousness techniques to give fluidity and depth to drama. After a start with the Columbia Workshop and a number of Army broadcasts including "The Man Behind the Gun" and "Assignment Home," Laurents won considerable critical attention and a $1,000 grant with his first Broadway play, Home of the Brave ( 1945).

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