Six Plays of Clifford Odets

Six Plays of Clifford Odets

Six Plays of Clifford Odets

Six Plays of Clifford Odets

Excerpt

At the ripe age of thirty-three (to the day!) I have the pleasure of writing a few prefatory words to a collection of my first six, plays. However, the talent represented in these plays is essentially synthetic, not analytic; and for this reason it is not my intention to do as Oscar Wilde said of a friend, "He has nothing to say and he says.it." My belief, in other words, is that the plays will say whatever is to be said; most of them have bones in them and will stand up unsupported.

Notwithstanding, a writer must be permitted to express preferences in terms of his own work. Paradise Lost, poorly received as a practical theatre work, remains my favorite play in this group. While not unmindful of its harsh and ungracious form, I must be permitted to say that our modern audiences, critics included, still must have their plays, like salt-water taffy, cut to fit the mouth. Paradise Lost shares with Rocket to the Moon a depth of perception, a web of sensory impressions and a level of both personal and social experience not allotted to the other plays here. True, at least two of the other remaining four plays are more immediately useful, but my choice still stands.

Now, since we are on the subject, much of my concern during the past years has been with fashioning a play immediately and dynamically useful and yet as. psychologically profound as my present years and experience will permit. To some extent this pressing problem (pressing since we are living in a time when new art works should shoot bullets) has been most closely approached in a new play not included in this volume, The Silent Partner. Rightfully that play belongs in this collection in the place of Rocket to the. Moon, for of the two it was conceived and written first. Revisions have changed it, but in terms of inner and outer progression . . .

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