Rice, Elmer. (1892 - 1967).
W o r k
On Trial (1914):
- an early murder play
- a device of the flashback to tell the story and reveal the murderer
The Adding Machine (1923):
- an expressionistic experimental play
- concern: dehumanization of human beings in the age of the machine
- the principal character = Mr Zero, a character-less accountant
- some other characters known by numbers only
- Zero executed for the murder of his employer, undergoes several other cycles of existence, and ends up as a soul-less slave of his machine
Street Scene (1929):
- a naturalistic socially critical play set in the NY slums
- a later opera version
"I said that art was subordinated to business; that the emphasis was on trivial, tasteless play that catered to idle people who could afford high ticket prices; that the dramatist who introduced new techniques or vital themes met with indifference or hostility. In the last four minutes of my talk, I charged the critics with fostering the theatre of sterile entertainment and with discouraging innovators and rebels. I said that, with a few honorable exceptions, they were stupid and illiterate; and I went on to characterize several of them, without mentioning names, of course, in most uncomplimentary terms".
Elmer Rice explains why he wishes to give up writing for the commercial theatre in his Minority Report (1963).
(Photo: Carl Van Vechten. 1934. Source: Wikipedia).
AuthorElmer L. Reizenstein. Aka Elmer Rice. (1892 - 1967). American.
WorkPlaywright. Author of The Adding Machine (1923).
GenresExperimental play. Expressionism. Naturalism. Social play.
Bercovitch, Sacvan, ed. The Cambridge History of American Literature. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995.
Cunliffe, Marcus. The Literature of the United States. London: Penguin, 1991.
Ruland, Richard, Malcolm Bradbury. Od puritanismu k postmodernismu. Praha: Mladá fronta, 1997.
Vančura, Zdeněk, ed. Slovník spisovatelů: Spojené státy americké. Praha: Odeon, 1979.