JEWISH PLAYWRIGHTS

JINFO.ORG

Listed below is a selection of playwrights who were, or are, Jewish (or of partial Jewish descent, as noted).  For lists of Jewish novelists, screenwriters, poets, and other Jewish writers, see Jews in Literature.
  • S. Ansky, The Dybbuk
  • David Auburn 1, Proof (2001 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 2001 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • George Axelrod, The Seven Year Itch
  • Richard Beer-Hofmann, Der Graf von Charolais, Jaakobs Traum, Der junge David
  • S. N. Behrman, No Time for Comedy, The Cold Wind and the Warm
  • David Belasco, Madame Butterfly (based on a story by J.L. Long), The Girl of the Golden West (both plays later made into operas by Puccini)
  • Tristan Bernard, Les pieds nickelés, L'anglais tel qu'on le parle, Le petit café, Jules, Juliette, et Julien, Le sauvage, Que le monde est petit
  • Abe Burrows, How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying (1962 Pulitzer Prize for Drama)
  • Jerome Chodorov, My Sister Eileen (basis for the musical Wonderful Town), A Talent for Murder
  • Edna Ferber, Dinner at Eight, Stage Door (both with George S. Kaufman)
  • Harvey Fierstein, Torch Song Trilogy (1983 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Herb Gardner, A Thousand Clowns, I'm Not Rappoport (1986 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Richard Greenberg, Take Me Out (2003 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Moss Hart, Once in a Lifetime, You Can't Take It With You (1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), The Man Who Came to Dinner (with George S. Kaufman)
  • Ben Hecht, The Front Page (co-authored with Charles MacArthur)
  • Lillian Hellman, The Children's Hour, The Little Foxes, Watch on the Rhine
  • Israel Horovitz, The Indian Wants the Bronx, Line, Park Your Car in Harvard Yard
  • Quiara Alegría Hudes 2, Water by the Spoonful (2012 Pulitzer Prize for Drama)
  • Eugène Ionesco 3, Rhinoceros, The Lesson, The Chairs, Victims of Duty, The New Tenant, The Killer, Exit the King
  • George S. Kaufman, Once in a Lifetime (with Moss Hart), You Can't Take It With You (1937 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, with Moss Hart), The Man Who Came to Dinner (with Moss Hart), Dinner at Eight  (with Edna Ferber), Stage Door (with Edna Ferber), Of Thee I Sing (1932 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, with Morrie Ryskind and Ira Gershwin)
  • Sidney Kingsley, Men in White, Detective Story (1934 Pulitzer Prize for Drama)
  • Joseph Kramm, The Shrike (1952 Pulitzer Prize for Drama)
  • Karl Kraus, Die letzten Tage der Menschheit (The Last Days of Mankind)
  • Tony Kushner, Angels in America: Millennium Approaches (1993 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 1993 Tony Award for Best Play), Angels in America: Perestroika (1994 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Arthur Laurents, Home of the Brave
  • Jerome Lawrence, Inherit the Wind (co-author)
  • David Mamet, Glengarry Glen Ross (1984 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), Speed the Plow
  • Donald Margulies, Dinner With Friends (2000 Pulitzer Prize for Drama)
  • Mark Medoff, Children of a Lesser God (1980 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Arthur Miller,  All My Sons (1947 Tony Award for Best Play), Death of a Salesman (1949 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 1949 Tony Award for Best Play), The Crucible (1953 Tony Award for Best Play), A View from the Bridge
  • Ferenc Molnar, The Devil, Liliom (story basis for the musical Carousel), The Guardsman (inspiration for the musical comedy The Chocolate Soldier), The Tale of the Wolf
  • Clifford Odets, Waiting for Lefty, Awake and Sing!, Golden Boy
  • Harold Pinter, The Homecoming (1967 Tony Award for Best Play), The Caretaker, The Birthday Party; 2005 Nobel Prize for Literature
  • Bernard Pomerance, The Elephant Man (1979 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Yasmina Reza, 'Art' (1998 Tony Award for Best Play), God of Carnage (2009 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Elmer Rice, Love Among the Ruins, Between Two Worlds, Street Scene (1929 Pulitzer Prize for Drama)
  • Howard Sackler, The Great White Hope (1969 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 1969 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Dory Schary, Sunrise at Campobello (1958 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Arthur Schnitzler, Liebelei, Reigen (later made into the film La Ronde), Der einsame Weg, Zwischenspiel, Der Ruf des Lebens, Das Weite Land, Professor Bernhardi
