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On Arriving Front And Center: American Jewish Identity On The American Stage

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Chapter Summary

One of American drama's finest achievements is routing the veteran troupe of Jewish stock characters that for centuries found steady employment on the European stage. The American stage has become a frequent venue for social commentary and political inquiry by Jewish playwrights who speak as secure members of the society they are depicting. That confidence is the base from which they explore territory which often includes their own identity as American and Jewish. That matter has become ever more critical as affiliations multiply and loyalties are tested. One of the earliest and most telling mid-century displays of American Jewish ambivalence about identity in representing the Holocaust on stage was the controversy over the dramatization of the Anne Frank diary. The writer Meyer Levin, who was responsible for the diary's being translated and published in the United States, recognized the work's dramatic potential.

Keywords: American Jewish identity; American stage; Anne Frank diary; European stage; Holocaust; Jewish playwrights; social commentary



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