Thornton Wilder: Collected Plays
and Writings on Theater

Thornton Wilder: Collected Plays and Writings on Theater

Published: March 15, 2007
Type: Full-length Plays, Short Plays, Essays, Letters, and Screenwriting

Thornton Wilder: Collected Plays and Writings on Theater, takes the measure of his extraordinary career as a dramatist, beginning with his early expressionist experiments and daring one-act plays such as The Long Christmas Dinner and The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden, ranging through the full flowering of Our Town, The Skin of Our Teeth, and The Matchmaker, and encompassing the intriguing dramatic projects of his later years, such as his adaptation of the ancient story of Alcestis (The Alcestiad) and plays written for dramatic cycles based on the Seven Deadly Sins and the varied ages of an individual’s life. Complementing the selection of plays is an illuminating group of essays that captures Wilder’s reflections on his plays and contains a revealing epistolary account of the film adaptation of Our Town, as well as evaluations of dramatists such as Sophocles, George Bernard Shaw, and the Austrian satirist Johann Nestroy (whose farce Einen Jux will er sich machen Wilder brilliantly transformed into The Matchmaker).

The book also includes scenes from The Emporium, an ambitious unfinished play that, emerging out of Wilder’s intense engagement with existentialist philosophy in the postwar years, imagines a Kafkaesque department store whose enigmatic activities are as inscrutable as the mysteries of life itself; and the complete screenplay Wilder wrote for Alfred Hitchcock’s film Shadow of a Doubt just before reporting for military service in 1942. Although faithful to the spirit of the film, the screenplay presented here restores Wilder’s original dialogue, some of which was altered for the movie. A study of family life, youthful illusions, and the desperation of a criminal on the run, the Shadow of a Doubt screenplay is a masterful exhibition of the art of suspense and taut dramatic storytelling, and is an essential part of Wilder’s oeuvre.

Table of Contents
The Angel That Troubled the Waters and Other Plays
Nascuntur Poetae
Proserpina and the Devil
Fanny Otcott
Brother Fire
The Penny That Beauty Spent
The Angel on the Ship
The Message and Jehanne
Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came
And the Sea Shall Give Up Its Dead
Now the Servant’s Name Was Malchus
Mozart and the Gray Steward
Hast Thou Considered My Servant Job?
The Flight into Egypt
The Angel That Troubled the Waters

The Long Christmas Dinner and Other Plays in One Act
The Long Christmas Dinner
Queens of France
Pullman Car Hiawatha
Love and How to Cure It
Such Things Only Happen in Books
The Happy Journey to Trenton and Camden

Our Town

The Skin of Our Teeth

The Matchmaker

The Alcestiad

The Drunken Sisters

Uncollected Plays
The Marriage we Deplore
The Unerring Instinct
— Scenes from The Emporium
Plays for Bleecker Street
—- The Seven Deadly Sins
—— Bernice
—— The Wreck on the Five-Twenty-Five
—— A Ringing of Doorbells
—— In Shakespeare and the Bible
—— Someone from Assisi
—— Cement Hands
—- The Seven Ages of Man

—— Infancy
—— Childhood
—— Youth
—— The Rivers Under the Earth

Writings on Theater
— Foreword to The Angel That Troubled the Waters and Other Plays
— Notes for the Producer: The Long Christmas Dinner
— Notes for the Producer: The Happy Journey
— A Preface for Our Town
Our Town: Story of the Play
Our Town: Some Suggestions for the Director
Our Town—From Stage to Screen: A correspondence between Thornton Wilder and Sol Lesser
— Preface to Three Plays
— Notes on The Alcestiad
— Noting the Nature of Farce
— Some Thoughts on Playwriting
— Richard Beer-Hofmann’s Jaakobs Traum
— Sophocles’s Oedipus Rex
— Forward to Three Comedies by Johann Nestroy
— George Bernard Shaw

Shadow of a Doubt


Notes on the Texts


For further information on the works within Thornton Wilder: Collected Plays and Writings on Theater, please visit the Bibliography.

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