  • Anthony Shaffer, Sleuth (1971 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Peter Shaffer, Equus (1975 Tony Award for Best Play), Amadeus (1981 Tony Award for Best Play), Five-Finger Exercise
  • Evgeny Shvarts 4, The Dragon
  • Neil Simon, Come Blow Your Horn, Barefoot in the Park, The Odd Couple, The Prisoner of Second Avenue, Brighton Beach Memoirs, Biloxy Blues (1985 Tony Award for Best Play), Broadway Bound, Lost in Yonkers (1991 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 1991 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Sir Tom Stoppard, Rosencrantz & Guidenstern Are Dead (1968 Tony Award for Best Play), Travesties (1976 Tony Award for Best Play), The Real Thing (1984 Tony Award for Best Play), The Coast of Utopia (2007 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Alfred Uhry, Driving Miss Daisy (1988 Pulitzer Prize for Drama), The Last Night of Ballyhoo (1997 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Wendy Wasserstein, The Heidi Chronicles (1989 Pulitzer Prize for Drama, 1989 Tony Award for Best Play), The Sisters Rosensweig
  • Peter Weiss 5, Marat/Sade (1966 Tony Award for Best Play)
  • Franz Werfel, Spiegelmensch, Bocksgesang, Paul Among the Jews, The Eternal Road
  • Sir Arnold Wesker, Roots, Chicken Soup with Barley
  • Herman Wouk, Caine Mutiny Court-Martial
  • Israel Zangwill, The Melting Pot
  • Paul Zindel, The Effect of Gamma Rays on Man-in-the-Moon Marigolds (1971 Pulitzer Prize for Drama)
NOTES
1. Jewish mother, non-Jewish father; see the twelfth paragraph of "David Auburn's Burden of 'Proof,'" by Zachary Pincus-Roth in the New York Times (21 March 2004): http://www.nytimes.com/2004/03/21/arts/theater-david-auburn-s-burden-of-proof.html.
2. Jewish father, non-Jewsh mother; see, e.g., the tenth paragraph of this Washington Post story.  
3.
Jewish mother, non-Jewish father. There appears to be considerable controversy over this assertion, but it is essentially what Ionesco himself stated in a 1968 article that appeared in the  weekly publication Figaro Littéraire.  On page 15 of the 5 August 1968 issue, Ionesco states in discussing his father's ever-changing politics: "L'avocat, toujours dans le sens de l'histoire, devient partisan des Gardes de fer et dit à son fils dont la mère était juive: <<J'ai commis une grande faute dans ma vie: j'ai sali mon sang, je doit racheter le péché du sang>>," which translates as: "The lawyer, still going in the same direction as History, became a partisan of the Iron Guards and said to his son whose mother was Jewish: 'I have committed one great error in my life: I have sullied my blood; I must redeem the sin of the blood'."  Although Ionesco refers to his father here simply as "l'avocat" ("the lawyer" - his father's profession), the description he gives  of "l'avocat " matches precisely the political biography of his father (police inspector and German collaborator in Bucharest during World War I, then a supporter of Averesco, then a social democrat and a Mason, then a supporter of Condréanu and the Iron Guard, then of Antonescu and the Nazis, and finally of the Communists, always somehow managing to remain in the good graces of whatever political order was in ascendancy).  Ionesco then states explicitly "et pourtant, ma père n' était pas à vrai dire un opportuniste," which translates as "and yet, my father was not really an opportunist."  So there is really  no question as to whether Ionesco was, in fact, discussing his father and himself in this passage.   The article was one of three  appearing in Figaro Littéraire (in the  29 July, 5 August, and 12 August 1968 issues) that were described as being excerpts from his then forthcoming memoir Présent Passé, Passé Présent  (Mercure de France, 1968).  The text of Présent Passé, Passé Présent  (on pp. 185-186, and on pp. 129-130 of its English translation by Helen Lane), however, deletes the phrase "dont la mère était juive"  ("whose mother was Jewish") and uses "l'homme"  ("the man") in place of "mon père" ("my father").  Of course, without the phrase "whose mother was Jewish," the statement by the Iron Guard sympathizer about needing to redeem himself for having "sullied [his] blood" no longer makes any sense.                   
4. Jewish father, non-Jewish mother.
5. Jewish father, non-Jewish mother.


QUESTIONS AND COMMENTS: CONTACT US 
JEWS IN LITERATURE
JINFO HOME
Copyright © 2007-2012 JINFO.ORG. All rights reserved.
Reproduction of any part of this website
without the express, prior written permission of JINFO.ORG is prohibited.