Beautiful New York

A Celebration of the City

The Top 100 Greatest New Yorkers — #93

93 Clifford OdetsClifford Odets (1906 – 1963)

Political theatre is very much its own genre. Some of the most beloved plays in history have been about overtly political topics, or even featured political movers and shakers as characters. Well, the capital of American theatre is New York. And the father of political drama in this country is Clifford Odets. From his explosive debut, Waiting for Lefty (1935), the fact that Odets had something to say burst from the Broadway and Off-Broadway stages and, ultimately, from Hollywood screens. Without him, there would have never been an Arthur Miller, a Tony Kushner, or an Aaron Sorkin. Odets was to the American stage what Bertolt Brecht was to the European stage. And, in the early 21st century, Broadway has seen, major award-winning revivals of his works – notably Awake and Sing! and Golden Boy – at the Belasco, the same theatre where they had premiered in the 1930’s.

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