“Waiting for Lefty,” a play by Clifford Odets based on a 1934 strike of unionized New York City cab drivers, is this year’s winter production at the Yulman Theater. Performances are Wednesday, Feb. 22 through Saturday, Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday, Feb. 26 at 2 p.m.
Guest director David Girard has assembled a cast of 16 students: Robyn Belt ’14 in the key role of Edna, Carla Duval ’14, Catherine Elliott ’12, Rachel Feingold ’12, Daniel Franc ’15, Joe Kiernan ’13, Jacob LaRocca ’12, Elizabeth Magas ’15, Dave Masterson ’14, Chris Paine ’12, Daniel Pallies ’15, Lauren Resnikoff ’15, Jasmine Roth ’13, Sam Rubiner ‘12, Ryan Semerad ’13 and Jaclyn Toop ’12.
“Waiting for Lefty’ shows small, powerful glimpses into peoples’ lives during the Depression,” said Feingold. “It tells multiple stories of peoples’ struggles during this time. All matters in life that shouldn’t be affected by money, such as love and marriage, are depicted because of the lack of money and work.”
In addition, she said, some of the play’s power comes from the fact that “cast members sit in the audience, so viewers become very close and intimate with the actors.”
Appearing in 1935 at the height of the Great Depression, “Waiting for Lefty” was wildly popular with critics and the American public, bringing its playwright sudden fame. Widely staged throughout the country, it illuminated such fraught issues as worker solidarity, labor relations, class strife and the realities of war, as well as the daily struggles, disappointments and “unwavering optimism” of the great masses.
“This optimism is an incomparably American trait and was something Odets was adept at making the most of,” said Girard in his theater notes about the play. “When ‘Waiting for Lefty’ hit the stage, there was a hungry group of performers and audiences ready for what Odets’ play had to offer. Given the political anxiety of the era, his timing couldn’t have been more prescient.”
In the late 1930’s, Girard said, “‘Waiting for Lefty’ became a rallying cry for unions and their blue-collar brethren nationwide. The work was consistently revived during periods of perceived American social injustice, including the 1960s and‘80s… and once again, we find ourselves in an era of social inequality.”
Tickets for the play are $7 for the Union community, alumni and area seniors, and $10 general admission. For reservations, call the Yulman Theater Box Office at ext. 6545.