Theater program to stage Depression-era classic

The Division of Communication and the Arts will present “Waiting for Lefty,” a Depression-era play that director Dr. Kevin Ewert calls one of the most important plays of the modern American theater.

 

            The show will take place at 7:30 p.m. Nov. 16, 17 and 18 and at 2 p.m. Nov. 19 in the Studio Theater in Blaisdell Hall. Tickets are $6 for the public and $2 for all students with valid ID. The performance lasts approximately one hour. Seating is limited.

 

            First produced in 1935, the play, written by Clifford Odets, caused a sensation, said Ewert, professor of theater.

 

            “It has lost none of the power of its punch,” he said of the script. “All through rehearsals, students involved in the production have been amazed at the clarity of vision on the United States in 2017.”

 

            Odets structures the play as a series of short scenes around the central event of a meeting of New York cab drivers who are deciding whether to go on strike.

 

            “Like many this past spring, I was appalled at the video of Uber's former CEO berating one of his own drivers for daring to question the constant fare cutting they were subject to,” Ewert said. “Then I read 'Waiting for Lefty,' where these Depression-era cabbies talk about exactly the same thing - how they're 'dying by inches' while their company keeps the market flooded.

 

            “Lately we've seen Lynn Nottage's Pulitzer Prize-winning play 'Sweat' hit a nerve with its portrayal of blue-collar decline and despair. 'Lefty' is the great-granddaddy of work like that: work that engages with the corrosive effect of economic insecurity on every aspect of individual and family life.

 

            “This is a fierce play, and it's filled with passionate performances from our student actors.”

 

            The ensemble cast includes Lanessa Hickman, a history-political science major from Lees Summit, Mo.; Kenneth Reilly, a history-political science major from Brooklyn, N.Y.; James O'Mara, Caleb Combs, Brittany Minugh, a history-political science major from Ludlow; Nathan Lawyer, a history-political science and economics major from Coraopolis; Carlie Watson, a radiological science major from Coudersport; and Jayden Pire, a writing major from Oswayo.

 

            For advance tickets, contact the Bromeley Family Theater box office at 814-362-5113 or cmealy@pitt.edu.

 

            For disability needs related to the show, contact the Office of Disability Resources at 814-362-7609 or clh71@pitt.edu