In the Long Run : A Cultural History of Broadway’s Hit Plays book cover
1st Edition

In the Long Run
A Cultural History of Broadway’s Hit Plays

ISBN 9780367210908
Published September 18, 2019 by Routledge
236 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

In the Long Run: A Cultural History of Broadway’s Hit Plays presents in-depth analysis of 15 plays that ran over 1,000 performances, examining what made each so popular in its time—and then, in many cases, fall into obscurity.

Covering one hundred years of theatre history, it traces the long-running Broadway play as a distinct cultural phenomenon that rises and falls from 1918 to 2018. Each chapter focuses on the longest-running plays of a particular decade, synthesizing historical research and dramaturgical analysis to explain how they functioned as works of theatrical art, cultural commodities, and reflections of the values, conflicts, and fantasies of their times. At the heart of each play’s history are the ideological contradictions often present in works of popular culture that appeal to diverse audiences, particularly around issues of gender, race, class, and sexuality.

Suitable for anyone with an interest in Broadway and its history, In the Long Run explores the nature of time in this ephemeral art form, the tensions between commerce and art, between popularity and prestige, and the changing position of the Broadway play within American popular culture.

Table of Contents

Tables  Preface  Acknowledgments  Introduction  1. 1910s Lightnin’: The Triumph of the Little Guy  2. 1920s Abie’s Irish Rose: Popularity Crisis  3. 1930s Tobacco Road: Theatrical Degeneration  4. 1940s Part One: The War Years Life with Father: Living Through the War with Father; The Voice of the Turtle: All’s Fair in Love and War  Part Two: The Postwar Years Harvey: Rabbits, Rummies, and Respectability; Born Yesterday: Popularity and Political Action  5. 1950s The Seven Year Itch: The Girl Without a Name; The Teahouse of the August Moon: Broadway Faces East  6. 1960s Mary, Mary: Remarrying the Witty Woman; Barefoot in the Park: The Perpetual-Motion Machine  7. 1970s Gemini: Splitting the Difference; Deathtrap: The Hit List  8. 1980s Torch Song Trilogy: Pride and Prejudice; Brighton Beach Memoirs: The Last of the Red Hot Plays  Conclusion: 1990-2018  Index

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Jordan Schildcrout is the author of the book Murder Most Queer, as well as articles on American theatre and culture published in Modern Drama, Theatre Journal, and The Journal of American Drama and Theatre. He is Associate Professor of Theatre & Performance at Purchase College, State University of New York, and also works as a dramaturg in New York City.


"High-brow scholars may sneer at the popular, but In the Long Run proves that the Broadway plays that run for ages can tell us more about America’s values, concerns, and challenges than the great works we tend to venerate. Engaging, witty, and erudite, Jordan Schildcrout is the perfect guide to a century of mega-hit plays and the culture that has loved them" -- Alisa Solomon, Columbia University, USA.