- Street scene
- Although Elmer Rice experimented with many techniques emerging from the European modernist theatre, particularly expressionism (as in his 1923 drama The Adding Machine), he turned to naturalism with Street Scene (originally titled Landscape with Figures), a drama of the American melting pot set in a New York City tenement. Emphasizing the impact of poverty and the ethnic and religious tensions in 1920s urban life, this multicharacter work featured strains of humor, melodrama, and tragedy. It is set on a single day on which Sam Kaplan, a young Jewish intellectual, and Rose Maurrant, a working-class Irish girl, become soul mates. Their budding understanding is torn apart when Rose's father, Frank, murders her mother, Anna, and her mother's lover. Rose declines an offer to become a businessman's mistress as well as Sam's offer of marriage, deciding to rely on herself. After an emotional farewell with her father, Rose takes her young brother away to live in the suburbs where she will work to care for them. Rice stresses the socioeconomic plight of the various ethnic minorities depicted and the collisions resulting from their differences and deprivations. Despite a Pulitzer Prize and an impressive 601 performances in its original Broadway run, which opened on 10 January 1929 at the Playhouse Theatre, Street Scene is rarely revived in part because of its large cast and technical requirements. A motion picture version of Street Scene appeared in 1930, but has had a more enduring life in a nearly operatic musical adaptation of the same name by Kurt Weill, with lyrics by Langston Hughes, first produced in 1947.
The Historical Dictionary of the American Theater. James Fisher.