James Purdy: Selected Plays

James Purdy: Selected Plays

James Purdy, John Uecker

Language: English

Pages: 209

ISBN: 1566637988

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub

Hailed as a creative genius (TLS) and a singular American visionary (New York Times), James Purdy may be best known for his remarkable novels, but he is also an astonishing playwright who has written nine full-length and twenty short plays. Purdy is one of the few contemporary American writers capable of writing tragedy-Tennessee Williams called him a uniquely gifted man of the theater. This collection presents four riveting and beautifully crafted works: Brice, The Paradise Circus, Where Quentin Goes, and Ruthanna Elder. Each explores a range of emotional and familial tangles, as fathers betray their sons and squander their inheritances, siblings compete for parental affection, and husbands and wives try to salvage meaning from their broken marriages. The plays are written in Purdy's authentic idiom, which Paul Bowles called the closest [we have] to a classical American colloquial.

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best adaptation of a Chekhov work ever done in our language) that our theater, the modern theater, “had to scream to be heard.” At one point Tennessee turned to me and said, “I think I’m in my James Purdy period.” Tennessee carried Children Is All (the New Directions edition with the short stories and two plays) around with him in his manuscript case for four years. It was the only thing in there that wasn’t Tennessee’s own work. He studied both the plays, reading them over and over. And then

You will probably lose and besides pay a lot of money to lawyers. (WILLIAM, again ahsentminded as if he was not listening and with his eye on the bottle of liquor) Do you want my advice, Will, since I have knowed you for so long a time, as you say, since you was a boy. WILLIAM: (bitter) Yes, advice is what I need. SIMEON: Then don’t contest her suit. WILLIAM: (getting riled) And let the whole world believe her charges are true! SIMEON: Why care about the world, Will, since Della has already

WILLIAM: I’m not amazed. I feel I’m dreaming. I’ve often in fact dreamed, Lila, you paid me a visit. When you came in just now I felt . . . LILA: The dream had come true. May I sit down for a moment. Then I’ll be gone. WILLIAM: A moment! Then I’ll be sure I dreamed it all. LILA: (seeing the bottle) Will, don’t tell me you are drinking. I don’t think anybody in town has been spared your lectures against whiskey. WILLIAM: I daresay. This happens to be a gift of old Simeon. Yes, I taste it now

holding his straw hat in his hand.) WILLIAM: Mother! (in a kind of prayerful way) Mother! You’re always at work. Don’t your busy fingers ever stop. (He moves over to MELISSA and kisses her, takes up her hand and kisses it.) MELISSA: (moved) William. You will always be my boy, Will. Sit down. Take that comfortable chair over there. WILLIAM: (turning to HARRIET) Evening, Miss Harriet. HARRIET: Good evening, William. . . . Supposin’ I leave now, Melissa. MELISSA: William and I are not going to

Oh, Ruthanna, why do we have to wait . . . for a ceremony. (He kisses her hair deliriously. They are quiet then.) She’s fallen asleep, I do believe. Asleep—she’s more lovely than ever. Oh, why do we have to wait. What’s a ceremony when we’ve been betrothed for so long, when we are already yes as the church says one flesh. Oh my darling. How I adore you. I could rise up and fly, fly with you in my arms. RUTHANNA: (in her sleep) Oh Judd, Judd. You are as beautiful as a young girl. JESS:

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